Rumely 6A Restoration

Family heirloom Rumely 6A takes a winding path to restoration

| June 2011

In 1933, my father-in-law, Frank Ruddell, bought a new Rumely 6A tractor in Toronto. Frank farmed near Georgetown, Ontario. He was replacing a Rumely 2-cylinder tractor, a 20-30W. A deal was soon made and Frank undertook to drive the new tractor home, a distance of about 40 miles. It took all day. The spades and front rims would be applied at home on the farm. 

Frank had 100 acres at home and rented land around the country. He did a lot of custom work as well, about 100 days a year, threshing all day and plowing all night. The 6A gave good service and never had a major breakdown. When it was time to replace it, Frank chose a Minneapolis-Moline Model G. In 1942, the Rumely was shipped by rail to Iron Bridge, Ontario. Frank never saw the tractor again.

Finding the Rumely

Years later, I thought it would be good to have my father-in-law’s tractor. Auctioneers know where everything is in the country, so at the next auctioneers convention I asked the local auctioneer, Vern Bailey, if he knew anything about the Rumely. He said he’d look. At the convention the following year, he said he’d located the tractor at Bruce Mines, a town located on the north shore of Lake Huron west of Thessalon.

The next year when we headed west to see some shows, we went to Bruce Mines and sure enough: On a rock pile behind a building was the Rumely 6A. It was a sad looking sight and we should have walked away, but seeing as it was Grandpa’s tractor we had to take it home and try. We found the man in charge and bought the tractor for $1. That would turn out to be the most expensive dollar I ever spent.

When we got the tractor loaded we went to a nearby sawmill where the Rumely had been used for years after my father-in-law sold it. I said to the proprietor, Earl Brock, “Now when that tractor came up here it would have had two sets of wheels: a rubber set on it and steel set with it.” He said, “You’re right.” I asked what happened to the other set of wheels. He said they were out under a tree. “If you want them,” he said, “go get them.” We found the wheels all right, but there were only three: two rears and one front. What happened to the other front wheel? He couldn’t remember.

Earl later remembered what happened to the missing wheel. They’d had a horse that would jump the fence. If they tied the horse to the wheel he would drag it all over the farm, but he couldn’t jump the fence with it. “So wherever we untied the horse off the wheel the last time,” he said, “that is where the wheel is.”