My Dad's WC Allis Chalmers


| May/June 1995


Rt 1, Box 75A Ivanhoe, Minnesota 56142

One morning last February, coffee cup in hand, I stopped by the kitchen window to look out at an old WC Allis Chalmers sitting on the far side of the garden. As I watched the snow swirl around it I began to recall my association with it and the events that brought it here.

I know almost nothing of its earliest existence. I know from its serial number that it was made in 1942. In fact, I can guess that the dust from the attack on Pearl Harbor had barely settled when this tractor came off the line all shiny and orange. The war forced changes in manufacturing methods at Allis Chalmers as that company and the nation geared up for war. But, this is essentially a prewar machine. It was probably shipped to a farmer in southwest Minnesota and put to work growing food.

My personal experience with it began about 1962. My dad was a farm boy and although we lived in town we always had a garden, the bigger the better. We also heated our home and did much of our cooking with a wood burning furnace and an old Kalamazoo cook stove. To help with these chores Dad bought the Allis. Our wood cutting was done before it became as trendy as it is now. Our equipment consisted of the Allis, a 1949 Chevy pickup, an old Wards chainsaw and a buzzsaw that Dad made using a two wheel trailer and an old four cylinder Wisconsin combine engine.

We would go to the creek bottom south of town where someone wanted a pasture opened up or had bulldozed some trees to get at the gravel underneath. Dad would pull a tree out where we could get at it. My brother and I would brush it out with axes and Dad would cut it into lengths for the buzzsaw. We did all the splitting by hand with hammers, wedges and axes. We needed twelve to eighteen full size trees plus some corn cobs to get through a winter.

For several years Dad and a friend of his went together to raise potatoes for both families. We put in about two and a half acres of potatoes and a few squash and pumpkins. This led to the only time that we had a close call with the Allis. Bill, the son of Dad's friend, was to return a borrowed disc and then run the tractor to their house and park it. I wedged myself against the left fender with my foot against the drawbar. My brother Glenn sat on the right fender and with Bill driving, down the road we went. The bridge across the creek had a steel railing. As we approached it in road gear I could see that, while the tractor wheels would clear the right railing, the disc would not. I yelled and Bill swerved just in time to clear the railing by inches. No one was hurt but it was a near thing. We could have ended up, three kids on the creek bottom with the tractor disc and railing on top!