PAL Tractor Beats the Odds

Rare PAL tractor escapes the scrap heap

| October 1999

  • Just two PAL tractors are known to exist.
    Just two PAL tractors are known to exist. "I was really surprised to find one," says Kenny Braesch. Kenny's PAL had no name plate and no serial number. "It had to be one of the first runs," he says. "Most of them have gone to scrap."
  • Restoration nearly complete ...
    Restoration nearly complete ...
  • The PAL, as Kenny Braesch found it
    The PAL, as Kenny Braesch found it. "It was in bad, bad shape when I got it in 1988," he says. "It had sat out probably all it's life." After three years of restoration work, though, the tractor is almost better than new, and is a regular in parades and at shows. "It runs real good now," he says.
  • Kenny's PAL was crafted from two vehicles
    Kenny's PAL was crafted from two vehicles: "It has a Model A engine and transmission, and they tell me it's a Dodge truck rear end," he says. "It's a blacksmith's or machinist's tractor."
  • Original literature
    Original literature
  • This Thieman, which Kenny restored and later sold, is similar to the PAL
    This Thieman, which Kenny restored and later sold, is similar to the PAL. Built in Albert City, Iowa, it was produced during WWII as an alternative to horse farming. "It was a kit tractor," Kenny says. "As a kid, I remember watching one being built."

  • Just two PAL tractors are known to exist.
  • Restoration nearly complete ...
  • The PAL, as Kenny Braesch found it
  • Kenny's PAL was crafted from two vehicles
  • Original literature
  • This Thieman, which Kenny restored and later sold, is similar to the PAL

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."