Building Half-Size Tractors

| October 2001

Engine collector Clint Russell was bored. He had had some fun building his collection of engines, restoring them meticulously, but, once completed, 'just seeing them set there and run' got old fast, Clint says. He thought about expanding his collection to include tractors, but, at his home in Apopka, Fla., there was simply no room for them. So Clint Russell decided to combine his love for old tractors and old engines and build half-size antique tractors.

'I was only going to make one,' Clint remembers, 'but I wasn't completely happy with the first one, so I decided I would do better on the next one.' Now working on his tenth, Clint's getting better each time.

That first tractor was a Rumely Oil-Pull M. He'd always been fascinated with that tractor as a child growing up on an Indiana farm and, once he'd decided to build a small tractor, he knew that was the one he wanted to make. Interestingly, he had no Rumely from which to work. 'The Rumely I built entirely from pictures,' he says. 'Preferably, I like to take measurements directly from a tractor. I think a lot of the problems I had with the first one were because I didn't take the measurements from a tractor.'

Being an engine lover, Clint started there. He wanted to make sure that the engine he chose for the project was going to be right with the tractor he had planned. 'I took a picture of the Oil-Pull from the side and then found an engine that, when I centered the flywheel on the flywheel of the tractor, it would match up and keep the proportions right.'

Then the research began. For the Oil-Pull, as for every tractor since, Clint gathered a loose-leaf notebook full of research materials. These notebooks begin filling up a year before he ever starts actually building the tractor.

After the Oil-Pull, Clint just began moving on to tractors that 'somebody might mention that they had used as a kid.' If he really liked the look of a tractor or had found an engine for it that he liked, he would build it. In the case of the Allis-Chalmers WC he built, he had just wanted to have an Allis ready for when Florida Flywheelers - a club of which he's a member - hosted the annual Gathering of the Orange Allis-Chalmers convention. He looked for good, challenging projects and found plenty.