Sold on Allis: Indiana Man Builds His Life Around Allis-Chalmers Line

Harry Dubach lives, eats and breathes Allis-Chalmers tractors

| December 2009

  • Harry Dubach with his scale model 4W-305 and a full-size 4W-305
    Harry Dubach with his scale model and the real deal: a pair of 4W-305s.
    Don Voelker
  • Harry Dubach's scale model 4W-305 and a full-size 4W-305
    Harry Dubach's scale model 4W-305 and a full-size 4W-305.
    Don Voelker
  • A fine trio of WD-45 Series tractors
    A fine trio of WD-45 Series tractors. From left: a 1955 WD-45 LP/gasoline (the only dual-fuel tractor produced at that time), 1956 WD-45 gasoline and 1955 WD-45 diesel. The WD-45 series was produced from 1955 to 1957.
    Don Voelker
  • 1937 Allis-Chalmers Model WF with a steel-wheel plow dating to the 1930s
    Harry’s 1937 Allis-Chalmers Model WF with a steel-wheel plow dating to the 1930s. No. 24, it is the 20th Allis WF built. “I won’t say there isn’t an older one (of this model) around,” Harry says, “but it’s not likely.”
    Don Voelker
  • A 1955 WD-45 LP/gasoline
    A 1955 WD-45 LP/gasoline (the only dual-fuel tractor produced at that time).
    Don Voelker
  • Harry Dubach is shown here with the half-scale Allis-Chalmers D-21 Jim built from wood in front of Harry’s 1968 Allis D-21
    Harry’s brother Jim also has a knack for models. Harry is shown here with the 1/2-scale Allis-Chalmers D-21 Jim built from wood in front of Harry’s 1968 Allis D-21.
    Don Voelker
  • An Allis-Chalmers industrial I-400
    An Allis-Chalmers industrial I-400. With two exceptions this is the same tractor as the Allis D-10 (the industrial model has a heavy, wrap-around grille and a solid front axle). The I-400 was produced from 1966 through 1968; 545 were built. Harry sold this specific tractor at his dealership; 40 years later he has it back. Equipped with 3-point hitch and high and low range, it’s used as a mowing tractor.
    Don Voelker
  • This quarter-scale 4W-305 features a 12 hp Kohler engine and two International Cub Cadet hydrostat rear ends
    Harry’s 1/4-scale 4W-305 features a 12 hp Kohler engine and two International Cub Cadet hydrostat rear ends.
    Don Voelker
  • A half-scale Allis-Chalmers Model G
    This 1/2-scale Model G was Harry’s second “small” project. Harry added a piece of 4-by-4 lumber to the foot hydrostat so his 6-year-old grandson, Brady, could reach the pedal.
    Don Voelker
  • A 1984 Allis-Chalmers 4W-305 owned by Brad Osterholt on the Tom and Emily Osterholt farm
    A 1984 Allis-Chalmers 4W-305 owned by Brad Osterholt on the Tom and Emily Osterholt farm near Portland, Ind. The 4W-305 was produced from 1982 to 1985. Just 412 were built.
    Don Voelker
  • The only Allis-Chalmers fuel cell tractor, built and tested in 1959
    The only Allis-Chalmers fuel cell tractor, built and tested in 1959. The tractor’s 20 hp electric engine was powered by 1,003 fuel cells. The tractor is now part of the Smithsonian collection.
    courtesy Harry Dubach
  • A quarter-scale Allis-Chalmers 4W-305, an electric Model 9815 pedal tractor with grandson Brady at the wheel and a half-scale Model G
    Harry’s home-built triple threat (from left): A 1/4-scale 4W-305, an electric Model 9815 pedal tractor with grandson Brady at the wheel and a 1/2-scale Model G.
    Don Voelker
  • Harry Dubach’s hand-drawn plan for his quarter-scale 4W-305
    Harry’s hand-drawn plan for his 1/4-scale 4W-305.
    Harry Dubach

  • Harry Dubach with his scale model 4W-305 and a full-size 4W-305
  • Harry Dubach's scale model 4W-305 and a full-size 4W-305
  • A fine trio of WD-45 Series tractors
  • 1937 Allis-Chalmers Model WF with a steel-wheel plow dating to the 1930s
  • A 1955 WD-45 LP/gasoline
  • Harry Dubach is shown here with the half-scale Allis-Chalmers D-21 Jim built from wood in front of Harry’s 1968 Allis D-21
  • An Allis-Chalmers industrial I-400
  • This quarter-scale 4W-305 features a 12 hp Kohler engine and two International Cub Cadet hydrostat rear ends
  • A half-scale Allis-Chalmers Model G
  • A 1984 Allis-Chalmers 4W-305 owned by Brad Osterholt on the Tom and Emily Osterholt farm
  • The only Allis-Chalmers fuel cell tractor, built and tested in 1959
  • A quarter-scale Allis-Chalmers 4W-305, an electric Model 9815 pedal tractor with grandson Brady at the wheel and a half-scale Model G
  • Harry Dubach’s hand-drawn plan for his quarter-scale 4W-305

Harry Dubach lives, eats and breathes Allis-Chalmers tractors.

He was raised around the Allis line, built a career around it, and now in retirement, finds no shortage of Allis projects to take on, ranging from hand-built scale models to restorations.

“I grew up around Allis-Chalmers, my dad had Allis-Chalmers and my two brothers had Allis-Chalmers,” he says. “It was just kind of a natural thing.” After graduating from high school in 1962, he began work as a mechanic at the local Allis dealership, Affolder Implement Sales. As the years passed, Harry’s role in the business grew; by the time he retired in 1999, he was co-owner.

Maintenance is a major focus these days. “I’m doing more repairs now,” he says, “and not so much collecting.” But Harry doesn’t think of it as work. “It’s a joy to work on these tractors,” he says. He tackles paint jobs in the summer (he has a white barn, and wants it to stay white) and does mechanical work as needed. Diesel tractors are a particular favorite. “I was a diesel mechanic,” he explains. “I grew up with diesels and love them to death. I’ve overhauled those engines and know them inside and out.”

Gearing up for the Gathering

The 25th anniversary of the Gathering of the Orange (an annual all-Allis event) in 2008 caused a flurry of activity in Harry’s shop. Harry gave new paint jobs to three tractors before taking them to the show, which was held at nearby Portland, Ind., during the Tri-State Gas Engine & Tractor Show.

He also organized a 20-mile tractor drive from his home to the Gathering at Portland. Early on the show’s opening day, more than 60 Allis-Chalmers tractors from Michigan and Indiana assembled at his home in Berne, Ind. The group then paraded to Portland, earning Harry the title “Pied Piper of Tractors” in an article published in the Fort Wayne (Ind.) Journal Gazette.

It was not Harry’s first Gathering of the Orange parade. In 2005, he and his brother Jim hauled Harry’s 1937 Allis-Chalmers Model WF 300 miles to the Gathering of the Orange Homecoming in Milwaukee, Wis. On their arrival at the show grounds, they joined in a parade of more than 200 tractors to an original Allis factory located nearby. As the tractors passed through the building, a professional photographer took individual photos of each tractor and driver. “That was very special,” Harry says. “When I had the dealership, I went there to pick up tractors.”



The WF was a good match for the event. The first tractor Harry restored in retirement, it was also his oldest tractor and a model that was never sold in Indiana. “It was built in Indiana, but it was considered a western tractor back in the 1930s,” he says. When Harry found a pair of WFs in California, he bought one for himself and one for a friend. Harry’s tractor – a basket case – had been abandoned for 17 years and the engine was stuck. “It took a lot of work but now it runs great,” he says.

Subsequent restoration projects included a 1938 Allis Model B and a trio of WD-45s: an LP/gasoline, one gasoline and one diesel. “A lot of people have the gas tractor and some have diesels,” Harry says. “Rarer yet is the dual-fuel WD-45. I just feel lucky to have the three of them.”



SUBSCRIBE TO FARM COLLECTOR TODAY!

Farm Collector April 16Farm Collector is a monthly magazine focusing on antique tractors and all kinds of antique farm equipment. If it's old and from the farm, we're interested in it!

Save Even More Money with our SQUARE-DEAL Plan!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our SQUARE-DEAL automatic renewal savings plan. You'll get 12 issues of Farm Collector for only $29.95 (USA only).

Or, Bill Me Later and send me one year of Farm Collector for just $34.95.




Facebook Pinterest YouTube

Classifieds