| January/February 1996

'steel mule.'

Chuck Peters' 'steel mule.'

In our December 1994 edition (page 10), we reprinted an ad from an old Popular Mechanics, which advertised a packet of material to assist those inclined to send for it in building a homemade tractor. The ad had been sent to us by Jeff Klaverweiden, 98 Elm Street, Huntington, New York 11743, who was curious about it. A letter to Popular Mechanics had yielded no information about the ad, nor the plans advertised. After our reprint, however, we received a stack of responses to the appearance of this adit turned out that our subscribers had a lot more information at their fingertips than the staff at Popular Mechanics. Here is what we learned:

From Chuck Peters of N5564 Hwy 57, Hilbert, WI 54129, we received this photo of his tractor built from blue prints which appeared in the 1939 May and June Popular Mechanics. Chuck displays his restored tractor with copies of the original blue prints at shows. He writes,

'I have restored this tractor as close as I can to the original. This tractor is made of 1931 Model A Ford car transmission, 1931 Model AA Ford truck radiator, and Model A 4 blade fan, 1928 2 ton Reo speed wagon truck rear end, standard 6 volt starter and generator from a Model A Ford car, #60 roller bearing chain from transmission to Reo rear end, transmission output shaft - 16 tooth sprocket to 84 tooth sprocket on Reo speed wagon rearend, 2 drawbars -1 stationary lower swinging draw bar higher. Gas tank from a pre-1920 Buick car, muffler is a standard Model A Ford car. 4 speeds: 3 forward, 1 reverse, 2.25 mph - low gear 2.61 mph - medium gear 2.83 mph - third gear 8.5 mph. Reo speed wagon 3 to 1 gear reduction.

'Front wheels are 24' by 3' I.H.C. with by 1 skid ring, Model T Ford spindles and bearings. Rear wheels are 40' wagon tires inch thick by 4' wide. Spokes are x 1 angle iron. There are 12 spokes per wheel, and 20 lugs x 1 x 1 angle iron, 6 inches long. These lugs are spaced 6 inches apart. Rear wheels were made according to Popular Mechanics'' blueprints. I made the front and rear wheels on this tractor.

'Colors are: smoke gray body, black engine and transmission and radiator, safety red wheels, and safety red champion cast iron seat. This engine was started on gas 2 quart can on back of muffler hand pumped into carburetor, then switched to kerosene when engine was warmed up.

'This tractor pulled two 14 inch bottom plows in Calumet County heavy soil in low gear. It was equipped with individual hydraulic brakes and 2 clutches. One was a foot clutch and the other a hand clutch working off the foot clutch.