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:
http://www.sbchistoricalsociety.org/images/HistoricPhotos/GibsonTractor/Gibson_A.jpg
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. Eric
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Best thing I've read all day. Congratulations on your trip back in time.
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snipped-for-privacy@whidbey.com wrote:

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 .
--
Snag



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wrote:

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
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On Fri, 24 Oct 2014 11:06:06 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@whidbey.com wrote:

Good. That saves the collector/historical value.

Fun story, Eric. I'm glad you shared it with us.
Bummer on the wrists.
--
A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner, so if
one's life is cold and bare he can blame none but himself.
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<SNIP>

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
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On Fri, 24 Oct 2014 11:06:06 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@whidbey.com wrote:

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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