Building a Hot Rod Tractor

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Terry Kroske's hot rod tractor wears Allis-Chalmers decals, but that's where the similarity ends.
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Not your father's Oldsmobile: Terry's customized vintage tractor draws a crowd when he displays it at local events.
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Customized straight pipes give Terry's Model C a sound all its own.
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The start of something big: The Allis-Chalmers Model C that launched Terry's hot rod project. When Terry began the project, the tractor's engine was stuck.
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The mower "as found" was in rough condition.
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The project really begins to come together once it advances to the paint shop.
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Detail of the mower's distinctive wheels.
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The restored John Deere No. 4 Big Enclosed Gear Mower on display, complete with the International tongue truck.

I recently finished restoring an Allis-Chalmers Model C. This is my second Model C; I also have a WD and a G. But on this project, I had some fun and made  this one my way. I used to have hot rods and neat cars – so I made a hot rod tractor.

I began with a 1948 Allis-Chalmers C, which was in bad condition with a stuck engine. As I started to sandblast parts and go through the engine, I knew I wanted this one to be different. I started by making an intake manifold with straight pipes and put a downdraft carburetor on it. I used a Volkswagen carburetor because I had one and it fit. Boy, it really sounds good with the headers. I had to use an electric fuel pump to get the fuel up to the carburetor. I made an aluminum hood that was smaller than the original hood so the carburetor would clear, and it looked a lot better. I used a K&N air filter.

I tried using the governor on the carburetor but that didn’t work very well, so now I have a throttle cable. That works a lot better (plus I can rev the engine to show off the headers). Of course I had to put on new tires. I went with a little bigger tire (11.2×24-inch on the rear) because I like the look of the larger tires.

Then I painted it black with orange trim. It was so much fun doing a tractor my way and my color. If you like to be different, you should try it! You may not want to use a rare tractor; you should probably use something more common, and do it your way. It’s quite a bit of fun, and people like to see something different.

When I showed the tractor at the fair, it drew a lot of attention. People really liked the black paint and the loud pipes. When I started it, people gathered around and asked questions. It was a great experience! FC

Road Ready: Restored John Deere sickle mower rounds out tractor collection

When I saw the John Deere No. 4 Big Enclosed Gear Mower, I had to have it – even if it was in really bad condition. It was found in the Green Bluff area just north of Spokane, Washington. I don’t know what it was used for with those rubber tires. All the sickle mowers I’ve ever seen had iron wheels. I was told that the mowers with rubber tires were used to mow along roads.

I started the project by disassembling the entire unit and sandblasting the parts. The tires were rotted, and one wheel had some rust around the air-fill hole. I repaired the wheel with fiberglass and body putty. At a salvage yard I found two used 21-inch tires with tubes. I also made a new grass board to go on the end of the cutter bar.

After all the sandblasting and wire brushing came the fun part: painting. I love that part because all the hard work starts to come together and the finished project finally starts to look a whole lot better.

After I installed a new 4- by 4-inch tongue, I found out that it was quite heavy and hard to move. Then I found a tongue truck. It goes on the tongue and takes the weight off the horses; what a great idea that was! The one I found was an International A753. Now I am able to move the mower around with ease.

I have restored a few tractors and this was a pleasant change because it didn’t take as long as a tractor. But now that it is finished, I have no idea what I am going to do with it. It will join a McCormick-Deering No. 7 sickle mower and a McCormick Big 6 sickle mower in my collection.

For more information:

— Terry Kroske, 11122 E. Alki, Spokane Valley, WA 99206; phone (509) 924-6994; email:

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