About three years ago my dad, brother and I decided to get a hobby.
Dad thought old tractors and machinery might be fun. We also wanted to make some small deer plots by our woods. So Dad went to Wausau, Wis., and bought a 1962 Allis-Chalmers D-17 Series II. We never really intended to restore it, but somehow that’s what happened. I’m 18 years old. I’ve been helping my dad and brother restore AC tractors and implements for two years, and I really love it.
We use the tractors regularly. We fix them up, give them a good coat of paint and then we use them. They look like brand new and run like brand new, but we still take them out to do some work. That’s what Allis-Chalmers built them to do and that’s what we are going to use them for. We do take them to local parades and show them off. We’re thinking about taking one to this year’s Orange Spectacular.
Tackling a D-19
Our second restoration project was a 1963 Allis-Chalmers D-19 gas tractor. We bought it two years ago for $1,500. The tractor was a great deal, but there was also a great deal of work to do on it. The rear main seal leaked, the power director jumped out of high range, the PTO seal leaked really badly and the transmission needed some work.
In October 2007, we got the D-19 in the shop right after we got the D-17 out. The first thing we wanted to tackle was the transmission. The main pinion bearing was out and it was making noises. To do that meant removing the braking mechanism, bull gears, differential and rear axles.
The most agonizing part of fixing the D-19 was trying to get the rear hubs off. It was two weeks of torching the hubs till they were cherry red and then just hitting them with hammers till they freed up. Eventually we got them off and then it took no time at all to get the transmission apart and then put it all back together again.
The power director also gave us some problems, as the rollers were bad. Some were worn out and did not snap in place. The last major problem was a lack of oil pressure: The rear main seal was out, a problem we weren’t aware of when we bought the tractor. We discovered it when we went to spread manure and engine oil poured out of the clutch inspection hole. We had a new seal put in there and in every compartment that we opened, just to make sure.
Getting down and dirty
We did all the work in the fall and winter. When spring rolled around, it was time to get really dirty. My job was to sandblast the entire tractor and all the sheet metal, a very strenuous job. I had to be very careful not to get sand in any of the new seals we put in. I put plastic bags around the areas where I did not want sand to get in and duct taped it to seal those areas. It took a lot of hours and a lot of sand to get the tractor blasted, but I didn’t have any ruined seals and it was a complete success.
The next step was to prime and paint the tractor. For a painting booth, we set up a carport in our shop and covered the floor with plastic. That worked really well. We painted the main tractor first. We hung parts, fenders and hoods from a rack and sprayed them. When we finished painting, we just disassembled the carport and boxed it up until we need it again.
We started putting the final touches on in September. We got all the hoods on and ordered decals. We installed new gauges and put on a new wiring harness. The tractor is like brand new! We are very proud of the work we have done on the D-19 and the tractor works great.
Trio sold on Allis
I really got hooked on the history of Allis-Chalmers and did a lot of research on the company. I like the idea that the tractors were made right here in Wisconsin and that the company was so advanced in some of the things they made.
We found a Roto Baler and bought that. Then my brother, Adam, got interested in AC farm equipment. Now we have a nice collection of machinery, about a dozen pieces. My dad liked the hobby of collecting AC but was not as into it as I wanted him to be, so I talked him into going to the Orange Spectacular. From that day on he was hooked on Allis-Chalmers. All of us, as my mom would say, “bleed orange.”
We now have seven tractors in our collection. We are working on getting the D-Series tractors. I bought my first AC tractor last month, an Allis-Chalmers CA. Currently we are working on a D-14. We are very proud of our Allis-Chalmers farm equipment. I hope to carry on the legacy of Allis-Chalmers. For us, it is a really good father-and-sons project. FC