2404 Quincy St., Rock ford, Ill.
When I had a closing out sale on December 7, 1962 and discontinued my farming operations, previous to moving to Rockford, Illinois, to enter the industrial field, it ended a long and interesting era of 46 years for my father, L. W. Huff.
One of the tractors sold that day, a 1937 Allis-Chalmers W.C., was the last tractor Dad owned, his sixth one, during his farming years.
Although Dad had operated a 16 HP Nichols and Shepard steam engine during his early manhood his 46 years of gas tractor experience began in 1916 when he was about 24 years of age. My grandfather had purchased a new LaCrosse 'Happy Farmer' 12-24 kerosene burning tractor and 3-14 John Deere plow from the Ditmers-Kerr Implement Company of West Liberty, Iowa and put this outfit to work on his Louise County, Iowa farm southeast of Grandview. This was one ' of the first gas tractors in that part ' of Louise County.
One joke about the 'Happy Farmer' name is that it was so called because the farmer was happy until he got it. This tractor is no doubt familiar to many older readers of the Album. It was built by the LaCrosse Tractor Company of LaCrosse, Wis., (now part of the Allis-Chalmers lineup). Nomenclature of this 1916 LaCrosse tractor as follows; The engine was a twin cylinder, four cycle. Cylinders side by side, power impulse similar to the principle used in the John Deere D's and all later two cylinder models. One power stroke followed another, then two strokes between the next power stroke.
Will insert here a humorous comment about John Deere's as stated by one of our neighbors many years ago. 'The John Deeres always sounded to me like a double barreled shotgun.'
The LaCrosse's chassis was of three wheel design; one front guide wheel on the right side and two rear drive wheels, approximately 56 inches high and 10 inches wide with two rows of spade lugs. The inside of each drive wheel rim contained a row of cogs running into a pinion gear. Each pinion had rollers instead of cogs. Running in the open these required yearly replacing. The main frame was of malleable cast construction and a notable feature was a six inch hollow tube going forward to which was fastened a high cast arch that carried the front wheel. A unique feature was that the engine exhaust was piped into this tube; thus, a very efficient muffler. A noteworthy feature about the front wheel; that it followed the furrow in plowing and a slight turn to the left caused it to follow the straight side of the furrow. The steering gear was a worm and sector on top of shaft, similar to that of the Farmall F-20, only open. This tractor was years ahead of its time in that it had right and left brakes.
The crankshaft was placed crosswise above and forward of the rear axle, cylinder head forward. The lubrication system was a Madison-Kipp six feed oil pump. The oil was carried through six topper tubes as follows a tube to each main crankshaft bearing, each converting rod bearing and each cylinder. The pump was run by a cam and ratchet similar to the ones on steam traction engines. Thus the cylinders and bearings received fresh oil constantly. Eventually the oil after being used, found its way to the bottom of the crankcase through the bearings and cylinders. The crankcase had two overflow pipes to pipe the oil from there to where it dripped on the right and left drive pinions.
The ignition system was the Atwater-Kent. Electricity was from four 6 inch telephone batteries. Design was such that the batteries lasted a long time due to short period of contact by points. The distributor and point system caused considerable trouble, points required smoothing and adjusting two or three times a week.
The engine was water cooled. The radiator and fan were in front on the tube leading forward to the front wheel assembly. Fan was driven by a flat belt.
The clutch was contracting band in flywheel, hand operated. The transmission was sliding gear, one gear forward and one reverse. The belt pulley was on the left side on end of clutch and pinion shaft belted backwards.
This tractor was used for plowing feed grinding, shredding corn, silo filling and corn shelling. Its weight was 3800 lbs. It pulled three 14' plows, though as it got older and and showed less power, Dad removed a bottom when plowing heavy sod on one occasion or another. Like many early tractors it was hard to steer and handle and due to open gears and other specifications it was not too long lived.