One September, I volunteered to help my wife and other members of the local Gleaners group. Our mission was to pick leftover sweet corn for donation to a food pantry. A group of a few women, teenagers and small children gathered on a rainy Saturday morning. I knew they could use my help with dragging sacks of corn to a central point where it would be picked up later that day.
When we arrived at the farm, I immediately noticed an unusual, homemade Allis-Chalmers high-crop tractor. After checking it out, I learned it had been built to spray sweet corn for earworms. Since my son and I collect antique tractors, it was particularly interesting to me. It appeared that the tractor had not been used for many years. We went about our business, picking sweet corn, but all the while my mind was on how to contact the tractor’s owner.
I made a few phone calls and found the owner. He’d built the one-of-a-kind AC Model C years ago for about $1,500. At that time, he said, a new John Deere high-crop would have cost about $8,000. Recently, he’d considered selling the tractor to the scrap yard but it would have cost him $65 to have it hauled away. When I offered him $300, he was happy, knowing the tractor would be kept from the scrap pile.
When my son, Greg, and I went to get the tractor, we took some gas, a can of ether and a 12-volt battery. In less than 10 minutes, we had the tractor running and out of the shed. The former owner was surprised and so was I; he said the tractor hadn’t been started in 10 years.
He explained how he had built the frame over the driver (an early version of ROPS, or roll-over protection) to keep the axle housings from breaking. He put a pump on the PTO to run the sprayer. It has a 250-gallon tank and a 32-foot boom span. He used Farmall 11x38-inch rims for the rear wheels. The tractor stands 10 feet tall at its highest point.
I have to thank my wife for finding me this “toy.” Had I not volunteered to help her pick sweet corn, I might never have known about this unusual machine. And I must thank my son for his time and mechanical knowledge. He’s been my best mechanic since he was 14 years old. The old tractors and engines have kept us close for many years. FC
For more information, email Wayne at email@example.com.