Tackling That First Tractor Restoration Project: An Allis-Chalmers C

Collector takes on his first tractor restoration project, a tired Allis-Chalmers C

| August 2012

This is my 1941 Allis-Chalmers C. When I bought it three years ago, the engine was rusted solid and in very bad condition. This was my first tractor restoration; I never dreamed it would be such a big project.

When I started tearing it apart, I didn’t know rusty parts could be such a problem. Everything I tore apart was stuck, so I broke off most of the small nuts and bolts. The back tires and wheels were rusted together. I ruined one wheel just getting the tire off and the other wheel turned out to be in very poor condition. Right off the bat I had to order new wheels and tires, and they weren’t cheap.

Then I tore the engine apart; boy was it a mess. The pistons were rusted into the sleeves. I tried every formula that I could find on the Internet to free the rust; none of them worked. After about three months, I tore the engine apart. I ordered new pistons and sleeves and all the gaskets to rebuild the engine and I had the head rebuilt. After I got all the parts I needed and put it back together, the engine ran. Then I started on the bodywork. I sandblasted most of the parts and used a wire brush on the rest. I burned up two 4-1/2-inch grinders and went through a lot of wire cups.

Most of the smaller parts (hood, fenders, air cleaner, grille and seat frame) were painted as I went along. I removed the front wheels and tires, took the tires off the wheels and painted the wheels. The tires weren’t much good so I put on new tires. That’s when I discovered the front yoke was shot. I got a good used one and replaced the bearings in it. It turned out just great.

Then the tractor was down to just the frame and engine. When I painted them, the fun began: I got to put it all back together. I enjoyed this part the most. With all the newly painted parts put back on the tractor it started to look better and better. I made many trips to the hardware store getting new bolts and nuts. When I put on new decals that really made it look great.

Then came the big day I got to drive it, after a year and a half of work and many new parts. During the time I was restoring the tractor, I joined the Inland Empire Steam & Gas Buffs. Joining the tractor club was a very good thing; I was able to ask all the old tractor buffs many questions, like where to get things done and what parts to use.