Note: This feature is in the July TF 2018 issue
Scratch building pedal tractors can be a daunting challenge. Don Turner accomplished the feat with his Allis-Chalmers D21. And, he completed the venture with superb craftsmanship.
Don is a welder by trade, with an affinity for farm tractor mechanics.
"I learned to weld during vocational training while in high school. With that schooling, I specialized in welding along with fabricating. I had a welding job for about 10 years before starting my own business. In 1978, I launched Turner Welding. Although farming is not my background, I started the business by purchasing used tractors and farm machinery. I bought the pre-owned equipment for restoration and then resale. In addition, I fabricate a lot of replacement parts for old tractors and equipment," Don related.
After operating his business for a period of time, Don began scratch building pedal tractors. He also constructed related equipment to the same scale. Don't primary focus has been Allis-Chalmers, but he has branched into other brands.
"I scratch built 25 of most every model early on, but now I make fewer of each one," he remarked. Following is the list of scale models that Don has fabricated to date:
A-C Model G
A-C Model D21
A-C Model 220
John Deere 101
1929 Ford doodlebug
1938 Star doodlebug
A-C mounted bale pickup
A-C sickle mower
A-C roto baler
A-C seven-bottom plow
Double gang disc
Don's accomplishments in building pedal tractor stirred an interest in fabricating fully operational half-scale versions.
He noted, "I enjoy going to farm machinery shows. Viewing those shows was a lot easier by driving a small tractor. Most people used golf carts to get around. But for me, I wanted to drive a scaled-down tractor. And so, I started making half-scale tractors. Driving the model tractor to see the show was really enjoyable. I also entered them in antique tractor parades. Trust me, those small tractors caught a lot of attention, along with many questions about them."
Don has built 14-half-scale Allis-Chalmers Model G tractors; nine are gas and two are electric-powered. He has also built five half-scale John Deere 101 experimental tractors, all powered by gas engines.