How’s this for different?
Living near Seattle, it’s not every day that a farm tractor passes me on I-5, yet that’s exactly what happened to me this past Sunday. I had never seen anything quite like this tractor, either. Fortunately, my lovely wife was riding shotgun and sighed “Yes, I’ll take some pictures for your blog.” She’s a keeper, I tell ya. She discovered that’s it’s a little hard to take a picture of a tractor that’s doing 60mph, but I’m happy that she did anyway. Take the jump to learn more about this interesting machine.
It turns out this is a Rumely tractor, and it is nothing like the turbocharged beast that Scott shared with us in November. A few nights ago, I began doing research on the name and discovered that this particular line of tractors was called Advance-Rumely Oilpull Tractors. Now, my knowledge of tractors is limited to an old Fordson my grandfather uses, so I had to do some more digging, and I just about struck gold. I found a website dedicated almost exclusively to pre-1930 tractors, primarily the Advance-Rumely tractors. It’s run by a very helpful man named Chris Epping, and he answered the many questions I had about Rumelys. I really have to tip my cap to him for all the information he gave me.
Chris identified this machine as a 1929 25-40 model X. It was the last style of tractor Rumely built before they went under in 1931. As you can see, it looks mostly complete and in pretty decent shape. I wish I could have talked with the guy pulling it, to find out where he got it and what he was planning to do with it.
I won’t quote our entire email conversation, but I wanted to share with you some of Chris’ answers to my questions.
This tractor was fairly common on a small to medium size farm in the 1930’s. As far as market share, that is kind of hard to say. Today, two or three companies dominate the farm equipment market. In 1920, there were probably 20 companies that shared fair percentages of the sales. Rumely was in the top five companies in the early to mid teens. International Harvester and JI Case were probably the only ones bigger. Deere was a small player at that time. But by the late teens and through the 20’s and 30’s other companies took over and many of the old ones from the first twenty years of the century disappeared. Ford, John Deere, Allis Chalmers, Minneapolis Moline, got into the market and along with Case and IHC, they pushed the others out. So Rumely went from a front runner in the industry in 1915 to a company liquidated for its dealers network and sold to Allis Chalmers for pennies in 1931. Kind of like the Auto industry. Gone from 100+ US companies in 1910 to 3-4 today. But it’s no doubt, Rumely was a big name in tractors from 1910-1930. They were very well built and they sold about as many tractors as anyone in the first few years, but their design did not keep up with the times and lighter weight 4 and 6 cylinder tractors took over the market. Esp when companies like Ford came out with the Fordson and sold them for a fraction of the cost.
The first Rumelys were green, but the one like you saw would have been some shade of steel blue.
Chris clearly knows his Oilpulls, and cares a lot about them. I’m very grateful that he shared this information with me, so I could share it with all of you. I can’t really add much more to this post, except to say my interest in tractors has been piqued like never before. Restoring, owning, and maintaining these old steel beasts is a labor of love, much like owning a classic car or truck.
[My thanks go to Chris Epping at http://rumelypull.tripod.com/Rumely.html for the information. Thanks, Chris!]