Our Versatile ‘G’

By Staff
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1957: Howard Ewing using the 'G' in building new farm house.
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Fall 1993: The restored 'G.'
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1957: Howard Ewing spreading chicken manure on new yard.
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Summer of 1992: Howard Ewing is reunited with his old work companion after more than a decade.
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January 1994: Outside riding stable the very spot where the tractor worked over 35 years ago.
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Summer of 1993: Pat Ewing on partly restored 'G.'

3561 Sorenson Road, Everson, Washington 98247

We Ewings had an eventful year in 1980. My father sold the old
family poultry farm in Kirkland, Washington, to a developer, and
moved to California. Also, my wife and I moved north from that area
to Whatcom County, Washington. During this transition period, the
old 1948 Model G Allis Chalmers was sold. It was hard parting with
that piece of equipment 1 had grown up with, but we had no place to
store it, and didn’t anticipate a need for it any longer.

A few short months later, we purchased wooded acreage in the
foothills of the Cascade Mountain range just south of Canada. Many
times in clearing, burning, driveway installation and home site
preparation I wished I had the old tractor back. I could have kept
the Allis Chalmers quite busy.

Early in August, around a dozen years ago, I went to my first
threshing bee. It was at Berthusen Park in Lynden, Washington. I
was fascinated by all the old equipment and antique tractors. Some
were restored to like-new condition, while others, well, they were
there in all of their ‘experienced glory.’

While enjoying the show and observing the tremendous variety of
equipment, I realized there was nothing there that even came close
to resembling the tractor of my childhood. The old ‘G’ with
the loader was unique. The memories that came rushing back of the
old days on the farm!

I remember being with my father at a tractor dealer in Everett,
Washington, in 1957. The area of farming implements and equipment
we walked through seemed huge and dark to my five year old
perception. Here, at age forty-two, Dad bought the used 1948 Allis
Chalmers Model ‘G,’ serial #G4926, and ordered an
after-market loader for it from the East Coast. After the loader
arrived and the tractor dealer installed it, they delivered the
unit to our new and second poultry farm out near Redmond,
Washington.

Dad put the ‘G’ to use immediately. In building the
buildings he used the loader to raise material up onto the roofs. I
can still see Dad digging out the creek. I remember him driving
down the bank, scooping up a load of muck, then raising the bucket
way up high so most all the weight was towards the rear of the
tractor, then backing up and out with ease, over and over
again.

One of the most fun tractor projects was putting in the lawn at
the new house in 1957. Dad made up a contraption to drag behind the
tractor to level out the yard. Around and around, over and over the
yard we went. I remember riding on the drag. What fun that was!

The primary chore of the ‘G’ was to clean out the
chicken house at the new farm. The main building was long with
large doors on the far end, and sat on a huge cement slab. The
chickens were in cages above the floor with aisles between hem.
Automatic feeders and other equipment helped make this a state of
the art, ultra modern operation. The Allis Chalmers ‘G’ was
one contributor.

From 1957 through 1962 Dad had two poultry farms. (He never sold
the old one in Kirkland, and later in 1963 we moved back to it.)
There were around ten miles of country roads separating the two
farms, and I remember riding on the ‘G’ with my dad on a
number of trips between the farms. It was a long ride because of
the slow speed the tractor would travel (seven miles per hour
tops).

We put the ‘G’ into gear for many purposes. I say
‘we’ because in 1958, when I was six years old, my dad
taught me how to drive the tractor. He would put it in low gear and
walk beside me. What a thrill! I didn’t even mind the two
decades of farm chores that followed so long as I could use the
‘G’!

We would make trails through acres of blackberries during
picking season, hang the row boat up overhead in the garage, remove
and install the ‘cab over’ pick up canopy, load dump trucks
and pick ups with manure, doze snow during winter, and more.

I remember Dad getting furious on a number of occasions after a
truck would drive into the farm and he would head for the garage to
get the tractor to load up the truck, because the ‘G’
wouldn’t start. It wouldn’t start because his brother, who
had a neighboring farm, would take out the battery for his own
Farmall. Finally Dad told my uncle that if he was too cheap to buy
his own six volt battery that he would buy him one. My dad depended
on the reliable ‘G’ for so many things, that he needed to
have it ready to roll at all times.

My dad had a very wide, maybe six or seven foot, bucket made,
which he bolted to the existing bucket of the tractor. Then he took
off the tractor’s fenders and put some large truck tires and
rims on the back to get the height down to fit under the chicken
cages. He also clipped the wire off going to the tail light, and
took off the headlight around this time.

The rear doors of the chicken house were opened and the
‘G’ was run between the rows at full throttle until the
large bucket was full. Dad then would back out and go dump in one
of the various manure piles, then go for it again until the job was
finished. One problem though: the weak frame on the tractor folded
up. It was braced with a small pipe. It folded again. This time a
huge flat bar was welded underneath. I remember many trips being
made to the welding shop over the years. The frame was pretty well
cobbled up in the end.

About the manure piles: they would crust over on top after a
period of time with a grass and weed covering. One day a neighbor
girl ran up on one of the piles and broke though! What a mess!!
I’ll bet she had a good cleaning that day!

During the Sixties and Seventies, my father and I did many odd
jobs with the Allis for neighbors. Dad was always helpful if a
neighbor needed a tractor project done, and I was volunteered for a
number of these projects.

Over the years the old Continental, flat-head, four-banger
developed a knock, so Dad would just slow the throttle down as the
knock got worse and keep on truckinger, tractoring.

Oh, the memories that came back to me while I toured the
tractors at the threshing bee. I came down with the ‘old iron
bug.’ I realized then that when that tractor had been sold,
along with it went a big part of my past. It was even the first
thing that I had ever driven. Oh, how I wanted to get that machine
back!

Several years went by. Every now and then, I would look through
the ads in the papers to see if whoever had the ‘G’ was
trying to sell it. Nope! Finally I bought and restored a Gibson
tractor to play with. Jack Johnson of the tractor club helped me
with this project, which turned out quite nice with a dozer blade
and a plow on a Model A. But nothing could ever replace that unique
old ‘G’ I grew up with.

One day while at Jack’s shop I was reminiscing about the old
‘G.’ I was describing the tractor to him, when he took over
and finished describing it to me! I couldn’t believe it! He
travels far and wide looking for tractors and implements and
several years earlier had been down in Granite Falls, Washington,
looking at a’ Gibson, when he saw the old ‘G’ next to
it in a barn. Jack even knew the owner’s name!

To shorten a long story, I eventually was able to purchase the
‘G’ and bring it home. It sure looked tired and sad, engine
knocking and smoking, tubes poking out the sides of the tires,
etc., but it ran! It ran good! When Dad set eyes on his old
‘work buddy’ upon his visit from California in 1992, he
exclaimed, ‘I never thought I’d see that old thing
again.’ He maneuvered his tired old frame onto the driver’s
seat and promptly raised the loader to the max and said, ‘Take
my picture!’ It was a proud, happy moment for him.

I did a number of odd jobs with the ‘G’ to earn money
that went toward a trailer to haul it on, as well as new tires. A
year or so later restoration began.

It went into Jack’s shop in April 1993 to start the long
process of a major everything. It was knocking and smoking, but
running good when I backed it into the shop.

Sadly, that very night at Jack’s shop, I got a phone call
that my father was in the hospital in critical condition. A blood
clot to his heart. The next morning he passed on. Everything was
suddenly put on hold while I went out of state to take care of
matters.

Upon my return we continued work on the ‘G.’ Jack
totally overhauled the engine, including a much needed crankshaft
turning. We had the starter, generator, radiator, and hydraulics
completely gone through, and replaced all the wiring, gauges,
clutch, etc. Then I took the tractor to Tri Star Fabrication in
Everson, where Brent made a new gas tank and battery box, changed
frames, made new bracing, and a complete new loader.

August 1993: Threshing Bee time. The old ‘G’ went
‘as is.’ It ran great. It looked good and solid now. All it
needed was paint.

September 1993: Back to Jack’s to be painted. I got some
Persian Orange from the dealer in Lynden, and had it color-matched
in acrylic enamel. We also used a hardener and primer sealer. We
were finally able to get it put back together, and I installed the
decals. With a few smaller touches, it was looking good!

As I display the ‘G’ in various shows it will be in
loving memory of my father, Howard Ewing, and of the good life I
had in growing up on the farm. I wished my dad could have seen the
finished product. Jack said that it probably meant more to my dad
seeing it as he remembered it.

On January 22, 19941 had the privilege of visiting the farm my
father built in 1957 using the Allis Chalmers. The old poultry
house is now part of a beautiful complex that is home to the Little
Bit Therapeutic Riding Center. They are a non-profit organization
serving children and adults with disabilities by providing a
unique, recreational approach to therapy through the use of
horses.

I was invited to speak on the history of the farm at their grand
opening celebration. I parked the ‘G’ next to the
speaker’s platform in the large indoor arena, and I displayed a
few other mementos of the old farm days. It was a very nice event
in beautiful facilities carpeted therapy rooms, offices, and
meeting rooms looking out over the indoor arena. A grand piano was
being played, punch served, and a catered dinner and cake finished
it all off. The Allis Chalmers and I were very much a part of a
wonderful ceremony for a very worthy cause. It was a once in a
lifetime event.

History repeats itself. Now I am forty-two years old, not
purchasing the ‘G’ as Dad did at my age, but setting out
with it, newly restored, to plow a new chapter of a new generation.
I plan to continue two family traditions involving the ‘G’:
First is towing Heidi, our daughter, behind the tractor on a sled
when it snows, as my father did for my sister and me years ago.
Second is helping neighbors and acquaintances with small odd jobs.
Using the ‘G’ is all part of the fun!

The restoration is the result of the help of many different
people, especially Jack Johnson who helped me, from finding the
‘G’ in the first place, through the final painting. I thank
everyone for making my dream become a reality.

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