Farmall Power: An Electrical Model A

Restored Farmall Model A works as a backup power supply.

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Wayne Reinbold’s Farmall Model A is not just another pretty face. The restored tractor serves as a power generator.

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Most restored tractors emerge from the shed only for shows and parades. A restored Farmall Model A in Michigan is the exception. When the weather is at its worst, the Farmall goes to work as a backup power supply. Thanks to modifications made by Wayne Reinbold, Reese, Mich., this tractor is also a generator.

Wayne's dad bought the Farmall tractor new in 1943 during World War II, when tractors were in scarce supply. Farmers who could demonstrate a need were placed on a priority list. "Then you waited until your tractor was built and shipped," Wayne explains. "It was quite simple. When a tractor came in, the dealer called. Bring $680 cash, and it's yours. If you don't have the money, the next guy will take it. My dad must have had the cash, because this tractor has been on the farm since 1943."

Over the years, Wayne's dad made several enhancements to the Farmall Model A. He added a front hitch, useful for moving machinery in sheds, and he added a hand clutch. When Wayne retired, he decided to restore the Farmall. "It had been overhauled some years ago and ran fine," he says. "So we straightened the sheet metal, added paint and decals." But that was just the beginning.

Wayne's neighbor had a Farmall Model A with a Woods mower that he used to cut grass on a landing strip. "One look at that drive pulley," Wayne says, "and I could see how we could make an electrical Farmall Model A."

The belt pulley runs almost twice as fast as the PTO. "We needed 3,600 rpm to make it work," Wayne says. The Woods mower drive pulley is a 9-inch unit with an insert to match the splines on the belt pulley shaft.

Wayne built a sub-frame of flat steel to fit the drawbar. "I used 3-inch channel with a crosspiece to bolt to the front pull bar," he says. "That piece is 27 inches long." Then he welded a 24-inch piece to the bottom edge so the alternator would fit. He also built slides and tighteners to work on the channel for belt tension.

The 1-inch jackshaft is mounted on a slide to give the short belt the correct tension. He cut a keyway for the two pulleys. "I use the 9-inch Woods drive pulley to a 3-inch on the jackshaft," he says. The 1-inch jackshaft has a 4-inch pulley driving a 3-inch pulley on the 10,000-watt generator.

The tractor generates 240 volts of electricity while running at about one-third throttle and will run for at least 24 hours on one tank of gas. "We used it three times last year," Wayne says. "One time the power was out for two days."

Wayne cautions that extreme care must be taken in making the connection to power lines. "You have to do it right or somebody could get hurt," he says. "The first thing you need is a master switch or breaker to isolate you from the grid. Switch it off and start the generator."

He also put a small light on the supply side when he installed the switch on the breaker. "That way, when the electricity comes back on, you'll know," he says.

Wayne uses a welder or an oven range-type plug in his shop to feed electricity to the system. A short length of heavy flexible cord hooks the alternator to the plug. "Just remember to shut the electric supply line off," he says, "and enjoy being independent."

The restored Farmall is both a cherished heirloom and a practical tool on the farm. "I'm an old German," Wayne says. "It can't just look good: It's got to do something!" He estimates costs of about $650 for the tractor and $400 for the wiring modifications. "Don't skimp," he advises. "Do it right, and it'll work for you."

For more information: Wayne Reinbold, 10210 Janes Rd., Reese, MI 48757; (989) 754-2535.