Bill Whitaker's Homemade Tractor

Here's how one man scavenged parts from several old vehicles to build an inexpensive homemade tractor.

| September/October 1978

  • 053-118-01
    Bill Whitaker assembled his homemade tractor from five trucks — two for the frame and three for the engine, transmissions, and axels.
  • Bill Whitaker seated at the wheel of his tractor.
  • A universal joint transfers power from the first transmission to the second.
  • Tractor tire.

  • 053-118-01

"I always wanted a tractor but I couldn't afford one," says 20-year-old Bill Whitaker of Garrattsville, New York. "So I built my own."

Built his own he did! And while it's true that Whitaker's homemade tractor may not be exactly the most stylish machine you've ever seen, it only cost him $200 out of pocket to construct, it handles well, it delivers 25 to 30 miles per gallon out on the road (where it's been clocked doing better than 80 miles per hour!), and—as Bill has already proved at Morris, New York's Otsego County Fair—it'll out pull factory-manufactured tractors in its weight class.

Whitaker began the construction of his machine by sliding the back end of a Model T truck frame into the front of a 1950 Dodge truck frame (the two cutoff sections—which overlap about two feet—were then bolted and welded together).

The wheelbase of the new chassis was kept as short as possible so the finished tractor would have a very tight turning radius. Furthermore, by starting with the front half of the Dodge frame the way he did, Bill was able to use its front axle, accompanying wheels, and steering gear "as is" merely by tacking on a sectional steering shaft outfitted with universal joints taken from a Gale "chopper."

A husky, two-speed rear axle from a GMC truck is rigidly attached to the rear of the tractor's chassis, and 28" tractor tire wheels have been welded to the truck rims mounted on the axle.

The engine and radiator on the Whitaker machine came from a 1964 Chevrolet "292" pickup that Bill bought for $20. And the six-cylinder powerplant is connected to that burly GMC rear axle through two four-speed truck transmissions (it took two to step the gearing down enough for the pulling contests that the tractor has won).

leroy oneal_1
1/16/2010 5:32:17 PM

i got 30 pair of plow handles made with oak steam bent for $14.00 a pair must go send for pic. or call me 4177787825 email

larry george
3/23/2009 3:53:25 PM

Only in Garrattsville. Guys were building doodlebugs in G-ville 50 years ago. It's almost impossible to build anything for $200 these days. 80 mph with no suspension. That takes nerves of steel. Have fun.

3/23/2007 8:47:14 PM

neat article.. more pics would be nice ?? liked the ingenuity shown here.. didn't say anything about power steering or pto possible??

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