Something for Nothing: A Homemade Tractor

'Pharmall Phoenix' satisfies need for homemade tractor.

| September 2005

After I had collected and restored six Farmall F-12 row crop tractors, I decided a change of pace was in order. I set my sights on owning and restoring an International I-12. A trip to an auction proved fruitless: Bidding started at $3,300 on "my" tractor. I went home with an empty trailer.

Finances dictated that the only way I could have an I-12 was to build it myself. A friend, Bernie Smith, was in the process of restoring his own I-12. He provided me with measurements of his I-12, as well as the transmission and side rails of a picked-over "boneyard" F-12 he had parted out.

I cut a 9-inch section from the side rails and "stacked" the rails to lower the rear of the tractor 8 inches. That allowed me to use smaller rear tires. The drawbar was turned upside-down to return the hitch to the proper height. The steering post was salvaged from a Farmall F-14 and is reversed to give the proper angle up to the steering bolster. Eighteen inches was cut from the steering rod.

The wide front end was salvaged from a 1940 Ford automobile and was cut down to fit the short tractor. The rear tires and wheels are from a semi truck with F-12 hubs welded to the semi rims. The fenders are from a 48-inch culvert connection, and the engine is a 16 hp Kohler mounted on a hinged steel plate. The seat is from a Cub Cadet. The hand clutch lever operates a cam that was cut to give the needed lift to engage the V-belt drive.

After completing the Industrial "Pharmall Phoenix," I decided a row crop version was begging to be built. The row crop tractor was much easier to fabricate. Much of the same technology used on the I-12, plus another boneyard tractor (courtesy of Bernie Smith), made the assembly straightforward. The seat on the row crop is from an F-20 and the fenders were traced from Farmall C fenders and made from diamond plate. The rear wheels are standard 24-inch tractor tires. The front wheel is an F-12 single front with an 8-ply implement tire.

Neither of these tractors are toys. The Industrial is used to roll my lawn and pull the fertilizer spreader, and on other jobs when I want to be careful not to mar the lawn. I recently used the row crop tractor to pull a walnut log 12 feet long and 26 inches in diameter. The Phoenix row crop is my first choice when I have a job that requires a tractor.