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Gas-Powered Tractor Looks And Sounds Like Old Steam Tractor
When gas engine tractors started replacing steam engine tractors, Townsend Tractor Co. decided to help transition farmers by building tractors that still looked like they had steam engines. That fascinated mechanic Robert Hesse, so he decided to build his own model of the Townsend with scrap materials he had accumulated through the years.
    "People not real familiar with them would swear it's a steam engine. There's just no wood fire smell," says Robert's son Kevin Hesse, of Ann Arbor, Michigan.
    Robert started with the "boiler," a 16-in. piece of natural gas pipe, and a 6 hp Economy engine, adding spare parts he had on hand. He hid a heater core from a large truck inside and a washing machine water pump in the pipe, with a steam dome on top used as a water reservoir. Engine exhaust is piped forward and creates airflow up the smokestack, which draws air past the heater core and cools the engine.
    "All of the electrical wires, spark plug and other items that would reveal it is a gas tractor and not a steam engine have been hidden or disguised to look like something else. He did a better job of hiding stuff than Townsend," Kevin says. He's still amazed how his father managed to hide so many of the mechanical parts in the "firebox" behind the "boiler." The 2 by 2-ft. box holds a Deere drive gear, Model A differential, a Ford Falcon clutch and transmission, and an air-cooled engine converted to an air compressor to blow the whistle. Fuel and air tanks are hidden in "water tanks" in front of the wheels. The battery and electric fuel pump and tools are hidden in the "wood boxes" on the back that also serve as seats.
    Another interesting thing about the tractor is that Robert can show people the difference between a hit-and-miss engine and a throttle-governed engine, by turning water valves, which are actually electric switches that control a flyball governor and the original governor. To make smoke, Robert uses a small, pressurized tank of kerosene that is injected into the exhaust.
    "It just amazes me the stuff he's accomplished and how he's figured this all out over the years," Kevin says.
    Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Kevin Hesse, 6028 E. Joy Road, Ann Arbor, Mich. 48105 (ph 734 846-7750; khesse@comcast.net.)

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2008 - Volume #32, Issue #4