PAL Tractor Beats the Odds

Rare PAL tractor escapes the scrap heap

| October 1999

Farming leads perhaps all other industries in applying good old American ingenuity to the challenge at hand. The PAL tractor is a classic example. Manufactured for no more than two or three years in the late 1930s, the PAL tractor was created with readily available parts. 

"They'd use a used car engine to build a tractor at a time when you couldn't get anything else," says Kenny Braesch, Marathon, Iowa. "They could take a car engine, motor, transmission and rear end, put it in a frame, and you'd have a tractor in a day. You supply a car, and they'd make a tractor."

The advent of World War II, however, derailed the undertaking. And in the post-war years, competition from mass-produced, streamlined tractors would have been overwhelming.

"During the war, even the little factories – if they were equipped at all – were converted to war use," Kenny says. "But even if there hadn't been a war, I don't think they would have succeeded: (the company) was too little."

Kenny has a vested interest in the PAL tractor: he has restored one of  the two known to exist. The word "rare" gets thrown around a lot these days, but his tractor fits the description.

"They started late, in 1935 or '36. By '38, they had 12 or 15 ready to sell," he says, "and then the war caught them. I have located 12 PALs, and 10 of those have been scrapped. There's one other one, also restored, and it's in Michigan."