My father owned one of these little tractors that he used on his farm for mowing and raking hay. I have fond memories of driving it when I was a small boy, though at the time I am sure that I complained about having to.
These tractors are quite old, they were manufactured from 1938 thru 1957. According to the serial number mine was manufactured in 1950. The following links will provide some of the HISTORY and the SPECIFICATIONS of the B.
The one that my Dad owned was a very early model, probably pre-World War II. I can remember asking about what appeared to be a very small additional fuel tank on the right side, in front of the main fuel tank. He told me that originally the small tank held gasoline while the main tank was filled with kerosene. The tractor would be started on gasoline and allowed to warm up, then switched over to kerosene, which was much cheaper at the time. He also mentioned that the tractor originally came equipped with hand brakes and no electrical or hydraulic systems. The simple electrical system (battery, starter, generator, and lights), foot brakes, and hydraulics (pump, valve, single acting cylinder) were added through the years.
I thought it would be nice to purchase a “B” and restore it for my grandson to drive around. What follows will be the story of that restoration.
This is a picture of the B that I ended up buying, still sitting on the trailer the day I brought it home. That’s my son-in-law Danny and my grandson Alex checking it out.
When I had first started talking about restoring a “B” Danny shared with me that his grandfather had taught him to drive a “C” when he was young.
I had looked a quite a few examples before finding this one. Lots of the ones that I saw for sale were in pretty rough shape from years of neglect. I found this particular tractor on my local Craig’s List. It looked good in the one photo with the ad but I had learned that a photo can be misleading. I tried to contact the seller but did not get a response, so I continued my search. A few weeks (and several tractors) later I noticed the ad was still on Craig’s List so I tried contacting the seller again and asked that they call to let me know if the tractor was still for sale. Late that afternoon I got a call advising that it was still available.
The owner said he and some friends had cleaned it with a steel brush and had it painted. Both fenders, battery box, oil pressure and water temperature gauges, and seat cushion were new. The tractor had been stored inside and not run for several years. My wife and I took my trailer and drove over to the sellers location, about 40 miles from our home.
It had what I like to call a 20 foot paint job, it looked good from a few feet away, but a lot of flaws were evident upon close inspection. The tires were all cracked and dry rotted. The engine turned and seemed to have good compression but would not start. But, it was all there and in fairly decent condition. We agreed on a price and I loaded it onto the trailer. I was the owner of a B Allis Chalmers!
The next week I called a friend who was into antique tractors and got him to come by and see if we could get it started. I had called Ray on my cell phone while I was running some errands and by the time I got home he already had it running. Turns out the points were stuck closed. But it would only run at idle, and just for a few minutes. So, I unloaded it and got it into the garage of my shop. I knew the gas was old so I took the sediment bowl off to drain the fuel. All that came out was a few drops at a time. No problem, I thought. I’ll just remove the sediment bowl assembly from the fuel tank. Still no luck! So, on to plan B.
I got Danny to help remove the fuel tank and we dumped the stale fuel out the filler opening. Then we took a brass brazing rod and broke loose all the crud from the fitting on the bottom of the tank. Then we stapled a scotch brite pad to the end of a wooden dowel and used it to scrub all the interior areas of the tank we could reach. Then we flushed the tank with the stale fuel to get the debris out, followed by a flush with a small amount of fresh fuel. We couldn’t get the crud out of the passages of the sediment bowl so a new one was ordered. So far, so good.
Danny gave me a hand hooking up all the electrical, we hooked up the battery, and it fired right up!
As I said in the beginning, the tires were all cracked and dry rotted. One of the front tires wouldn’t hold air when I bought the tractor. I took it to a local shop and had a new tube installed. The rim was so rusted on the inside that they had to wrap it in duct tape to prevent the rust flakes from puncturing the new tube.