1004 E Main Street Billings, Montana 59101
While on a vacation trip to Hawaii about 20 years ago with some
150 Flying Farmers, I had the pleasure of meeting a Mr. Bodine of
Chesterton, Idaho who was also a flying farmer and an antique
collector. In our conversation he was sure Kerosene Annie was still
at the Allis-Chalmers LaPorte factory. Being an old A-C salesman,
etc. for the Company for over thirty years in various capacities, I
could hardly wait until I got home to fly to LaPorte. Sure enough,
there she stood out in the yard under an elm tree where she had
been since the 2nd World War.
I soon had the privilege of picking her up for a trip to
Montana. To my surprise the trucker who was making a trip back that
way agreed to haul her for us to the CX ranch, where I then lived,
for $800.00, and he made the trip, he told me, without any Port of
Entries. When they saw what he had, they just said go on to
Well, shortly after that, yours truly found himself in somewhat
of a bind due to dry weather and low cattle prices. So nothing was
done to Annie until this past summer when we started the long
drawn-out overhaul to get her running once more.
First, the heads were off and the valves were ruined. We built
new ones. Next the fuel tank was completely rusted out. We built
new ones. Next the fenders were enough left for patterns of new
ones. We put twenty tons by gauge on the pistons to get them out of
the cylinders, each had five 5/8 wide rings.
One cylinder measured 9′ and the other 9 and
5/8‘ so we had twenty new rings made
5/16’ wide to give us a little better fit. All the levers and
clutch parts were badly frozen.
We made a special tank a few years ago where we had soaked all
these parts for a couple years in a diesel solution to get them
freed up. Both piston pins were very loose and we carefully ground
them to round again and put new brass bushings in. After inserting
the rings, pistons, rods etc. we belted the crank up and ran this
assembly for some time to get it free and running smoothly.
Now for some of the accessories: the ignitors were inserted
through the head from the rear and the barrel length was over five
inches and when we checked the ignitors we only had one of the
right size. The other one we had was much shorter as used on the
regular early Rumelys. After checking all the mechanisms of the
ignitor’s operating parts and their dilapidated condition, we
decided to abandon the old ignition system, therefore making two
inserts with the standard mounting flange and closing the inner
end, which we drilled to standard ‘ pipe thread to use the old
standard ##’ spark plugs of which we have an ample supply.
Then the problem of the magneto was solved with a high magnet
K-W magneto. Then a new 72-tooth aluminum gear was cut to
correspond with the timing gear on the crankshaft with the original
intermediate gear so the mag could be installed, otherwise there
wasn’t room to get the two large gears together. We had no oil,
fuel pump nor cooling oil circulating pump. We found three pumps of
different sizes that we felt would do the job. The oil circulating
pump for the engine worked perfectly, pumping a good flow through
12 different tubes with a good supply by passing through the
crankcase to the filtering separate oil tank. The geared fuel pump
works very nice once you get it primed. We still will have to find
a slow speed cooling oil pump as the one we installed simply runs
too slow for its type. We had to make a new mixer valve as the old
one was long gone and with considerable rework of the mixer system
we have that assembly working very well.
Now this tractor, of course, was a proto-type with the engine
and radiator being built by Hart-Parr and was tried out with open
ports as well as exhaust valves. When we removed the open ports had
been blocked off, so we removed the two extra pipes. We cast the
ports shut and honed them smooth with the rest of the cylinder.
After here and there minor adjustments we felt we were ready to
give old Kerosene Annie a chance for a new life. So we belted her
up and she took off. With a few adjustments she now runs like a new
sewing machine. No smoke either! Would you believe the cooling
system holds 150 gallons and then ‘This’ the radiator and
all fittings never leaked a drop, after 74 years!!
Robert Redman (retired bridge builder) and I did a lot of hard
work on this tractor and we are very happy to see Kerosene Annie
smile back at us for new heart, coat and home inside under roof
with 20 of her direct decendents, all of whom are alive and
You all stop by an pay’em a visit!!
Oscar Cooke is proprietor of Oscar’s Dream land, the
Billings Montana home of his huge farm equipment collection. The
collection includes over 300 tractors, dozens of station’ ary
engines and over 100 threshing machines. He is pictured with
Kerosene Annie on this issue’s back cover.