A Varied Trio of Old Tractors

A retired mechanic boasts a set of old tractors comprised of American, French and British machines.

| June 2015

Tony Jones of North Wales is a pleasant person to visit. Not only is he easy company – someone you can chew the fat with for hours, oblivious to time sailing by – he also has a fascinating set of three very different tractors. It’s a neat and varied collection of tractors: One is of American origin, one hails from over the channel in France and one is totally British.

Whilst Tony’s Allis-Chalmers D272 is American in name, she was actually built at the Allis factory in Essendine, Lincolnshire, here in the U.K. Does this make her British? I don’t think so. To me, all Allis tractors are American, regardless of where they were built.

Tony’s Allis D272 is a bit of a curiosity. She appears to date to 1961 – the casting date on the gearbox certainly reads “21.12.61” – indicating that the tractor might have been assembled as late as 1962. However, as Tony points out, most authorities suggest production of this particular model ceased in 1960, so the date on the gearbox is something of a mystery. Nothing is ever straightforward, it seems. There are always tractors that don’t fit in with what the books have to say.

Tractor with local ties

Tony, a retired mechanic, hadn’t gone looking for an Allis-Chalmers, but she was interesting in that she was a bit different from the Massey Fergusons, Fordson Majors and Fergusons we regularly see in our shows. What clinched the deal for Tony was that this Allis had a connection to the part of North Wales where he lives.

“It is an unusual tractor in that it was clearly one of the last ones made,” he says, “but the real reason I wanted it was because it has something of a local history.” The tractor was used for most of its life as a grounds tractor at Howell’s School, a private school for girls in Denbigh, North Wales.

The Allis was bought new for use at the school, but it wasn’t road registered until a few years later, in 1971. Before that, the tractor had been used solely on the school’s grounds. In 1971, however, Howell’s School acquired land separate from the main campus, requiring the tractor to be road legal. The Allis has a Perkins 3-cylinder engine; these tractors were available either with a 4-cylinder petrol engine or with the Perkins diesel. Tony has left the original grass tires on the tractor, the same ones on it when it was used to mow and roll the school grounds and sports fields. These tires are part of its story as a groundskeeper’s tractor, and in any case tires don’t come cheap, so why not use what you already have?