Keith LadageSleichter family
Photos by Keith Ladage
Standing out like a shrub in a tulip field, Nancy Sleichter's tractor was, nonetheless, among family. In the crowd of orange iron at this year's Allis Chalmers Days in Homestead, Iowa, Nancy's deep green Allis 10-18 was not only a member of the family, it was the grandpappy of all the orange in sight.
But the Allis-Chalmers family tree was not the only one in full bloom in Homestead. Two of the other Allises at the show were owned by Sleichters. Nancy's children were also there, showing their vintage Allis-Chalmers tractors.
The Sleichter family collection began in response to Nancy's somewhat finicky taste in gifts. Nancy's late husband, Richard, was a farmer and the couple lived on their farm outside of Riverside, Iowa. 'My husband had land in Texas,' Nancy explained. 'When he traveled there, I stayed home to take care of our farm and when he returned, he always brought me back items I objected to. Then one day, he brought me back an Allis G.'
The 'G' suited Nancy just fine. It was probably a safe bet, considering Nancy's family had owned an Allis dealership when she was a child. She loved it and was soon driving it. It was not long after the 'G' came to the Sleichter farm that a neighbor stopped by and asked if they knew that the early version of Allis-Chalmers came in green rather than the well-known Persian Orange. Nancy hadn't known, but knew that she would have to have one.
After a little research, the Sleichters found a 20-35 Allis-Chalmers in Kansas. They bought it and had their first green Allis. Soon after buying the 20-35, a friend of the Sleichters said he had seen a 10-18 - the first Allis-Chalmers model made - at a nearby farm. At first, Nancy said, they doubted this rare tractor could be so close by. 'We thought we would never see one of these, but there it was.'
Negotiation commenced almost immediately and the Sleichters added the 10-18 to their growing collection.
Luckily enough, the 10-18 which had been hiding so nearby was in good shape. The neighbor they had bought it from was the original owner, who had ordered it from a catalog. 'The tractor runs and has all the original parts. Everything was there. We only had the valve and fenders and gas tanks replaced,' Nancy added.
The 10-18s were built from 1914 to 1918 in Milwaukee, Wis. Prior to building this seminal model, the Allis-Chalmers Manufacturing Co. had first manufactured milling burrs and other milling supplies. Expanding in the 1850's, they produced centrifugal pumps, steam engines and electric power components.
Author C.H. Wendel described the 10-18 in his book, Encyclopedia of American Farm Tractors, as 'a three-wheeled tricycle type of tractor weighing 4,800 pounds. Rated 10 at draw bar and 18 brake horsepowers, it used a two-cylinder opposed engine. Two tanks were situated at the left side of the operator - a small one for gasoline used in starting, and a main tank for kerosene which was used after the engine warmed up.'