My Funny Little Tractor


| July/August 1997



25 E. Larsen Fresno, California 93706 .

On a recent trip to the Umpaq Valley of North Dakota to see family and friends, I was invited along on a family picnic to the country. A lot of the younger people had their motorcycles and ATV's along and were playing on a nearby hill. Being so far from town, this was the popular thing to do after chores or after church on Sunday.

I happened to notice some strange tracks on the ground, much like Caterpillar tracks, and when I asked, they told me of a neighbor who had this antique tractor that they had tried out on the slopes just for fun the week before. When I showed interest they suggested we go get it; it was only twenty miles away. And, so we did.

This was the strangest little tractor I'd ever seen, and I was impressed with it right away. It was a single-track type crawler with a two wheel driver's cart and a steering wheel to guide it. The boys invited the owner along for lunch, and we loaded it up and headed back to the outing. They said it was a little slow and cumbersome but a great little hill climber. They .warned me about the crank not disengaging on startup. I'm glad they told me as I might have broken an arm on it. You've got to let go quickly!

Back at the picnic, as we finished our lunch I really had no interest in eating. My mind was on nothing but the 'Little Fella' we'd brought along. I expressed my interest, and as the little tractor had no name tag for identification, I nicknamed it 'Greenie' after its dull green paint job. The owner corrected me and said that he thought it was a 'Bea' for he had discerned a barely legible 'John Bea' on the inside of one of the castings. The boys preferred 'Greenie' to 'Bea' and that's what stuck for the rest of my stay in the Umpaq Valley.

Greenie was a strange design alright, as if the designer had tried to stay narrow and only built it with one track. But then he had to widen out with the two wheels on the driver's cart to keep it from falling over! The boys were right; it was very hard to steer because of its articulated design, but it would almost climb a tree! Its Caterpillar type track had cleats that got a very good bite and nothing would stop it except the truly perpendicular. Its large front wheel (idler) could easily roll over any rough spot and its smaller, rear drive sprocket assured plenty of power to the track.