By Ken Bolton
Allis-Chalmers 1934 Model WC serial number 629 began life in West Allis, Wis. My grandfather Carl M. Bolton ordered it new from a dealership in Carson, Iowa — his only new tractor. After spending its first 70-some years in Iowa, it returned to its birth state, received a ground-up restoration and is primarily retired at nearly 84 years of age.
Only 28 WCs were manufactured in 1933 and just under 3,200 in 1934, so No. 629 was constructed fairly early in the 1934 manufacturing run. Although Allis-Chalmers was known to make several design changes throughout individual manufacturing years, including 1934, tractors made in 1933 and early ’34 have similarities that tractors manufactured later lack. For example: a cast-iron oil pan and valve cover, upper radiator shell without “Allis-Chalmers” on it, optional PTO, larger fuel tank fill port, a slightly different transmission shifter cover and a base-mount magneto. Although all 1933 models had a Waukesha motor, which makes them particularly unique, 1934s and those to follow sported an Allis-Chalmers four-cylinder engine.
Actually, No. 629 had a much more storied life than the introduction divulges. For its first 15 years, the tractor was the primary power on a diversified dairy, livestock and crop farm in southwestern Iowa. It also did custom work grading township roads and harvesting with a mounted corn picker and All-Crop pull-type combine. It was traded in by my father, Harvey S. Bolton, for a used WD in 1949.
In 1977, he shared with me that he intended to get No. 629 back. After a few phone calls, the tractor was found. During the previous 28 years, it had been through four other owners but had never been more than 30 miles from the home farm. Dad talked the owner into trading it for a 1937 WC plus cash. He got it running and drove it in at least one parade before placing it in storage for another 20 years. At his death in 1998, No. 629 became mine.
Over the years I collected missing parts. After a bit of harrowing, mowing, plowing and disking, it began to burn oil. An evaluation of the motor revealed the need for a complete overhaul. With this information, the decision was made to restore No. 629.
I remember Grandpa Carl telling that he had overturned the tractor. He was plowing out a fence line when the steel wheel lugs climbed up an unseen, broken off wooden fence post. Before he could react, the tractor turned over, throwing him out onto the plowed ground. The tractor continued to run with wheels turning while lying on its side. Fortunately all that was injured was Grandpa’s pride. He picked himself up and ground out the magneto. While restoring No. 629 during 2014 and 2015, I found evidence of the damage that occurred during the accident.
My son Kelly is the fourth generation to work this tractor. I intend to leave it to him as my father did for me.
Bolton is a retired University of Wisconsin Extension dairy and livestock agent from Fall Creek. 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@example.com or Wisconsin Agriculturist, P.O. Box 236, Brandon, WI 53919.