Group Effort: Another Old Tractor Shines Like New

Club members resurrect an old tractor from the its skeletal remains.


| July 2006



Discarded decades ago in the woods northeast of North Adams, Mich., the 1919 Allis-Chalmers Model 6-12 General Purpose tractor was just something for little boys to play on. But last year, the old tractor shone like new again when members of the Center Adams Power and Equipment Club drove the smartly restored tractor in the North Adams Heritage Days Parade.

Club member Bernal Tolan, Hillsdale, Mich., had known about the tractor for 20 years. The tractor had a face only a mother could love. "It looked like a piece of junk to me and everyone else," he recalls, describing the 6-12. But in 2002, he finally convinced the landowner to part with it. After Bernal's relatives and neighbors hauled the unidentified skeleton out of the woods, they called another club member, Dave Boardman, Osseo, Mich. He brought by an Allis-Chalmers book and identified the tractor as a 6-12. Club members decided to make it a project, and the work began. This time it was big boys playing on the tractor.

Restored from top to bottom

Virtually every part of the tractor cried out for restoration. Everything that wasn't missing or rotten was frozen. "The wheels and steering wheel would not turn," Dave recalls. "None of the levers would move. The bottoms of the wheels were rotted off. There was no sulky, radiator, governor, carburetor or gas tank cap."

Brothers Jim and Dick Anspaugh pulled the front wheel and axle assembly out of the housing. They built a fire inside a hollow log and set the wheels over it. Once it was hot enough, they used a sledgehammer to drive the axles out of the wheels.

The front wheels were the most perplexing part of the project. New bushings and pins were built for the drive axle. But after putting the axles and wheels on the tractor, the drive sprocket wasn't true. The crew then took out a section of the drive sprocket and drilled the holes larger where the sprocket mounted on the wheels. This enabled the drive sprocket to slide back, and stopped the wheel from binding on the axle as it turned.

The 6-12 had grease cups instead of grease zerks for oil and grease points, but they were rotted off. Dave tapped out the holes where the grease cups went in, and used pipe to make new standpipes. Using a valve stem from a portable air tank, Dave filled the standpipes with WD-40, then forced it through with air pressure. After a week or so, it started moving.