1902 16 HP Advance restoration

| January/February 1993

Here are some photos of an Advance thresher steam tractor that my good friend Mike Shanley and I have restored.

It is owned and kept at our local museum in Vista, Calif. This is a 16 HP tractor no. 6744; it was built in Battle Creek, Michigan, in 1902.

We started this project in December of 1989, and with a good deal of help from other club members and a little over 1,000 hours of work, we were able to steam the tractor again in December of 1991, almost exactly two years later.

Assessing the tractor

The boiler and cylinder were in good shape from the start. The flues had been replaced a few years ago by the man we bought the tractor from. Our work was all in the repairing of cracked gears and re-babbitting all of the larger bearings. We knew the bearings were bad, but wow! There was a gap between the cross shaft and its bearing large enough to slide a Bic pen into! The main shaft bearings weren’t as bad, but had to be done as well.

Then there were broken and cracked gears and a crack in the casting for the flywheel support bracket. The intermediate gear and stub axle had to be bored and sleeved to get a good fit again, and then we found a crack on the inside bevel gear that went from the keyway all the way out to the rim! Add to this the usual complement of broken or missing small parts, some piping that needed to be replaced, the paint job, and that’s about what we had to do.

Beginning with the boiler

We started by removing most everything from the boiler we could, including the stub-axle casting and the flywheel support bracket casting. These two needed work that could not be done while on the tractor. These parts together had 15 bolts going through their castings and into the boiler shell.

The bolts proved to be quite a job to get out, and we broke a good make of a 1” open-end wrench in the process, so when we were done the bolts were not in real good shape. Luckily, a club member machinist volunteered to make us up some new ones with square heads and all, to replace the now bad ones. The threads in the boiler shell took a beating too, and later getting these all to seal up under pressure was a job in itself.