History of Allis-Chalmers and the HD-5 Crawler Restoration Project
By Jim Clare Monte Vista Colorado
The history of Allis-Chalmers goes back to 1840’s when Edward Allis started a leather shop in Milwaukee. Later on he sold that business and purchased the Reliance Works which did black smith and machinery work. In 1886 the first steam whistle blew New Year’s Eve from the Allis steam engine. By 1889 Allis employed 1500 employees at his new factory and foundry. In the years to follow the Allis manufacturing company became involved with building many farm, construction and house hold items. One of the big items developed in 1877 was the Improved Corliss Engine which run on steam. Also in 1889 Edward Allis died but his legacy lived on.
Later years the chance meeting of the Allis executives and William J Chalmers started negotiation to merge. On May 8th 1901 articles of incorporation were filed in New Jersey for the Allis-Chalmers Company. Soon Allis-Chalmers would find themselves building mining equipment, electrical equipment, steam engines, and farm tractors. In 1929 the color of Persian orange was established for Allis-Chalmers equipment. It came from the color of poppy fields in California. This time was also the start of all Allis-Chalmers tractors being painted Persian Orange.
A few years later in 1931 the purchase of the Advanced Rumley Thresher Co. took place. The Rumley line started back in 1854 with brothers Meinard and John Rumely. The main item manufactured was a line of threshers and later the development of the Rumely steam engine. Along the same line in 1928 Allis-Chalmers purchased the Monarch crawler tractor division and thus the Allis-Chalmers crawler was soon to come about. With their own engine line now purchased from Budda the rest was history for the development of the wheel tractor and the crawler tractor. Allis-Chalmers was manufacturing everything from fuel cells, electric substation equipment, graders, kilns, turbines, generators and house hold heating units with many more items not listed.
Now to the Allis Chalmers HD -5 crawler tractor restoration project. The H-D 5 was first manufactured in 1946 and run with a Detroit 2 cycle 2 cylinder diesel engine. The HD-5 was first manufactured in 1946 with only 6 being manufactured the first year. The line of HD-5 continued until 1955 with 3691 being manufactured as the end of that series. The total number manufactured was 29255. The H-D 5 had a draw bar HP rating of 38.24 with a PTO HP of 47.85 at 1800 RPM. The cost for an H-D 5 in 1955 was $6585.00.
The HD-5 that I have was purchased from Curt Kaiser by Sargent School in the San Luis Valley about 2009. When I looked at it there was a crack in the water jacket on the head. The cause of this was running water in the engine during potato harvest and forgetting to drain it once harvest was over. All of the pads on the tracks had been cut with a torch to fit down the potato rows. This didn’t look like that big of a deal until we started to tear into the engine and the rest of the crawler. Then we found cracks in the block and cracks in the head by the valve seats. Worn drive sprocket, bad seals, rusty bearings, cut track pads, rusted out battery boxes, worn out seat and the list goes on but the radiator cap was still good. After 11/2 years, four engine blocks and heads, an engine rebuild kit from Ken Kafka in Ault Colorado, bearings and seals from all over the US, special pad bolts from Oregon, parts from McMaster & Carr, some wheeling and dealing with Art Brown by Hooper Colorado I found enough parts and pieces to put it back together. It isn’t the rebuilding that can be the big challenge but the finding of all the parts and pieces to put it back together. The project was pretty much complete in time for showing at the Monte Vista Ski Hi Stampede Parade and the Del Norte Covered Wagon Days parade in the summer of 2017.
As you can see from the pictures the project was extensive and from the ground up. We took it down to the frame as the more we worked the more we had to tear apart to fix. We had to get another set of tracks and cut the pads off for reuse, searched high and low for special tapered bolts for the pads, drive sprocket to match up with the good one, new steering clutch bands, drive axle & input shaft seals and bearings (one set of bearings were found in original AC boxes), rebuilt battery boxes, generator and starter along with new head lights. A lot of the tools we used were hand made to do the task we needed such as large bolts, nuts and retainers. Last but not least was the painting of Persian Orange to set the project off.
It was quite a project and with the help of the late Steve Horwath it is complete and running in all its glory. The H-D 5 and an Allis-Chalmers M crawler have been two very prize winning projects for myself and those that helped.