Club members work to restore Allis-Chalmers 6-12
Discarded decades ago in the woods northeast of
North Adams, Mich., the 1919 Allis-Chalmers Model 6-12 General
Purpose tractor was just something for little boys to play on. But
last year, the 6-12 shone like new again when members of the Center
Adams Power and Equipment Club drove the smartly restored tractor
in the North Adams Heritage Days Parade.
Club member Bernal Tolan, Hillsdale, Mich., had known about the
tractor for 20 years. The tractor had a face only a mother could
love. "It looked like a piece of junk to me and everyone else," he
recalls, describing the 6-12. But in 2002, he finally convinced the
landowner to part with it. After Bernal's relatives and neighbors
hauled the unidentified skeleton out of the woods, they called
another club member, Dave Boardman, Osseo, Mich. He brought by an
Allis-Chalmers book and identified the tractor as a 6-12. Club
members decided to make it a project, and the work began. This time
it was big boys playing on the tractor.
Restored from top to bottom
Virtually every part of the tractor cried out for restoration.
Everything that wasn't missing or rotten was frozen. "The wheels
and steering wheel would not turn," Dave recalls. "None of the
levers would move. The bottoms of the wheels were rotted off. There
was no sulky, radiator, governor, carburetor or gas tank cap."
Brothers Jim and Dick Anspaugh pulled the front wheel and axle
assembly out of the housing. They built a fire inside a hollow log
and set the wheels over it. Once it was hot enough, they used a
sledgehammer to drive the axles out of the wheels.
The front wheels were the most perplexing part of the project.
New bushings and pins were built for the drive axle. But after
putting the axles and wheels on the tractor, the drive sprocket
wasn't true. The crew then took out a section of the drive sprocket
and drilled the holes larger where the sprocket mounted on the
wheels. This enabled the drive sprocket to slide back, and stopped
the wheel from binding on the axle as it turned.
The 6-12 had grease cups instead of grease zerks for oil and
grease points, but they were rotted off. Dave tapped out the holes
where the grease cups went in, and used pipe to make new
standpipes. Using a valve stem from a portable air tank, Dave
filled the standpipes with WD-40, then forced it through with air
pressure. After a week or so, it started moving.
Chasing parts and pieces
Replacement parts for the 1919 relic are not available, so club
members became resourceful in restoring the 6-12. The men bought a
round tube the right size to go back to the sulky, and machined it
to fit where it went into the tractor frame at the front. Dave and
the two brothers scrounged around their farms for more parts. For
the rear of the 6-12, they used an axle and wheels from an old
silage blower. Dave pulled the seat spring off an old dump rake,
and using scrap iron Dick had on hand, they welded it together to
make a new sulky.
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