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Farm Shop Turns Out Steam-Powered Tractors
Building small-scale, steam-powered tractors is a big job, especially when every detail down to the smallest rivet is an authentic reproduction of full-size original models.
Allen Smith, Winston Smith and Lester Clemons have spent five years building three identically detailed 1/3-size copies of the 1915 Case 65 hp. steam tractor. Working from original blueprints with precise measurements for every part, the three men a farmer, a machinist and a foundry worker have recreated every last detail. They have had to build molds to cast many of the parts and have been able to machine many of the others.
"There's a lot of time-consuming detail," Allen Smith recounts. "For example, every wheel spoke requires three separate machining operations to make them fit exactly as the originals."
The three tractors are now at various stages of completion. They'll be fired with wood or coal fed into their down-sized fireboxes and the single steam-powered piston will drive the cleat-equipped metal wheels. Their 1/3-size steering wheels will direct them.
"We're able to save time by building three at once because we can cast or machine three parts at a time. The experience we get building one helps build the others," says Smith.
Smith has built a second antique tractor in addition to his steam-powered Case. Several years ago, with the help of his machinist uncle Winston Smith, he completed a 1/2 size version of a Waterloo Boy, the predecessor of John Deere tractors. He copied details of the Waterloo Boy exactly although, unlike the steam tractor project, he "borrowed" some of the more complex parts engine, clutch, transaxle from other machines.
He says he made lots of trips to the Deere tractor museum to look at and take measurements from the company's full-size restored Waterloo Boy. The crankstart engine he used on his tractor came from an old Deere 12A pull-type combine, the clutch from an old Massey Ferguson, and the transaxle came from a Volkswagen. Much of the rest of the tractor was fashioned from a variety of materials. "Some of the simplest looking parts are hardest to build. The tractor seat was a big problem and one of the most difficult parts to make on the tractor," says Smith.
The Waterloo Boy is exhibited at antique tractor shows during the summer. The steam-powered tractors will also make the rounds once they're finished. All four tractors will make an appearance at the Smiths' own antique tractor and machinery show that's held every year in the middle of August near Grand Mound.
For more information, contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Allen Smith, Rt. 1, Box 6, Grand Mound, Iowa 52751 (ph 319 847-6683).


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1984 - Volume #8, Issue #3