2018 - Volume #42, Issue #2, Page #08[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
Custom-Made Pedal Tractors
“My average buyer is at least 70 years old,” says Turner. “I sold one to a man in upstate New York who was 96 at the time. He told me that he had more than 1,200 pedal toys in his collection.”
Turner started out building half-size tractors. His first was a G Allis because they were first manufactured in nearby Gadsden, Ala. He built 12 of them, 2 of them electric-powered. He also built 5 half-size 101 John Deere and some Doodlebugs (kit tractors from the 1940’s that used car frames and motors).
All of them share the same C-channel frame, Cub Cadet transmission, rear end and steering. The gas versions are powered with modified 6.6 hp. Predator engines with rope starts. The electric versions use 5 hp. D-C Cushman motors.
Eventually, Turner built a pedal version of his favorite, the Allis G. He has built 25 pedal versions so far and is working on 26. He kept the first and No. 25, but the others quickly sold. One is on display at the Ertl museum in Dyersville, Iowa.
“I have one collector in Indiana who has a standing order for the first of anything I build,” says Turner. “When I decided to build a Roto-Baler, 2 were sold before I built the first.”
He has also built 6 D21 Allis Chalmers tractors with 8-bottom turning plows that are longer than the tractors.
In addition, he built 20 John Deere 101s. They used treadle power instead of pedal power. Turner says the treadle style was the most common design for child-size cars.
“I thought they would sell faster than they did,” he says. “I still have a few left.”
His latest models are 220 Allis Chalmers. He built 2 with realistic front snow blades and rear scraper blades and is in the process of completing 8 more without implements.
“Most people don’t want implements,” explains Turner. “They take up too much room to display.”
What sets Turner’s work apart from commercial pedal tractors is the dedication to detail. They include wiring and tubing and working shifts, as well as steering. Recent models have 9-volt batteries powering LED lights, hand powered 3-pts., and lift mechanisms for the front blades. Both front and rear blades can also be adjusted to different angles. In the case of the Roto-Baler, belts move, as does the apron. Turn the pto shaft by hand and everything moves.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Don Turner, 7200 Valley View St., Hokes Bluff, Ala. 35903 (ph 256 492-4468; firstname.lastname@example.org).
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