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"Half-Scale" Tractors Match Full-Scale Restorations
After he's done restoring a full-sized antique tractor, Gaylord De Jong of New Sharon, Iowa likes to build a half-sized model of the same tractor.
  He's done it two times already and is working on a third. He builds each one from scratch.
  De Jong's half-scale Allis WC is fashioned after a 1939 model and weighs nearly 350 lbs. It's powered by a 3.5 hp commercial Briggs and Stratton engine and the rest of the tractor "is pretty well all hand built."
  "I just enjoy doing this for myself it's a hobby," De Jong says. "Once I get the big one done, then I kind of have an idea of what I'm working on for the little one. I use the full-sized tractor as a guide while I'm working, so they're side-by-side and it's easier to see how you want it to be.
  "The little ones are more of a challenge to find parts that fit, and still make it look correct on the outside. You can scratch your head for a while before you come up with something that will work."
  He says it helps that his regular job is in a welding repair shop, so he has some specialized tools available.
  Although they're called "half-scale," the mini tractors are actually about 1/8 as big as the originals.
  They start with a pull rope like a lawn mower and have 3-speed transmissions, belt pulleys and operating pto's. De Jong makes the steering wheels himself and covers them in Plasti-dip.
  The mini's have fake gauges - he cut out pictures of water and amp gauges from magazines and then put clear coat on them.    "The generator and the starter don't work; they are shells, and the battery box is empty," according to De Jong. "I took the gears out of lawn mower transmissions, made cases for them, and put them in so they look like the original tractor's gearbox," he explains. "I fashion the frame and tin after the original tractor as close as possible. It's a lot of welding smaller pieces together and grinding them down smooth. Then I use Bondo to cover up my welds so you get a smooth finish."
  The little tractors' back tires are actually from walk-behind garden tractors from the 50's and 60's. De Jong says they're still sold commercially at Miller Tires (www.millertire.com), which specializes in "antique and odd stuff." He has also found used versions at swap meets. He also bought the front tires from Miller's.
  It takes De Jong 2 to 2 1/2 years (in his spare time) to build one half-scale model. He says most of his materials are scrap metal and a new motor costs a couple hundred bucks. His total cost for a mini is between $500 and $700.
  "People enjoy seeing them," he says. "We've put the grandkids on them in parades. A 5-year-old looks real good on it. If they get much bigger than that, they're too big for the tractor."
  To enable himself to operate the tractors, De Jong made a little two-wheel cart with a tractor seat on it that hooks to the drawbar and pulls him around. He made a special hand lever for the clutch so he can reach it from the back, and says he can reach everything else fine.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Gaylord De Jong, 2086 Hwy. 102, New Sharon, Iowa 50207 (ph 641 637-2646).

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2006 - Volume #30, Issue #4