141 Bell St., Milton, Ontario, Canada
A huge 40-80 h.p. Minneapolis gas tractor that spent most of its
working life plowing and threshing in the wide open spaces of North
Dakota was one of the new pieces of equipment at Steam-Era reunion
In fact, it was probably the largest tractor ever seen at the
show. Standing 11 feet 10 inches high, 23 feet long and 10 feet six
inches wide, it was a rather impressive sight.
Sherwood Hume of Milton, one of the hard-working members of the
show’s sponsors, the Ontario Steam and Antique Preservers’
Association, bought the dirty rusty rig from a man in Minnesota and
trucked it home to Milton in May of this year. Since then, every
available minute he and a host of friends could spare had been
spent cleaning, rebuilding and restoring the old junker until it
was in running shape.
Restoration of the 1916 tractor has been a labor of love for Mr.
Hume and his helpers. It wasn’t much to look at when he brought
it home last May. The tractor, last used about 1940, had been
rescued from where it sat sinking into the mud 70 miles west of
Fargo, North Dakota by Danny Roen of Comstock, Minnesota about five
years ago. Until Mr. Hume bought it, it just sat rusting away.
Starting the painstaking job of restoring it to as near its
original condition as possible, the new owner found it needed a lot
of work. The crankshaft was 40/1000ths out of line, the main
bearing was burnt out, the connecting rod and main bearing caps
were missing, and the mechanical oilers were a wreck. It had more
things wrong with it than right.
‘It wouldn’t have been so bad if all the parts were
there but they weren’t,’ lamented Hume. ‘We had to
start in and make brand new parts for it.’
Some parts travelled all over southern Ontario until someone
found a way to repair them. Bill Watson of Kilbride took the engine
and spent weeks repairing it and getting it to turn over. Archie
Cairns, a local carpenter, was given the task of building a new
wooden cab to replace the smashed mess that came home from
Special permission was given us by Mr. Roy Downs, the news
editor of The Canadian Champion to use this story and picture and
to Mr. Downs we say Thank You for permitting us to use your photo
And meanwhile, a host of friends including Peter Watson, Gordon
Hume, E. Downs, Will Hume, Bob Clarke, Bob Randell and Ernie Batty
set to work helping Mr. Hume with some of the finer work.
It took a week to steam clean the body of the tractor, another
week to scrape off the rust and dirt, and 10 hours of sandblasting.
You can imagine -the work when you consider the wheels alone stand
seven feet four inches high and are 30 inches wide. Today
they’re clean, repainted a bright red, and neatly pinstriped
just like the original tractor.
The rad, which holds 110 gallons of water, has 342 half-inch
tubes, each 36 inches long. All had to be cleaned and dipped to get
them back in original shape.
The story of the work connected with restoring the old
‘Minnie’ is typical of the hours of sweat involved in
preparing most of the exhibits shown at the Steam-Era. Most
visitors at the annual Milton reunion don’t realize how much
‘blood, sweat and tears’ (literally) goes into the
Now Mr. Hume has his next year’s project all picked out.
When he drove his float to Minnesota to pick up the tractor, he got
a look at another old relic, a 30-60 Altman Taylor that was sitting
around just looking for a new owner. And he bought it.
Well, there go his nights and weekends for next year!