This story starts when I was about 10 in the early 60’s , when my brother and I discovered an old tractor behind a shed in weeds and trees at my uncle’s farm. It turned out to be an Allis Chalmers model A of my uncle’s.
We learned much later that he bought the A in the early 40’s, possibly to help out someone who needed money. My dad and uncle Elery, dad’s brother, used it to do custom combining for years until it was retired behind the shed. In the mid 80’s, dad and Elery pulled it out and took it to Elery’s shop to restore, but due to other projects and health issues, it never got done. Dad died in 2001 and uncle Elery in 2004.
At Elery’s estate sale in 2005 my brother Dan, and nephew James and I bought the A and began a 3 year rebuild. It was completely disassembled, every nut and bolt, and a complete rebuild was under way. The crankshaft was worn so bad it had to be welded and reground. New valves and valve seats were installed in the heads. New sleeves were installed but the original cast iron pistons were reused. The only work farmed out was the machine work and fabricating a new hood. Everything else the three of us did, including painting by James. New tires and rims were added to finish it off. We decided to keep it original with hand crank start instead of adding electric start, which was optional when it was built.
In the spring of 2008, as we were getting close to ready to run, Dan was diagnosed with a brain tumor. The A was put on hold for a while. By mid summer his condition was getting worse. We knew we had to get it running soon. It was running the last week of July and Dan drove it twice, the day it first ran and again the first week of August at the Carroll county fair tractor parade. Dan passed away September 6, 2008. The A was part of the funeral by running in the background at the cemetery.
James and I enjoy showing the A in memory of Uncle Elery and Dan. It has gone to Hutchinson Minnesota, Grinnell Iowa, the Antique Engine and Tractor Show in Geneseo Illinois, and the gathering of the Orange centennial held in 2014 at LaPorte Indiana, as well as many local shows. Our family owns 12 Allis tractors and a few Olivers and Fords.
If you would like to submit a story with photo(s) about an experience with your tractor, interesting facts about its history, or a restoration project, please go to Tractor Story Submissions. If your story is picked to appear on the blog you will receive a FREE Steiner hat. Some stories will also go on to be published in our quarterly magazine. We look forward to hearing your story!