Gas Engine Magazine

Homemade Mini-Tractor

By Staff

317 S., Main Mall, Suite 400, Tulsa, Oklahoma 74103

Old gas engines have interested me since about 1946. The first
engines I observed closely about 1951 were two large (25 HP)
engines still in operation on a Sinclair Oil and Gas Company lease
in the Glenpool oil field just south of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Sinclair
had several still running and I believe they were Superiors and
Cooper-Bessemers. I was working for Sinclair at the time but did
not run the engines.

In 1971 I bought my first engine. It was a 5 HP F & M. I
still have it. At that time I was not aware of ‘engine
shows’. I just enjoyed running it in my backyard. A friend,
Jack Slankard, told me that they had shows for old engines and in
1978 I cleaned and painted my old F & M and took it to the
first engine show I had ever attended., It was the Pawnee, Oklahoma
Show. I have returned each year since (except when I had to work)
showing various engines including my largest, a 7 HP Hercules on a
drop frame wagon.

One of my big interests is in Maytag engines. Maytag engines
both singles and twins run well and make good show engines that are
easy to carry. However, with a few exceptions they are usually set
on the ground and don’t power any equipment. Recently some
exhibitors have been bringing washing machines and I have seen a
Maytag powered light plant. Not having a light plant and not
wanting a washing machine (too big to haul) I needed something that
used Maytag power, so I built a Maytag tractor. Maytag built a
small go-kart sized car but I don’t believe they ever built a

First Fall Festival and engine show at Catoosa, Oklahoma.

As you can see from the pictures the Maytag tractor project
turned out very well. This tractor was built from scratch in about
four months with considerable help and criticism from Roy Davison
(another old engine nut). I want to say here that several people
including my good friend Roy told me that a Maytag was not strong
enough to pull a tractor. However, as you can see from one of the
pictures it pulls itself along with the driver and a trailer load
of kids. It has pulled the same trailer loaded with four adults.
Even though Roy doubted the success of the tractor he stuck by me
and was a great help in bringing this project to completion. Roy
furnished the trans axle and I furnished the Maytag engine. The
rear wheels are Honda 8′ mini bike wheels with the center cut
out and replaced with ?’ rod spokes. The front wheels are 4
‘with fake spokes welded on. The seat and back rest came off of
a couple of junked motorcycles. Fortunately a friend owns a small
foundry and they cast the brass steering wheel and brass Maytag
signs on the hood. The Maytag signs were made from the washing
wringer release. The muffler is made from a section of a Dodge van
drive shaft and a brass drain pipe. The ‘radiator’ is a
piece of an auto air conditioning condensor coil. The gears on the
steering shaft came from a riding mower differential.

Construction was by cut and fit method. It helps to have a good
metal cutting band saw, grinder, and tig welding machine in the
garage. The trans axle was propped up on a box and the wheels were
positioned to look about right. Roy came up with a piece of 2′
channel that was welded together to make the frame. The engine was
then set on this frame and the hood frame was built. The engine was
then bolted to this frame.

Then came the hard part. Getting the various pulleys positioned
to run the V belt off of the existing Maytag engine pulley and onto
the horizontal mounted pulley on the trans axle.’ After several
tries the pulleys (total 5 pulleys) were installed at the right
angles and a V belt installed. The engine had plenty of power but
the tractor was too slow. A change in pulley size corrected that
problem. After the hood was cut and rolled into shape at a friends
house the steering was built including the front wheel assembley.
Then the trans axle was enclosed with a metal box and the
motorcycle back rests were added for the seat. Roy then polished
the brass and Maytag flywheel and painted the tractor. The
completed Maytag tractor was first shown at Republic, Missouri,
this year (1988). Since then we have taken it to Winfield and Fort
Scott, Kansas. The tractor has been driven for several hours at
shows with very few problems. The engine usually runs for several
hours each day at the shows.

My original idea for the Maytag tractor came from seeing a
miniature John Deere tractor at Republic, Missouri, a couple of
years ago. Since then I have seen several miniature tractors. I
would like for the owners and others to send me a picture of their
miniature tractor. I am organizing the Miniature Tractor
Association for the purpose of getting builders together to
exchange ideas and construction tips. Included are several pictures
of my Maytag tractor and also a winter picture of my 7 HP Hercules
Buz Saw.

  • Published on Feb 1, 1989
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