69 Dawn Avenue Piano, Illinois 60545.
It all started about 35 years ago when a neighbor to my folks
fell and broke his hip just as spring work was to begin. He and his
son farmed together, and the son fell behind due to a wet
My dad went around to some of the immediate neighbors to put
together a work crew to help the son out. They would come in on
Saturday and Sunday and get him caught up. Another neighbor on the
back road found out about it and wanted to help also. He showed up
with his father and two Massey Harris 44’s, one on a three
bottom plow and the other on a 12 foot Kewanee disc.
Various other makes showed up that day (something like 12 or 13
I think). They worked bean and corn ground all day Saturday. Sunday
was to be the conversion of my father from IHC to Massey Harris
That morning we pulled into about 20 acres of four year old
alfalfa sod. The 44 on the plow out pulled everything else in the
field. Dad was plowing deeper and faster and did it on less fuel.
After that weekend, my dad talked about it quite often.
Some weeks later, I came home from school to find a M-H 44-6
parked in the corn crib. So started our love affair with the 44. A
year or so later, I sold a bunch of hogs I had raised on my own,
and bought a 44. We used these two 44’s and our faithful old
F-30 Farmall to do the farm work at home, and on another 140 acre
farm we were renting, for several years.
I got married and went to work in construction to support my
family, and helped my dad evenings and weekends. Years later, when
my folks had their sale, the 44-6 sold for a fair price, but the 44
(mine) didn’t seem to bring a high enough bid, so I bid it in.
It now sits behind my shop under a tarp waiting for a new battery
and paint job.
Mechanically it is good, but it could use new rear tires (old
age). I have a lot of sentiment for this tractor, because it was
the first major implement I ever bought.
While looking at it from time to time, I hit upon the idea of a
scale model to ride around on at the engine shows. This along with
a cart would save us a lot of walking. (I get enough at work.) It
would also fit easily on the engine trailer.
The idea was reinforced about two years ago when I found an old
Bolens riding tractor transmission at a farm sale. The top of it
looked very much like the 44 transmission, and I got it for $4. I
brought it home and put it in the ‘Mini Massey’ pile. I
kept an eye out at sales and scrap yards for 15′ or 16′ bar
tread tires for the rear, as well as other components I thought
I had purchased a 6 HP B&S at a sale about 15 years ago for
$11, that had been partially disassembled by someone-a few small
parts were missing, but the inside of it was like new. I put new
rings and seals in it anyway and found parts to replace the missing
ones. The front wheels came off of a dolly I got at a sale this
spring. The seat is off a two wheel garden tractor sulky. The 12
volt starter-generator and voltage-generator from a 12 HP Kohler
engine I got at another sale and installed in my lawn tractor. It
cost me $12. The steering wheel came from a small riding mower.
My half-inch socket sets suffered several losses for the
steering shaft assembly (U joints, extensions, etc.). Miscellaneous
other pieces came from the scrap yards (steel, channel iron, seat
spring, headlight enclosures, shafting, checker plate, etc.). I got
a pair of 5.50×16 Goodyear bartread tires from a friend of mine,
and I scaled them to a 12×38 tire and came up with .424. Hence the
2/5 scale for the ‘Mini Massey’.
After measuring the full size 44 about a hundred different ways, I
made a list of measurements and multiplied them by .424.
This gave me all the ideal dimensions needed. In January 1991, I
was on layoff from work, and it looked like it was going to last
awhile. The ‘Mini Massey’ pile was big enough to start
I cleaned out the trans and put in new grease seals. Then
platforms were made to attach to the trans. The hubs were too
narrow to mount Massey style wheels on, so extension hubs had to be
made from pipe and heavy steel discs turned on a lathe, bored for
lug bolts, and fitted to the old hubs.
Next came the frame made of channel iron, with sections cut out
and reversed, welded back in to simulate the Massey cast frame.
Washers welded to it gave it the look of raised bosses for the
implement mountings. This took two days of trial and error, but it
was worth it.
With the frame formed and attached to the platforms with a
couple of vise grips, the ‘thinking stool’ engineering
began. Fitting the components and getting them to miss each other
was quite a task (more trial and error), but as time went on, it
all worked out.
With some parts I had to cheat on the scale, mainly because I
couldn’t scale down my big behind, but anyway, on to the tin
After making cardboard cross sections for the front, middle and
rear of the hood and gas tank (using the list of scaled down sizes)
I used string to check out the hood lines for symmetry.
After some modifications, I started making steel parts for the
radiator, hood and gas tank supports. Except for the hood and gas
tank steel, which I took to a welding shop to have the creases
formed in a brake, the rest was formed in my own shop.
The grille is a piece of 16 gauge steel with 3H/16′ holes
with the sections in between cut out. The rear wheels were made
from the ends of a water pressure tank welded into 16′ rims and
fitted to the hubs.
After four months off to work on it full time, I had it shaped
up very well. A call to an M-H collector got me the correct color
paint numbers in DuPont Centari, and the rest is history.
I went back to work in May, so I had less time to work on it,
and just barely got it ready for our show, the Sandwich Early Day
Engine Club Show, June 29 & 30, 1991.
It didn’t have the fenders, lights or swinging drawbar on it
yet, but was still a hit! I figured that it would be a good show
piece, but I never dreamed how well it would be accepted. The
people seem to love it! Even engine and tractor folks really take
to it. Since then, I made the fenders, lights and drawbar and had
them on in time for the Bureau Valley Antique Club Show at Ohio,
Illinois two weeks later.
Maybe next year my full size 44 will be at our show beside the
‘Mini Massey’ and be just as shiny.
P.S. I have people asking for the patterns or drawings for my
‘Mini Massey’ and I must tell you there aren’t any, and
never were. The only ones I used were in my head. It was just a
freelance sort of thing. Thank you!