Home made Model T Ford tractor

My dad and my grandfather built this tractor around 1934 in Eagle Bend, Minnesota. I will let dad tell the story, he wrote this in 2011:


I was born and raised in Eagle Bend, Minnesota. It was a small town with three car dealerships: Chevrolet, Ford and Durant. .Pretty good for a town of 500. In 1931, at the age of 14 I built my first car up with parts from the town dump. It ended up costing me about $ 7.50. The garages hauled car bodies, frames, and almost complete cars to this dump.

A friend, George Christianson, acquired a center door sedan. We tried to get it running but decided it was too far gone. After we tore it apart, I got the frame, front and rear ends. I don’t remember where I got the engine, but I started assembling a car. I acquired a touring body and used the fenders from the 1915 my Dad had junked. I got some parts from the dump ground and eventually had a running car. This lasted me about two years. Then my dad talked me into making a tractor out of it. We were moving to a little farm on the edge of town, and he needed a tractor.

We used grain binder bull wheels on the tractor for rear wheels. By mounting sprockets on the Model T axle and making a chain drive gear reduction, we had a tractor that would pull a plow. This lasted about a year until we had a better idea. We bought a double T truck and converted it into a tractor. A Buick transmission was used to get gear reduction. After we narrowed the rear axle housing, the bull wheels were mounted directly on the double T axle housings. This worked very well and would do the work of two horses.

I had no car so that was next on my agenda. My friend, George, had acquired a 1925 T touring. He ran across a coupe body for it, and gave me the touring body. I set about building another T. I cut the back seat off and made a pickup out of it. I don’t remember where I got the chassis. I acquired the engine by trading a one cylinder gas engine for it.

1933 and times were tough. My dad found that we could cut hay on some government land in Northern Minnesota. We got about four of us together and drove up north. This hay was in the bottom land, and it was swampy. We could not drive a tractor or truck on it. We cut the hay by hand with a scythe. After letting the grass dry we raked it up by hand and carried it on two long poles to high ground where it was loaded on the truck and hauled 100 miles or more to Eagle Bend. I drove my model T up there and had a universal joint go out on me. Dad brought a U. joint on the next trip. I found a tree where I could tie a rope on a limb and jack the car up to take the rear end out and change the joint.

Driving back from the haying trip at night, I saw some flashing lights as I was going through a small town. I knew it was the highway patrol and I had no current license plates on the car. I ducked over to a side street and turned left to by-pass the police. It was dark. The next thing I knew I was crossing some railroad tracks. Too late I saw that I was on a road which dead ended at the train depot and the loading platform, a two foot drop. The Ford made it OK and I evaded the police.

We had been haying about a week or ten days. Dad and the others involved sold the hay. He asked me how much I should get and I said $20.00 would be fine. He said that’s too much and gave me $10.00. Six or seven days of work for ten dollars! Times were tough.

Shaw conversion kit

T doodlebug ('21/'27 with a '28 Chevrolet transmission and TT rear end) towing a '17 T power unit: