Allis-Chalmers Manufacturing Co., Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA


Edward P. Allis & Co. was established in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1861, and a few years later they built their first steam engine. In 1878 they began to produce the Reynolds-Corliss engine, the most advanced design of that era, and by the turn of the century orders for these were pouring on from all over the world. In May 1901, Edward P. Allis & Co. joined with a number of other companies, including Fraser & Chalmers of Chicago, Illinois, to form Allis-Chalmers. The merger added items such as mining equpiment, cement-making machinery and locomotives to the A-C product line. By the end of the decade, Allis-Chalmers had expanded significantly and employed over 10,000 people. Such growth and diversification came at a price though, and by 1912 the company was on the verge of bankruptcy. On 8th April 1912, the company was placed in the hands of receivers, Delmar W. Call and General Otto H. Falk.

The Allis-Chalmers Manufacturing Co. was formed on April 16th 1913 with Otto Falk as its president, and it was he who was largely responsible for the introduction of farm equipment to the A-C product line. The first step in this direction was an agreement to build under license a self-propelled rotary cultivator developed by Motoculture Ltd of Basel, Switzerland. Such designs were quite popular in Europe at the time, but Allis-Chalmers was unable to persuade the American farmer of their benefits. The second venture undertaken by Falk was the construction of a tractor-truck, which was equally at home in the field and on the road. This half-track design, which appeared around 1915, was unfortunately ahead of its time and priced too high, although a batch of ten was sold to Russia. At least one of these was fitted with armour-plating and a gun, and participated in the Russian Revolution and subsequent civil war.

At the same time Allis-Chalmers was also developing its first true tractor, the three-wheeled 10-18 model, a prototype of which was completed by November 1914. This was heavily influenced by the best-selling Little Bull tractor of the same period - in fact, Falk had already been approached by the Bull company with a proposal for co-production, but had declined in favour of Allis producing their own design. Serial production of the 10-18 began the following year, but it never matched the success of the Bull, as the design was already becoming outdated and farmers were looking towards more conventional four-wheel designs. In spite of this. Allis pushed ahead with their plans for a successor to the 10-18, the little 6-12 model, a lightweight machine based this time on the "Universal" tractor produced by the Universal Tractor Co. of Columbus, Ohio. (It was so similar in fact, that when Moline took over the Universal Co. in they successfully sued A-C for copying the design.) The 6-12 proved to be another commercial failure though, and even the novel idea of joining two 6-12s back to back to double the power, was not enough to tempt farmers, especially as the Fordson was already begininng to make its presence felt.

Allis's response to this was the 15-30 model, its first conventional four-wheeled tractor, and also the first to use its own design of four-cylinder engine. Introduced in 1918, the horsepower rating proved too conservative, and the uprated 18-30 that appeared the following year was the first of the highly successful Model E series. Special versions of the Model E with more powerful engines and various extras were also offered to try and tempt threshing crews away from steam power. The introduction of testing at Nebraska saw the 18-30 evolve further into the 20-35 model, and when this tractor was given a thorough re-design in 1927 by Harry Merritt and the price was also cut significantly, sales went from strength to strength. Less sucessful though was the smaller 15-25 Model L, which had been introduced in 1921 with a 12-20 hp rating, and was aimed at farmers who perhaps did not need the extra power of the Model E. This tractor was entering an already overcrowded marketplace, however, and sales of the Model L were low, although at least one tractor made it as far as Australia!

In the late 1920s, Allis made another attempt at building a smaller tractor, this time with far more success. The Model U, which appeared in 1929, was the first tractor to feature Allis's new Persian Orange colour scheme, another of Harry Merritt's initiatives. It was also one of the first tractors to use pneumatic tyres. The purchase of the Monarch company in 1928 allowed A-C to break into the crawler market, and it also diversified into harvesting equipment in the 1930s. It was the Model U and its successors that really put Allis-Chalmers on the map as far as tractor production was concerned though, and A-C went on to become one of the world's largest producers of tractors, with factories in Europe and Australia. In fact, the distinctive orange tractors continued to be built until 1985, when the company was purchased by Germany's Klockner-Humboldt-Deutz, which in turn became part of the giant AGCO Corporation in 1990.

Model Details

Model 10-18     (1915-1921)
Allis-Chalmers 10-18 (click on image to enlarge)
Production of the 10-18 model began in 1915. The first ones built ran on petrol only, but the following year a paraffin (kerosene) version was introduced that only used petrol for starting. The engine was an A-C two-cylinder opposed design of 5.25 x 7 in bore and stroke that ran at 720 rpm, with a Detroit force-feed lubricator, Kingston double-bowl carburettor and either K-W or Kingston high-tension magneto. The tractor had only a single forward and reverse speed, with drive via exposed pinion and bull gear. It is not known how many 10-18s were built as production figures for 1914-18 are lacking, but numbering most likely began with 1001. Some 10-18s were exported, and this model was sold in France as the "Globe" via an agency in Paris.

Model 6-12     (1919-1926)
The little 6-12 appeared in 1919 and in common with several other similar machines of that era, it was powered by a four-cylinder LeRoi Model 2C petrol engine of 3.125 x 4.5 in bore and stroke running at 1000 rpm (and later 1200 rpm). It had a single forward and reverse speed and was fitted with a Kingston Model L carburetor and either an Eisemann or Splitdorf (Dixie) magneto. The tractor was articulated just behind the rear axle and the single rear "sulky" wheel (later replace with two wheels) could be substituted with a range of implements, including existing horse-drawn ones. In illustrations it was often paired with an Oliver single-furrow plough. A total of 1471 A-C 6-12 tractors were built between 1919 and 1926, with serial numbers starting from 10001. A special Model B orchard version of the 6-12 with lowered engine and covered wheels appeared in 1920, and an industrial version with heavier flat-spoked wheels also appeared. However, the most unusual modification was the so-called "Duplex" model, which consisted of two 6-12s joined together back to back - this doubled the power and gave four-wheel drive, supposedly allowing a three-furrow plough to be used, but it does not seem to have been very successful.

Model E 15-30/18-30     (1918-1921)
Allis introduced their first conventional tractor, the 15-30, in 1918. It used their own make of engine, a four-cylinder 4.75 x 6.5 in OHV unit that ran at 830rpm. Two forward speeds were provided. The tractor had a sheet-metal radiator and the engine compartment was enclosed by steel panels on the very first tractors, although roll-down canvas curtains also made an appearance. In 1919, after extensive field testing, the tractor was remaned the 18-30 and the Model E designation also began to appear. Among the cosmetic changes on the uprated model was the replacement of the old radiator with a cast iron one that had raised "Allis-Chalmers" lettering on the header tank, and flat-spoke front wheels also seemed to appear around this time. Near the end of production the engine speed was increased to 930 rpm. Both the 15-30 and 18-30 were designed to burn kerosene (after starting on petrol) thanks to a special vaporizer on the manifold and a double-bowl Kingston Model E carburettor, although the latter was replaced with a Model L on later tractors that ran on petrol alone. K-W and Dixie Model 46 magnetos were used at first, but these seem to have given way to an Eisemann Model GS4 on later examples of the 18-30. A total of 1160 Model 15-30 and 18-30 tractors were built, with serial numbers starting from 5000.

Model E 20-35     (1923-1930)
Allis-Chalmers 20-35 "short-fender" version built from 1927 (click on image to enlarge)
After testing at Nebraska in September 1921, the Model E 18-30 was renamed the 20-35 in 1922 advertising, although production of this uprated model did not begin until the following year. Serial numbers for the 20-35 started with 6161. The same engine was used as in the 18-30, but the horsepower increase was due to the 20-35 being equipped to run on petrol as standard, although the kerosene-burning manifold remained an option (mainly for the export market). The new 20-35 had a plain cast radiator header tank with painted lettering. A "Special" version of the 20-35 with higher compression (and hence horsepower), canopy, whistle and other additional features was offered for threshermen at extra cost. A road version with canopy, extra-wide rear wheels and disc-type front wheels was also available.
In 1927, from serial no. 8070, the old "long-fender" 20-35 Model E 20-35 received some major modifications: it was equipped with shorter arched fenders (mudguards); the weight and wheelbase were reduced; pressure lubrication was introduced; wheels were now painted green instead of red; and the price was reduced significantly. After serial no. 9870 the Kingston carburettor was replaced with a Zenith Model C6EV. The next few years also saw other improvements made to the transmission, clutch, steering, etc. An uprated version of the Allis 20-35 was also sold by the Banting Manufacturing Co. of Toledo, Ohio from 1925 - this tractor, known as the "22-42 Greyhound Special", was designed for threshing work and had a 5 in oversize bore, canopy plus other optional extras. They seem to have been painted either grey or green and featured the "Greyhound" name on the radiator up until 1930, when it was replaced by "Banting Machine Co.".

Model E 25-40     (1930-1936)
The 25-40, introduced in 1930, was the final incarnation of the Model E. The same engine was used as on the 20-35, but the bore was increased to 5 in (with a 5.25 in version available for threshermen) and the speed to 1000rpm. The 25-40 was also slightly heavier than its predecessor. A kerosene version was still offered and pneumatic tyres were also an option. The Zenith carburettor and Eisemann magneto (now a Model G4) were also carried over from the 20-35. Serial numbers started from 24186 and a total of 1425 25-40s were built. In 1936 the Model E was replaced by the largely unsuccessful Model A.

Model L 12-20/15-25     (1921-1927)
Allis-Chalmers 12-20 (click on image to enlarge)
The Model L 12-20, which appeared in 1921, was the little brother to the 18-30. Intended as a three-plow tractor, it was fitted with a four-cylinder Midwest engine of 4.125 x 5.25 in bore and stroke running at 1100 rpm. After testing at Nebraska in September 1921, the tractor was re-rated as a 15-25. The tractor was normally equipped to run on petrol only (via a Kingston Model L or Wheeler-Schebler Model A carburettor), but a special manifold (and Kingston Model E double-bowl carburettor) could be supplied for burning kerosene. A Dixie 46C magneto was fitted. Like the 18-30, early versions of the Model L had the Allis-Chalmers lettering cast into the radiator header tank, but this was later replaced with painted flat lettering. From February 1924, Allis began to offer special Orchard and Road Maintenance version of the 15-25 - the Orchard model had smaller-diameter rear wheels, disk-type front wheels and full orchard fenders, while the road tractor was equipped with wider and heavier-duty rear wheels than standard. Both special models also had individual rear brakes. Serial numbers started with 20001, with the 15-25 rating introduced from 20134, and only 1705 Model L tractors were built in total.


Photo Gallery (Click on images to enlarge)

Allis-Chalmers 10-18 (serial no. 1534) at the Henry Ford Museum, Dearborn, Michigan, USA in 2004. The tractor was donated to the museum by the Allis-Chalmers company.

Allis-Chalmers 10-18 (serial no. 2078) at the Gathering of the Orange, Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, Canada in 2004. The close-up photo shows the Detroit lubricator and K-W magneto.

Allis-Chalmers 10-18 at Fort la Reine Museum, Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, Canada in 2004.

Allis-Chalmers 6-12 (serial no. 10603, built 1920) at the Midwest Old Threshers Reunion, Mt Pleasant, Iowa, USA in 2011.

Allis-Chalmers 6-12 at Pioneer Village, Minden, Nebraska, USA in 2011.

Allis-Chalmers Model E 20-35 "long-fender" (serial no. 6203, built 1923) at the Vooroorlogse Tractorshow Bergeijk, Netherlands in 2008. This is one of the very first 20-35 tractors built after the model was uprated from the 18-30.

Allis-Chalmers Model E 20-35 "long-fender" (serial no. 8016, built 1926) at the Wheatlands Musuem, Warracknabeal, Victoria, Australia in 2007. This tractor is fitted with extra-wide "road wheels" on the rear.

Allis-Chalmers Model E 20-35 Special "long-fender" at the Gathering of the Orange, Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, Canada in 2004. This tractor was designed for threshermen and was equipped with various extras including a canopy and whistle. Note also the oilers protruding through the bonnet (hood), which allowed the necessary parts to be lubricated while the tractor was running on the belt.

Allis-Chalmers Model E 20-35 "long-fender" at Fort la Reine Museum, Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, Canada in 2004.

Allis-Chalmers Model E 20-35 (serial no. 12163, built 1928) at the Great Dorset Steam Fair, Dorset, England in 2002.

Allis-Chalmers Model E 20-35 (serial no. 14659, built 1928) at Pioneer Village, Minden, Nebraska, USA in 2011.

Allis-Chalmers Model E 20-35 (serial no. 15255, built 1928) at the Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer, Grand Island, Nebraska, USA in 2011.

Allis-Chalmers Model E 20-35 (serial no. 17603, built 1929) at the Pioneer Power Show, Le Sueur, Minnesota, USA in 2011.

Allis-Chalmers Model E 20-35 (serial no. 19562, built 1929) at the Vooroorlogse Tractorshow Bergeijk, Netherlands in 2011.

Allis-Chalmers Model E 20-35 (serial no. 23164, built 1929) at the Booleroo Steam & Traction Preservation Society Museum, Booleroo Centre, South Australia in 2007. Note that this tractor is fitted with a manifold for burning kerosene (paraffin).

Allis-Chalmers Model E 20-35 (serial no. 23244, built 1929) at Onslow Park Rally, Shropshire, England in 2009.

Allis-Chalmers Model E 20-35 at the Antique Farm Equipment Museum, Tulare, California, USA in 2005.

Allis-Chalmers Model E 20-35 at the HMT Show, Panningen, Netherlands in 2005.

Allis-Chalmers Model E 20-35 at the Williams sale, Herefordshire, England in 2007.

Allis-Chalmers Model E 20-35 at the Little Casterton Working Weekend, Lincolnshire, England in 2007.

Allis-Chalmers Model E 25-40 (serial no. 25153, built 1934) at the Newark Vintage Tractor & Heritage Show, Nottinghamshire, England in 2009.

Allis-Chalmers Model E 25-40 (serial no. 25575, built 1935) at the Yorkshire Vintage Association Rally, Newby Hall, North Yorkshire, England in 2011.

Allis-Chalmers Model E 25-40 (serial no. 25606, built 1936) at the Pioneer Power Show, Le Sueur, Minnesota, USA in 2011.

Allis-Chalmers Model E 25-40 at the Heidrick Ag History Center, Woodland, California, England in 2008.

Allis-Chalmers Model L 15-25 (serial no. 21349, built 1925) at the Gathering of the Orange, Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, Canada in 2004. The right-hand photo also shows the 10-18 and Model E 20-35 tractors at the same event.

Allis-Chalmers Model L 15-25 (serial no. 21362, built 1925) at the Little Casterton Working Weekend, Lincolnshire, England in 2012.


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