A long serendipitous tractor story

Back in 1996 my wife and I bought the acreage on Whidbey Island that
we now live on. Soon after the purchase a guy at work saw that a
Gibson tractor was for sale for $400.00 and it came with a plow and a
disc harrow. See this link for a similar tractor:
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As the link shows this is a small tractor suitable for a truck farm.
Anyway, my tractor was missing the original Wisconsin 7HP motor. The
guy I bought it from had removed it and replaced it with a Kohler. He
told me he could hear a ticking sound and thought it might be the
connecting rod. I couldn't hear it and the tractor worked great so I
gladly paid the $400.00 and took it home. Where it promptly threw a
rod when started there. But I wasn't that concerned because when we
bought the land there was a bunch of junk and several junked cars that
we had to dispose of. And in one old station wagon was a Wisconsin
motor that looked like it might work and which I thought might be
repairable. So I drove out to the island to retrieve the motor and all
the junk cars were gone. The guy we bought the land from had
contracted with the local junk yard to remove the cars and after the
land changed hands the junk yard was for some reason dragging its feet
removing the cars. Imagine my surprise when I find the cars gone! So I
drove up to the junk yard to see if the cars were still there with all
the junk inside them. They were but the owner was really pissed about
the job and didn't want me getting anything out of any of the cars. I
told him I expected to pay for anything I wanted and he calmed down
and said sure, take any small engines you want, no charge. I found out
later the reason he was so pissed was because the cars took him way
longer than he thought to remove and to add insult to injury he had
also made an offer on the same parcel but I offered $1000.00 more and
so I got it. Anyway, the Wisconsin needed new rings, a valve job, a
carb rebuild, and a few gaskets. At the time Wisconsin was supporting
engines back to 1940 so getting the parts for this engine was no
problem because it was made in 1945. So after rebuilding the Wisconsin
engine I pulled the Kohler and saw that even though the tractor was
painted red there was grey paint showing under the engine. The engine
I retrieved from the junk yard was also painted red. When I placed the
engine on the tractor frame it was a perfect match. It could be
clearly seen that it was this particular engine that was on this
particular tractor when it was painted red. Serendipity! I found out
later that the tractor was made in 1945 and that Gibson was painting
their tractors grey at the time. The engine usually starts on the
first or second pull on the hand crank. It has the type of magneto
that winds up internally at low RPM and then kicks over suddenly so
that turning the thing at any RPM will still deliver a big fat spark.
I put in a 2000 square foot garden with the Gibson, using the plow to
turn over the virgin sod and blackberry covered ground. Tha back tires
have water and calcium chloride in them for weight and since the tread
is worn I also run modified truck chains. It uses push-pull steering
which takes a little getting used to but I like it. It also has a
mandraulic front blade and the rear hitch and plow attachment is also
raised and lowered by hand. I am thinking about putting a power
steering pump, a valve, and a hydraulic cylinder on the tractor to
help with raising and lowering the blade because I have bone on bone
joints in both wrists and this really limits how much pushing I can do
with them. If I do put on the hydraulics it will be done in such a way
that it will be removeable and won't require any welding or drilling
on the tractor. I still use the little tractor a lot. It has great
pulling power and fits into small places.
Phew! That was long.
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snip the motor tale
Long , but worth the read . The thing is that these machines were made so much better back in the day . I'm awaiting parts now , got all the major problems identified .
Reply to
Terry Coombs
I'm glad you enjoyed the read. What's interesting is that Gibson made the tractors from whatever they could find at the outset. So the transmission in the tractor is a 1935 Chevy truck transmission while the rear end was not made by Chevrolet. It was either a Ford or Chrysler product. Even though the little tractor is a conglomeration of different makes it all works together well. And it's a load of fun to use too. Eric
Reply to
Good. That saves the collector/historical value.
Fun story, Eric. I'm glad you shared it with us.
Bummer on the wrists.
Reply to
Larry Jaques
The doc said that the crushed wrists probably saved my back. He said the energy absorbed there is probably why my spine wasn't broken. He wasn't joking either. I'm glad you enjoyed the post. It's lucky for me that the particular tractor I have was most likely made in Seattle while all subsequent models were made in Colorado. So I was lucky there because I'll bet not many made it from Colorado back to Washington. The model I have is the Model A, maybe that's why it was painted Ford grey. And the tractor is geared so low that it will pull an amazing amount of weight considering its size and horsepower. Eric
Reply to
Neighbour when I was growing up in Elmira Ontario in the sixties had one of those tractors, and he converted it to a steering wheel instead of the push-pull and added a "hood" to make it look more conventional. His was grey untill he painted it green.
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