New Hobby Harvests A Crop Of New Friends

| November/December 1993

  • Twin cylinder Gaar Scott tractor

  • Twin cylinder Gaar Scott tractor

Written by Arron Dudley 12950 Hillcrest Drive Chino, California 91710

Combined skills, dreams and nostalgic enthusiasm of a Canadian wheat farmer, a machinist and a tool-and-die maker, and a lifelong stockman have come together to produce a gleaming, running quarter-scale replica of a 1920 Gaar Scott steam tractor.

Germ of the project started back in the 'roaring twenties' when those giant, iron-wheeled, monster tractors began belching and clanging their way into farms of the North American continent, displacing horses and giving new meaning to the word 'horsepower.' Perched atop one of those early iron giants was a diminutive farm boy, Dennis Griswold, piloting the big tractor across the vast wheat fields of western Canada.

California beckoned Dennis; and after a few seasons aboard the big harvest giant he reluctantly climbed down, left the throttle and walked away. But the memory of those teenage summers in command of that hissing, churning early tractor never left. As the years fell away, the memories intensified, as all old-timers can attest. In 1979, with a lifetime of machine shop experience behind him, Dennis gave in to his dreams. He would recreate the tractor of his Canadian teenage years.

Three years and 2,000 hours of machine work later, the former Canadian farm boy called fellow steam engine hobbyists in to critique his quarter-size twin cylinder Gaar Scott tractor, five feet long, 450 pounds, a handmade dream.

The finished model, while reflecting some crudeness of its original 1920s predecessor, gave few hints of a genealogy tracing to junkyards, aviation surplus stores and scrap heaps. Precision parts, many not visible to the casual observer, have no junkyard background. They were painstakingly machined from blocks of solid metal.