PO Box 863 Farmerville, Louisiana 71241
We finally got into the BIG tractors for replacement of the old reliable steam power. In the late '20s and early '30s, townships often purchased tractors such as the Aultman-Taylor to be used in grading the roads. This old four-cylinder lay down gas powered engine with a slow rpm was John D. Rockefeller's friend, for efficiency definitely was not part of the program but it did have ample belt horsepower for the replacement of the older source, the steam engine. There were other reasons why this old iron horse was one of the brands selected for replacement of steam engines.
The challenger unit of steam had to be of similar horsepower, handling characteristics and traction ability to tow the separator from a threshing site to the next job of threshing, and it had to appeal to the owner or operator. The handling characteristics, steering for example, was by means of log chains as connecting links on the steering worm powered by a human being. Progress, yes, our pioneers were in some kind of hurry the internal combustion engine was here!
The agricultural world was open for new events, names, and progress was determined to force itself upon the horizon. Progress was the method the generation demanded.
For example, the original tractor provided a power train with two speeds: one forward and one reverse at a speed of travel of 1 miles per hour. Don't criticize. The steam engine did no better. But man being the impatient individual he is, devised an improvement in the travel speed by engineering a replacement gear change, which stepped the forward speed up to three miles an hour. Wonder what Ray Huron, winner of the first Indy Race, would have to say about that!
Well as you may realize, when we were faced with procuring another rig for an up-coming large run of wheat and oats in our home area, we jumped at the opportunity and accepted the verbal contract. Now off to find a suitable thresher and power unit.
Our investigation first provided a 36 x 64 Minneapolis steel thresher that was primarily ready to use with minimal usual preparation and it had a 16 foot feeder table which was just fine. You old-timers must know how the young hell-bent for leather bundle-haulers would just break their back trying to slug a new rig, well, they could throw it on but they couldn't control the feeder governorha, ha! So it looked like the thresher part of the new team was about ready now with two parts of the triangle. We knew of a good separator man who was available, and a blower man came to us for employment, so the lone link to a good team was the power engineer, and of course, the power unit. What about the unit? We had to find a real horse for the belt.
Someone had told us of a township (adjacent) that had purchased a new crawler type tractor and the former wheel type tractors were now for sale. So, we investigated the rumor. They might be Aultman-Taylor wheel type tractors.
The newest tractor had the engine completely overhauled and the lugs on the rear wheels were badly worn from road work, but the second tractor was primarily a source of parts or salvage. The rear wheels and lugs were very usable. If we could buy both of the units, then the rear wheels could be interchanged. We decided to investigate and planned a trip only ten miles from home. We had to make the trip and check it out! Well, the story proved correct, and the operator-commissioner gave us every manner of cooperation in our search for the power horse. Yes, we had struck gold!
The new iron horse was all that we needed and the price was within budget, so we made a deal. The two units were purchased. One was the older type tractor with the square cooler radiator as pictured on page 3 of the May-June issue of the Iron Men Album of 1993, and the other had the tube type round radiator. However, the newer unit did have badly worn lugs on the drive wheels. The other tractor's wheels were good for many a trip, so no problem, take them both home and switch the wheels.
The Township had overhauled the engine but the tractor had not been put into service and the purchase of the new crawler became a reality to our benefit! Well, how about that an engine overhaul included, it seemed a terrific buy, now to move these monsters to home base. In those days you simply started them up and people drove a unit to the intended place of operation, but two? Well, help was cheap so two people simply made the trip. Shouldn't take over a good early, start (daybreak) and let's see, 1 miles an hour should be home by dark (no lights).
So when we filled up the front unit with gas (the one that had the rebuilt engine in it), we noticed that the under platform tank consumed approximately 100 gallons of gasoline, and mounted on the right fender was a supply tank used in bringing in supplementary fuel to the carburetor. Well, it must be all for some good purpose soon with the show! For a monster such as this we could justify high consumption but if she had the horses it had to be accepted. On with the old Navy maneuver, drive and tow, with the two tractors together. Albert used a device of his own to tie the towed tractor. A model T Ford was driven by either of us with supplies that might be needed. He and I were assigned personnel to transport them to our lots and shed the ten miles, on dirt roads.
The trip seemed to be only a simple two-day trip, more or less, but after running for approximately two hours the engine slowed and stopped. We theorized that with all the new surfaces in the engine rebuilding, that a 'burn-in' obviously was occurring. So, let her cool down, have a basket lunch, crank up again and away we go.
All is well again for a two-hour ride and then slow-slow-slower and a dead stop. We sit again! This pattern dogged us all the way home and two days became four days, but we finally entered the outskirts of the home town, our storage lot and shed for a rest for A.T.s, our new friends. We counseled with the hope that we knew what was the cause of the two-hour run in periods and theorized that when put into the harness (belt) for hard work threshing, all would be corrected and all will be happy.
The period preparing for the 'big run' was quite a pleasant time for we were going prepared for a hard run with 14 bundle racks, plenty of grain wagons, some trucks, primarily Model Ts and 28 Chevys and with an above average separator, top personnel at the tractor and separator; an energetic blower man, 16 foot feeder, 64' blower housing. Why don't we let them practice setting to add some showmanship for the new run. So we had them practice setting up, from pulling into the site and put the stop watch on them. They liked it and now we were ready to go.
The first day we pulled into the farm yard with an air of cool confidence and a bit of showmanship. We were the experts! We were ready to perform the professionals.
I will never forget this tractor man. He was the picture of confidence as he wheeled the old tractor through three staggered gates with the separator, without slowing the engine, at almost top speed and we breezed to the site selected for set-up. Now to get the belt on the separator man had the belt rolled out and the blower and weigher auger tube were in positionlet's go threshing!
We had our noon lunch early and then out to take the first loads of bundles, now waiting to pull into the feedergive them the high sign, wind her up!
Everything seemed in harmony for a sweet symphony, the rhythmic rise and fall of the straw racks, the whirl of the blower fan and the chuckle of the solid beat of the exhaust from the slow turning engine at last at work. The cock a doodle young bundle haulers were so busy keeping up with our high capacity they didn't have time to let their devil-may-care minds stray with non-productive activities the grain was dry, the yield was high, owners were all pleasant. There was little for us to do but 'politic' with happy talk. We were proud, for our plans had jelled. No problems, no worries, just tell a few cute stories, enjoy sweet success and soon go on to the next rig for further supervision.
WHOA! Better check with the tractor engineer before leaving as to how the engine is behaving. Is it okay? He had a little problem the tractor started coughing and the transfer pump had to be used to keep it running. The music of the system almost stopped (should not have made the inquiry it heard us!) By some quirk of fate the engineer had pulled, out of the sack, an old trick to announce that after the racks were unloaded at the rig, they would shut down some event of a relative funeral or whatever, but it would happen shortly. We delayed leaving to see what was going on. When the racks were finished, the tractor man said to us, 'Something is not right with this engine. I have been feeding more fuel into this engine in order to prevent it from stopping for sometime. Something is blocking the fuel inlet.' So, we began removing fuel lines and blowing them and finally got to the carburetor, removed the float chamber to check the float setting. Maybe the float is not holding enough fuel in the float chamber for siphoning the fuel into the venturi. When the chamber was removed all was revealed. A little sparrow had built a nest in the float chamber and the float did not allow enough fuel to pass into the venturi tube!
We were delighted to find the trouble that had dogged us while learning about our new horse Ault-man-Taylor. Needless to say, we installed a make-shift screen on the air intake to prevent any further illegal entries into the carburetor intake.
A little sparrow had almost killed a giant!
Tweet-tweet-tweetsaid the little sparrow!