The Story Behind The Tractor

| May/June 1991

Hickory Hillside Acres Rt 2, Box 84A California, MO 65018

I'm one of those folks who actually enjoys tramping around the country in my spare time looking up old tractors that someone has told me about. I think they call us 'Tractor Nuts'. Obviously I can't afford to buy them all, but there is always a thrill in tracking them down, identifying, and researching them. I really do love 'old iron,' and enjoy viewing old tractors any time I can. They are all different and there is always an interesting story at the end of each hunt.

This story started that way-looking up an old tractor someone told me about. In January 1989 a friend mentioned to me that he knew of a fellow who had an old tractor he might 'get rid of.' Those last three words caught my attention. I got a name and phone number from him. He didn't know what kind of tractor it was, but he knew it was on steel, awfully rusty and hadn't been run in twenty to thirty years. Hey, what the heck, this one was just down the road, only about an hour away from home, and near Sedalia, Missouri.

A few weeks later, I had a free Saturday so I called the man, Mr. Pat Kline, and made arrangements to meet him at his farm. We got there about the same time and pulled in the cedar studded lane of his abandoned farmstead. We parked and got out introducing ourselves. I was ready to view old iron and to have a good chat. I looked around for the old tractor and, not seeing any, I asked Mr. Kline where it was. He pointed to a cedar tree along the lane. I had just walked past the location, but sure enough, down there among the low branches was a pile of rusty iron, an old tractor.

The first thing I noticed was that the cedar was growing through the tractor, between the fenders, firewall and transmission. The tree was about 11 inches in diameter and about 15 feet tall. It completely covered the tractor and had grown through the steering wheel. A closer look revealed the tractor to be an Allis Chalmers. Her steel wheels had settled into the ground until the cast iron oil pan was resting on the ground. Mr. Kline said the tractor was a model 'U' and that his family had bought it new in the early 50's, but he didn't remember what year it was.

I noticed that the engine was a flathead and commented on that. Mr. Kline told me that his father had completely overhauled the engine in 1955, but that after the overhaul they had never been able to get it to start by cranking. He said they had tried a couple different mags and still the only way she would start was by pulling. He said they just parked it and used another newer machine rather than continue working on it. Mr. Kline said he remembered these events well, as they occurred in 1955 just before he left home for military service. The tractor was then abandoned in the fence row and never run again.