Thirteen a Lucky Number for Rumely OilPull Collector

Illinois farmer concentrates on Rumely OilPull

| May 1999

Not being a superstitious man, Ron Miller thinks “13” is a lucky number indeed. The Geneseo, Ill., farmer considers himself fortunate to own 13 Rumely OilPull tractors. The tractors are behemoths, usually weighing several thousand pounds.

Ron, 66, bought his first Rumely OilPull, a 1923 model, in 1958. He started restoring it right away, spending a couple of years on the project.

Ron’s Rumelys were made in LaPorte, Ind., and were designed to use oil instead of water in the radiators, and to run on a mixture of kerosene and water. The Rumely business originated when German immigrant Meinrad Rumely established a blacksmith business in the 1850s. The shop later grew into a farm equipment manufacturing business that specialized in threshing machines. The company’s first tractor was produced in 1910. Due to financial problems, the Rumely family lost control of the company five years later, and it was reorganized as the Advance-Rumely Thresher Co. In 1931, Advance-Rumely merged with the Allis-Chalmers Co.

Birth of a collection

The idea of owning an old tractor appealed to Ron because of the tractors his father had used when he threshed grain for neighbors. Ron was looking for any kind of antique tractor when a friend told him about a Rumely OilPull. Since then, Ron has focused on that brand. That decision, he said, has made it easier to keep the size of his tractor collection under control.

Two or three years after he bought his first tractor, he located another one. And he has picked up others through the years.

“Sometimes I won’t get one for four or five years,” he said, “and then I’ll get a couple. Rumely tractors are not readily available.” He made his most recent purchase eight years ago.