Natural Gas Fired IHC 10-20

By Staff

160909 Carter Cannon Gering, Nebraska 69341

Farming 320 acres of irrigated row crop in Western Nebraska was
a full time job for my dad in the mid 1940s. Carrying five gallon
cans of tractor fuel to a John Deere ‘A’ that was belted up
to an irrigation pump became a little tiresome and Dad needed the
‘A’ for other duties.

Dad (Jesse gone now for 21 years) decided to move the IHC 10-20,
which was a bear to drive in the field, to the pump where it could
run on natural gas available from the nearby house. A gas line
extension was run out to the pump and a pressure regulator
installed by the gas company utility crew. Then the search for a
carburetor setup to handle the natural gas revealed that the
conversion was going to be more costly than Dad could afford right
then. Lacking detailed knowledge, but full of confidence, he
decided to tap into the manifold of the old tractor, turn on the
gas, and see if it would run.

The 10-20 had been fitted with an elbow and a piece of stove
pipe for a vertical exhaust pipe. Dad was standing next to the
engine and exhaust pipe working the magneto impulse lever and
turning on the natural gas while I cranked her over. Several lifts
on the hand crank and nothing, then on the next turn KA-BOOM!! The
stove pipe split wide open, Dad was knocked down, I was startled,
and the engine did NOT start.

After we regained our senses and Dad regained most of his
hearing, we held an engineering study and design review. The gas
line had been tapped into the EXHAUST manifold. After the system
loaded up she BLEW.

We relocated the gas inlet into the upper part of the
carburetor, and after that modification the engine started nicely
on gasoline and switched to natural gas easily. However, on natural
gas the engine missed occasionally, so Dad mounted a drip oilier to
the carb intake and solved that problem.

The old tractor pumped that well for more than 25 years on
pennies per day in fuel cost with little or no maintenance. I’m
convinced that the old timers were pretty good homestead engineers
when the need arose.

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