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Allis-Chalmers C has been a workhorse for 75 years

My Favorite Tractor: The C was an all-purpose machine, handling tillage chores, cultivating corn and raking hay.

Harlen Persinger

June 21, 2024

2 Min Read
Landon Lauer sitting on Allis-Chalmers C tractor while Dad Richard Lauer stands next to the tractor
FAMILY FAVORITE: This 1949 Allis-Chalmers C has handled a variety of chores for Richard Lauer (right) on his farm near Menomonee Falls, Wis. Pictured on the tractor is Richard’s son Landon, who helped restore the C with his brothers. HARLEN PERSINGER

Roman Lauer farmed 120 acres in Menomonee Falls, Wis. He purchased a new 1949 Allis-Chalmers C from a Ford dealership in the area and teamed it with a Farmall 20.

The C became the all-purpose machine, handling tillage chores such as culti-packing and dragging, cultivating corn, and raking hay.

“I started working with that tractor at 10 years of age,” says Roman’s son Richard. “When the dairy cows were sold, I planted sugar beets, vegetables and did other tasks before going to school. In 1984, I went on my own and built the operation to 1,000 acres of rented ground. However, larger and more efficient equipment pushed the C to the sidelines, and it sat idle and in the shed for several years.”

In 2000, Richard bought the C for $500 at the family’s estate sale. The day came when his three sons — Mike, Dan and Landon — wanted to restore the tractor. The body was still in good shape, so they started with general maintenance by adding new pistons, seals, a clutch, brakes, a seat, a radiator and overhauling the motor. When everything was done, including a new paint job over a six-month period, the cost was $2,000.

The C was a small row crop tractor manufactured by Allis-Chalmers in West Allis, Wis., from 1940 to 1949. Over 80,000 units came off the assembly line at a cost of $1,200 in 1949. The C replaced the model B, which was too small to work two crops at once.

The newer version was adapted with wide wheel spacing options, a larger engine and additional fuel options. Besides a PTO and hydraulics, there is a three-speed transmission. It weighed 2,500 pounds, had a rating of 21 hp and used the RC’s 125-cubic-inch (2,050 cc) Allis-Chalmers four-cylinder engine with gasoline or distillate fuel options.

Today the tractor, along with an Allis-Chalmers two-row and four-row cultivator that always sits inside, goes to area parades and shows. There’s also plenty of rides with the grandchildren: Kaden, Addison and Emmerson. Richard’s wife, Twyla, also putters around the yard with the C.

“This is my favorite tractor because I grew up with it and spend countless hours in the seat. It runs smooth on the road at 12 mph,” says Richard, who has driven a semitrailer for 40 years. “Dad would be proud of the C and thrilled that it handles chores in the pumpkin patch. I can still see him cultivating sweet corn and potatoes seven to eight hours a day.”

To have your favorite tractor featured, email or send in a photo of yourself with your tractor, along with a 300-word write-up about the tractor, to: [email protected] or Wisconsin Agriculturist, P.O. Box 236, Brandon, WI 53919.

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About the Author(s)

Harlen Persinger

Harlen Persinger is a photojournalist who lives in Milwaukee. Since 2004, he has freelanced for regional and national farm publications such as Wisconsin Agriculturist and Farm Industry News, plus many others.

Persinger grew up on a farm in Grundy County, Iowa. He received a degree in ag journalism from Iowa State University in 1972. He has traveled to more than 40 countries and has been a member of the American Agricultural Editors’ Association (now Agricultural Communicators Network) since 1976. In 2016, he was the first photojournalist/freelancer to receive the organization's Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2017, Persinger began providing college scholarships to 4-H’ers from his home county who have an interest in photography/journalism and agriculture. He was inducted into the Iowa 4-H Hall of Fame in 2023.

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