The Making of a Mini McCormick Tractor

| September/October 2002

Take One McCormick-Deering Model LA Engine, Combine it With a Whole Lot of Work and a Healthy Dose of Ingenuity, and This is What You Get

I have wanted a steel-wheeled tractor ever since I saw a documentary on the History Channel showing steel-wheeled tractors plowing the prairie. For some reason they just say 'tractor' to me more than their rubber-wheeled counterparts.

I live in town, so there isn't any room for me to restore (let alone store) a full-sized steel-wheeled tractor like a Fordson or McCormick-Deering. Instead, I decided to build a smaller version of the real thing rather than not have one at all.

An electrician by trade, I have a love of all things mechanical. I have water-cooled hit-and-miss engines as well as some antique air-cooled engines. I received formal training in various engineering disciplines while serving in the military, but I am by no means an engineer. If I have misused or miss-applied formulas or made other engineering mistakes, I apologize - I simply don't know any better, and I welcome all feedback as I feel everyone has some particular knowledge the rest of us do not.

Calculating the Basics

In 1999 I acquired a 1960 Page garden tractor and restored it. Restoring the Page was very instructional, as the Page showed me how engineers can get brute force for plowing from small horsepower engines. Using the Page to plow a small garden, I learned the value of gear reduction, increased traction from large diameter rear wheels,

why a tractor needs independent rear brakes and how a pivoting drawbar can make up for a small range in drawbar travel for getting implements in and out of the ground. I tried to employ strengths and weaknesses I learned while restoring the Page when I set out to build my tractor.