Homemade Scale Model Tractors
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The front grille was made from the tubing that JD lawn tractors were crated in. He sawed them down the middle and made a die, then formed the grille bars.
"When I changed the tractor to a tricycle type, the frame was too light," he says. "I had to reinforce with 3/8-inch plates on each side, the length of the tractor, and also make other bracings. I mounted a 17 hp Koehler engine and relocated the gas tank. The exhaust manifold was redesigned. There were a lot of pulleys to be machined and many guards and shields to be made and mounted.
"The differential had to be dismantled and machined in order to mount hubs with electric brakes salvaged from a house trailer, enabling me to install individual brakes to each rear wheel," he adds. "I was unable to find 16-inch trailer rims, so I found two rims the width I liked, and took out the centers. I welded in a 1-inch plate and machined it to fit the trailer hubs. While it was in the lathe, I cut a groove in the 1-inch plate and laid it out, drilled and tapped holes, so if one wanted to mount dual rear wheels, it would be simple."
Ralph molded a hood cover using fiberglass, a difficult procedure in itself. But don't let the complexity of Ralph's conversion discourage you: his experience and project were unique. You don't have to be an engineer to make models.
Jim Turnbull's Deere L project wasn't easy either. Take your time, he says.
"I like to use parts of old riding mowers, because they're small and plentiful," he says. "I found the L's steering wheel in a junkyard about eight years before I decided to build the model. But I knew that I would have kids and eventually build them something like my dad built for me!"
Keep proportions in mind, he advises.
"The hardest thing to find is the correct size tire-and-wheel combination to make it look its best, then to make it the correct scale so it's driveable for the kids," he says. "I also set up the pedal models so that the pedal needs to be pushed to go. The tractor stops if released, or if a kid should fall off. I changed sprockets twice to get the right speed."
Jim used a 4 hp Briggs & Stratton engine with a four-to-one gearbox built on it, then a shaft to a forward-and-reverse box off a mower. He put a chain to the rear end with a jack shaft with a brake drum on it. He used two wheels from a Vespa scooter he'd ridden as a youngster, a lawn mower rear axle and then made a frame and front axle from steel tubing.
Patrick Prom has become well-known for his accurate scale models, exhibiting them at the Minnesota State Fair and several other shows. But his first one, a one-third scale John Deere unstyled model D, usually sits on his lawn with flowers in it. Patrick's second model - a five-eighths scale Waterloo Boy - is also used as an ornament. Patrick, who lives in Eden Prairie, Minn., has sold some of his production, including an IH model WD half-scale which went for about $5,000. "I make the tractors by taking a small engine and building around it," he says. "On the Deeres, I use single-cylinder engines, mounting them crosswise, showing the flywheel and belt pulley running. On the IH, I used a Datsun car engine and an IH Cub Cadet rear end. I make all the front axles to look just like the real ones. I make the hoods, fenders and frames, also."