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He Carved Tractor Out Of Wood
When Bill Sontag's all-wood Allis Chalmers Model A tractor is parked next to other restored AC tractors, "Woody" blends right in. It's only on close inspection that passersby notice that pipes and curves are more octagon than round. That's because Sontag, 85, prefers working with a saw and router than a lathe. His tractor is made of wood, right down to the tires and the lettering on them.
    "I could have sanded it all, and filled all the holes to make it look like metal," Sontag explains. "But I wanted it to look like wood."
    The tractor has about 1,000-board ft. of lumber in it, mostly 1 by 6-in. treated tongue and groove pine. He used oak wood for the steering wheel and a few other parts; grapevines for sparkplug wires and pipelines; and basket-making wood from California for magneto wires.
    Sontag isn't a stranger to big woodworking projects. He once built a 60-ft. miniature train including a 9-ft. long engine, caboose and dining car. The decision to build a Model A came from hanging around the shop of his friend Larry Lietzow, who restores tractors and makes and sells parts for old AC's. Lietzow had several Model A tractors, and ù more importantly ù parts that Sontag could take home to his workshop to measure and reproduce. He built and assembled the tractor one piece at a time. When finished, he disassembled and painted each piece before putting it back together.
    Besides using his friend's parts for models, Sontag visited Lietzow's shop often to make measurements and sketches.
    Sontag built nearly everything himself, but hired someone to laser cut wooden bolts and nuts and lettering for the tires and tractor. Everything is wood except the metal rear axle, which supports the 1,980-lb. tractor and connects it to a transport frame powered by a golf cart motor.
    When displaying the tractor at shows, Sontag plays a tape of a real AC Model A running.
    Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Bill Sontag, 10828 Park St., Mantua, Ohio 44255 (ph 330 274-8244).

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2009 - Volume #33, Issue #3