Half-Scale Tractor Replicas

Clint Russell's hand-built half-scale tractors dead ringers for the real thing.

| June 2007

Anybody can think big. The trick is in thinking small. It's a distinction Clint Russell understands. Clint designs and handcrafts richly detailed tractor reproductions … in half-scale. His scale model creations include a Rumely OilPull Model M, an Allis-Chalmers WC, a Little Bull, a John Deere D, a Waterloo Boy, a Dain, an International Titan 10-20, a Froehlich, a 10-20 Mogul, a Farmall F-20, a Hart-Parr 18-36 and a Massey-Harris 101, as well as a few implements.

Clint's been building half-scale tractor reproductions for 20 years at his home in Apopka, Fla. Before that, he collected gas engines until it became a chore to haul them to shows. "I decided I was going to build something that runs on its own," he recalls, "and my shop was too small for regular tractors." For years he kicked around the idea of building a small-scale tractor. When he retired, he tackled his first project: an International 10-20 Titan.

"That first one was a learning experience," he says, shaking his head. "It had old truck tires for the rear and boat tires on the front. It was an ugly thing, and pretty crude, but it worked." It did more than that: It also lit a fire. "The main thing was I determined that I wanted to do better," he says.

Each half-scale tractor begins as a puzzle in Clint's mind. "On some of these tractors, I mulled over the possibilities for years before figuring out how to build them," he says. He builds one tractor at a time, but his mind is always multi-tasking. "The engine for the John Deere D sat in my shop for four or five years," he says. "Then I got the transaxle from a combine salvage yard, and it lay in the shop for two or three years. All that time, I was thinking about how I would build that tractor. Having the components in the shop is a constant reminder."

The key to the puzzle is Clint's capacity for structural visualization. "To some extent, I guess I do the engineering in my mind, without blueprints," he says. "It's just something I can do. Some people can do it; some can't. It's like thinking in scale. A lot of people don't realize what half-scale is. I had to do a lot of thinking about that. It took me a while to understand it, and I didn't, really, until I started drawing plans and sketches."

For the Rumely, Clint began by determining the wheelbase and engine, and making extensive measurements of a full-size tractor. He made a sketch of the engine to scale, then superimposed the engine sketch onto a sketch of the chassis, centering the flywheel correctly. "That was a big aid in getting the correct perspective," he says, "but it doesn't work for every project."