My Crosley Mighty Mite

By Staff
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R.2, Box 371-13, Buckhannon, West Virginia 26201

Several years ago I acquired an old Mighty Mite #10 tractor. A
couple of people told me it was an Eshelman Estate tractor, but I
found the name-plate. It was made by the Jacques Saw Company.
(Maybe like the one in the February 1994 GEM. Mine is red in color
and probably dates about 1946.)

The power unit was a Model 23 B & S fed into a modified Jeep
transmission; a short shaft to a differential through a set of
large bull gears to axles, like most of the larger row-crop
tractors, such as F-20 Farmall, for instance.

This rig was a real piece of art when I got it. The original
engine was a basket case. Someone had substituted a 5 HP engine
that didn’t cut it. Sort of like putting a Volkswagen motor in
a Kenworth.

With some judicial scrounging and a few visits to the scrap
yard, I found another B & S 23 and a couple of 19s. I now had
all the parts to get the original 23 going, plus a few spare parts
to keep it running. That ol’ 23 is a fine engine. It is rated
at 9 HP governed. Throttled direct, it’s capable of about five
more horsepower.

I mounted up the 23 after a 15 minute test run. The clutch
needed more attention than I could give. It was ‘kaput.’ I
made a centrifugal speed clutch using a flywheel from a small
Tecumseh four stroke and a pair of motorcycle brake shoes. (If
anyone wants to know how I pulled this off, you’re more than
welcome to write me and I’ll send you the specs.)

This setup worked great for about two years of very hard use:
hauling wood, rocks, scrap iron, plowing a garden, blading and all
kinds of tugging and pulling.

I was pulling a large heavy load, about ton, up over the hill,
and the clutch started slipping. I couldn’t stop, for this
tractor only has band brakes on the differential. They don’t
hold at all in reverse. By the time I got to the top of the hill,
the converted flywheel-clutch drum was glowing a dull red and
smelling of hot metal. Then there was a loud clang and the tractor
stopped and the ol’ 23 started winding up. I got it shut down
and backed into the road bank. On inspection of the damage, I found
the aluminum alloy brake shoes totally gone melted down!

I got the tractor wheeled to our shop, where I tried to fake up
a usable clutch. While I had it torn down, I noticed the bearings
on the input shaft in the transmission were missing about half the
balls. On closer inspection, the whole transmission was worn too
much for much more use.

Now, it was decision time. I was lost without my little horse.
What to do? Then, I got a 10-KW idea! I have a couple of Crosley
cars and a lot of parts; engines, transmissions, etc. I did some
measuring and figuring, then went to work on it.

The little Crosley was a natural for this tractor. I used the
whole setup from radiator to transmission. At least I had a good
clutch! I did have to move the steering box and add about 6′ to
the drag link, but it sure works great!

I made the radiator shell out of a section of water tank with a
piece of expanded metal for a grille. Side panels out of an old gas
furnace were used for the hood and firewall. The instrument cluster
is from a 48 Crosley. The engine is a 50.

With some cleaning up and some paint, it may be show-ready. At
this time, it’s a daily user.

The Crosley engine is a natural for a project like this.
It’s compact, very easy to work on and has good power for its
size.

I included a couple of pictures, one of the tractor. (Note the
jury-rigged gas tank under the seat.) The other picture shows the
Crosley engine. The 1950 model is of the overhead cam type
gear-driven by a tower shaft on front of the engine. The head and
cylinders are one piece of cast iron and the crankcase is aluminum.
It is four cylinder 2 by 2 B & S rated at 26.5 HP. A fine
little motor, way ahead of its time!

I want to give a hearty thanks to all you folks who I.D.’d
my ‘Mystery Motor’ and what it was used for.

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