Wiant’s Tractor

By Staff
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Morris Wiant on his Sears tractor from a kit. Photo by Wally Harris.
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Closeup of flywheel, clutch, and chain drive on Wiant's tractor from a kit.

653 Road 230 Americus, Kansas 66835-9531

Sometimes a person sees something that is so unusual that it
might have been ‘cobbled up’ for the sake of getting an
item that will attract attention. At first, I thought this tractor
fit into that category, but upon closer inspection it appears that
this tractor is authentic. It was probably sold by Sears, Roebuck
& Company as a kit which could be ordered either with or
without the engine. I saw it a couple of years ago at the Winfield,
Kansas, show, and at that time it proudly displayed a neatly made
sign proclaiming it to be a ‘Basket Case.’ In 1993 it was
again seen at shows with the sign ‘Deere John’ in authentic
John Deere colors hanging on it.

This was something that I had to investigate further! After
introducing myself to the owner, I learned that he is Morris Wiant
(rhymes with giant) and that he and his wife live in Wichita,
Kansas, where he has worked for the Coleman Company for over 44
years. He bought this unique tractor 4 or 5 years ago from a man
near Goessel, Kansas. At that time it was not in running condition.
The front wheels had been replaced with old mowing machine wheels.
It had no seat, and steering was accomplished by turning what
appears to be an old crank from an ice cream freezer. The ignitor
on the engine had been replaced with a spark plug. Also, there were
no provisions for brakes, nor was there any platform on which one
could stand. With no seat and no platform it is interesting to
speculate just how the operator drove this unit!

Morris said he had spent many hours working on the tractor, but
had no idea of how many. He rebuilt the ignitor, and replaced the
front wheels with others from an old manure spreader, because they
looked more like what one would expect. Using angle iron he
reinforced the original frame which was made from 4×4 wood. Next
came a comfortable seat for two. He installed a steering wheel
instead of the freezer crank and, in the interest of safety,
installed a braking system using found materials, added a platform
on which one could stand, and added safety belts. He has no
information on the unit, so has no idea of color scheme, if one was
used. He prefers, instead, to keep it looking like a
‘working’ tractor. In describing it, he almost reverently
said that if one would look up the word ‘ugly’ in a
dictionary, the picture of this tractor would probably be found
there!

The present engine is a 7 HP Economy which, if original, would
date the unit at 1914 or earlier. Power is transmitted by means of
a clutch on the engine pulley and is controlled by a lever. All
gearing was exposed. The transmission has two forward speeds (slow
and extremely slow according to Morris), and one reverse. The unit
has a heavy duty differential (also exposed). Final drive is by
means of gears to the rear wheels.

When asked if he would sell it, he replied, ‘Definitely not,
my three granddaughters love to ride on it with me during parades
and they would disown me if I sold it.’

Although claiming to be retired from over 44 years from the
Coleman Company in Wichita, Kansas, Morris leads a very active
life. He, his wife Leona, and one, two or three of his four
granddaughters like to take in shows in the vicinity. He is also a
member of the model engine clubs at Goessel and at Pawnee. He has
shown his ‘oddity’ at shows at Pawnee, Goessel and
Win-field.

If you are interested in seeing this very different tractor in
1994 you just might find it at the shows mentioned above. If you
have further information concerning it, I am sure that he would be
‘interested in hearing from you. His address is: Morris Wiant,
820 North Flora, Wichita, Kansas 67212. Phone: (316)943-1367.

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