Some purchases are unique; chicken feed and fertilizer don’t exactly fit this bill. No, I’m talking about much more rare opportunities. The kind you normally spend years window-shopping …
Some purchases are unique; chicken feed and fertilizer don’t exactly fit this bill. No, I’m talking about much more rare opportunities. The kind you normally spend years window-shopping for until you finally have the perfect opportunity.
This was the case with our latest endeavor, as I spent a normal evening cruising the listings of Facebook’s marketplace last weekend. In my spare moments, I often pop it open to check for a few things I’ve been looking for that you can’t just go out and find at a local store. One such item on my list, which I had little certainty of finding after months of browsing, was a new old tractor.
New to me, yet old itself was the goal for a few reasons. First, my wife and I are in no position to afford a new tractor at the moment and are content not to have any additional monthly payments. Second, old tractors hold their own. More metal, less plastic, and even a novice like me can figure out how to fix most things when there are no computers or electronics involved.
My wife’s father is an Allis Chalmers guy through and through. In fact, her grandfather is as well, so when it came to looking for old tractors, it seemed prudent to seek out a machine that they would be familiar with so we would know we could fix it.
Since we mainly needed the tractor for small vegetable growing, I originally decided to look at the model G, which is a small rear-engine tractor with a unique style of carrying its implements forward and under the center of the body. That way you can see what you are doing in your rows without turning to look behind you.
While this was a good idea, I soon found that they were very difficult to find, and what could be found was far closer to the end of its life than what we needed.
So after inspecting a few rusty remains of the local model Gs, I opened my thinking back up to any smaller tractor and came across the Allis Chalmers D series. These began production around the end of World War II, much like the model G, but continued with multiple iterations, including the d10, d12, d14, d17, d19, and likely a few others I missed.
On the particular evening that I found “the one,” I had been talking to my father-in-law about the d12. As I opened up the Facebook marketplace on my phone, there sat a new listing for a d12 at the very top of my feed, looking clean and lean, and saying “buy this machine.”
Well after some phone calls and questions we arranged to meet at the seller’s farm and with some help from the Allis Chalmers guru himself (my father-in-law) we pulled the trigger and shook hands on it. Unfortunately, my trailer wasn’t quite enough to get it home, so we arranged to have it delivered.
All week as I stood cutting meat in the butcher shop, I waited for my phone to go off; I finally saw our new tractor roll in the driveway Friday afternoon.
Of course, the first thing I wanted to do was take it for a brief jaunt around the farmyard but alas, it wasn’t keen on starting and even less so on staying on once prompted. After an hour or so of pop-starting and pushing and towing, we got it parked and left it for a warmer day.
Thanks to the help of our awesome neighbor, who happens to be a mechanic, we soon had it chugging, and the first order of business was to get the family on it. Now as a brief caveat, I don’t believe in letting kids ride on tractors 90 percent of the time, because there are a very limited number of safe ways to do it; however, under supervision and only in first gear, my wife took our new baby Walker for his first tractor ride for a short distance, and then I took our son Rorick for a short ride as well, officially christening the tractor as our family’s (and my) first tractor.
The way out here, we celebrate success in little ways, like a tractor ride with our kids. A tractor is an engine not just for moving things on a farm, but for moving a farm forward. Now that we have one to call our own, we look forward to all the new things we can do to grow our business as well as our family.
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