Old Tractor, Twin City.

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Builder Junky!
Jan 18, 2013
Northern Alberta, Canada.
Guys, I've been building something for a while now but it isn't a car so maybe I should talk about it on the BS section.
It's an old tractor. There were two tractors at first; a 1922 Twin City, and a 1927 Twin City. This Minneapolis Steel and Machine Company brought in two more companies in 1929 to form the Minneapolis Moline Company. In about 1936 the new company went away from battleship grey for it's tractor colour and chose harvest gold, [orangey yellow].
One of my tractors is sort of yellow, but it was made nine years before the company went to yellow, so I think it was an industrial machine. I think this tractor powered a sawmill in the winters as there was sawdust in what was left of the air cleaner. The tractor looked rough and abused.
The other tractor was older but all rusty and it looked better. It had been an agricultural unit for many years, we guessed. When we took the motor, transmission, and rear-end apart, everything was worn out, really worn out. The last picture is of the tractors waiting for me to get doing something.


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I was visiting with some friends that farm near Grande Prairie. The farmer and his hired man are work-aholics, and have a nice big shop to work in. In a fit of boredom they asked what I was doing. I said I was getting behinder and behinder, and could they help me out. They agreed, for a price, and I dug both tractors out of the snow and hauled them to their place. I was to do the running for parts and rebuilding little things. That all could be done with one eye shut, right? ------ Wrong. It turns out that you can't just go running to the nearest Twin City machine agency, anymore, or the local Minneapolis Moline store, or even a close White Farm Implement dealership. Sheesh. In about two days the guys had both tractors all ripped apart and spread all over the floor. The best stuff was picked out and I was sent here and there; getting the head rebuilt, ordering new rings, getting a new radiator core, finding gasket and seal material, and maybe coming up with a brass carburetor. :eek: The last picture is of the appropriate carb that we found, but it's got pieces missing and I had already made a few carbs; a Kingston, and a Zenith. We finally went with the Zenith.


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Love the old tractors. I've got a 1955 IH 300 Utility, my Pa in Law has a 8N Ford. Fun finding some of the parts for them. Steiner Tractor is a good source for a lot of stuff.
Thanks, Guys, for showing some interest. This project is a little off to the side of mainline hotrod building, but it is building, and some hotroding, although I hide it in old looking pieces. [plastic fuel float in carb, instead of almost one hundred year old, laminated leather; some small block Chevy valve guides, with Caterpillar valves, shortened and re-grooved for the keepers; many things made on the lathe, and cast iron pieces welded together and made to look like original solid cast-iron.]
Torchie, I imagine you have had to hodrod a few pieces in the boat too, not everybody could do what you do.
Bam, I have the Steiner Tractor catalogue, and read through it sometimes for enjoyment.
Well not as off topic as a wooden boat build mac.[cl :D [ddd
Mine will be hot rodded when I stick that Ford Y-block back in it.:eek: :cool:
Maybe we have the makings of a new category here on the UDS.
The "Not Rat Rod related but cool none the less" builds sections.[ddd
I always find it interesting to see what other interests our fellow site members have. And usually we are DIY people across the board when it comes to things besides cars and trucks.
Can't go wrong with old farm steel! My dad had a hand full of old tractors. Thanks for sharing!
Well not as off topic as a wooden boat build mac.[cl :D [ddd
Mine will be hot rodded when I stick that Ford Y-block back in it.:eek: :cool:
Maybe we have the makings of a new category here on the UDS.
The "Not Rat Rod related but cool none the less" builds sections.[ddd
I always find it interesting to see what other interests our fellow site members have. And usually we are DIY people across the board when it comes to things besides cars and trucks.
I'll second the suggestion. We have lots of things here already that qualify.
Love it... I have a '50 Ford 8N my own self! If you're gonna post progress I wanna move this thread to the "Builds" section! I'm sure everyone else wants to follow along too!

I'd like to watch the progress too. Although I've never actually used a tractor to farm(meaning growing food) with, I've owned 8 from the late 30s up. Tremendous help around a place when you work solo. We all like machines. Like was said before..building is building!
Thank you.
Torchie, I've been watching your thread, secretly waiting for the day you put that promised Y-block in it. That's the only reason, cause wood scares me. You can't heat it up and bend it around and if you cut it too short you can't weld it back together and cut it longer. [ddd Here's a philosophical question for you guys. What percentage of the builders that you know, work well with wood and metal? Most people work well with one or the other but not both. Torchie, your one in that small percentage.
Tripper, that's great news, about moving this thread to the build section. I was afraid there would only be a slowly fading vapour trail and funny smell, once you saw it. :D :cool:
As I said, I was to do the little things. There was an inspection plate hole in the upper right hand side bellhousing. It probably had a cast-iron cover 6"x6". I went to the local Farm machinery wrecking yard and looked at the old Minneapolis Molines. There I found two plates that were too small and the retaining clip. One old tractor had a cast-iron rad cap which I also needed. These tractors that I was robbing were twenty years newer than My old Twin City's. I cut one plate off at 1"x6" and welded it onto the bottom of the other to make a 6" square. I smoothed the weld down and filled the crack with body filler and as it dried I hammered in some emery cloth. The second picture is the plate primered.
One of the tractors had a Robin carburetor on it, and I tried to rebuild it but I broke some stuff and couldn't get any information, parts or gaskets for it. Then came a Kinston brass carb. I didn't get the needle and seat smooth enough or the homemade plastic float wasn't strong enough. It over-filled, but the tractor ran a few times with it. I eventually built a Zenith that I could get a kit for.


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The two guys that were doing the big work on the tractor didn't take many pictures and wouldn't paint the tractor, as they went. They did a lot of work though and got the old tractor running again after probably 60 years of neglect.
We had our grief getting a magneto working and mounted straight and true, only to find out Twin City mags have to turn counter-clockwise. We found one that we could make work backwards but it had no spark retard for hand cranking then. When you first turn a mag slowly [as in cranking], you are only turning the input shaft, and a little rewind spring. The big click that you hear, is dogs letting the small rewind spring go so the rest of the mag suddenly turns fast enough to create a spark but it is late. This retarded spark gives you less chance of the crank kicking back and breaking your arm.
So we finally found part of a mag that turned the right way, an American Bosch. It was only missing the distributor cap. We could not find the right cap. I was telling another friend about my mag troubles, [in a whiny voice, possibly], when he said he could make me a cap. I said "nobody in their right mind could do that." He said, "Oh, I enjoy a challenge, bring me some pictures of what you need." A couple of days later he phoned to say, come and get it." We put it on the mag and mounted the whole unit, and started the tractor up just like that. [cl
Here are some pictures of the last mag we got and the homemade distributor cap. You'll see a silver spacer behind the cap. My guy had to make that out of plate aluminium because the piece of plastic I found for him, was too thin. I had found some brass nuts and bolts at a hardware store, but he needed the bolts to have really big diameter, thin heads, so he made the spark terminals out of 1" brass shaft, on his lathe. He used the nuts I had found as they looked era correct. Anyhow, the magneto works like a charm.
I painted that 6"x6" cast-iron square inspection cover Battleship Grey.
The partial air-cleaner that was on one tractor was era correct, but I doubt if it was original. I wanted to fix it up and make it look good. The centre section was functional but beat up, [possibly used for a football during lunch hour down at the sawmill], and another top had been roughly welded on and also caved in. The bottom section was missing. I got to make that look however I wanted, as long as it looked old. [;)


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