Tractor Time: 1939 Allis Chalmers Model B

Submitted by Barn Finds reader Clark B., this cool old tractor is one of over 120,000 Model Bs that were built on both sides of the Atlantic between 1938 and 1957. This one is in good running order and has been offered for sale here on craigslist, with a listed price of $3,500 or trade. It’s located in Cadillac, Michigan.

I expect the lettering is reproduction, but doesn’t it look great? The tractor is set up for current use, despite being 78 years young, with a 12 volt system and a choice of electric or mechanical (crank) starting. It even has new tires and working brakes!

You can read a lot more about the Model B here, if you’re interested. That looks like a modern alternator on this side of the engine, which if you are planning on using this tractor isn’t a bad thing. One interesting thing about tractors is that the University of Nebraska has been testing tractors almost as long as there have been tractors, and all the tests are viewable by the general public. The 1938 test of the Allis Chalmers B is viewable here. It makes for interesting reading, especially when you compare to a modern tractor.

The ad for the tractor mentions that it is equipped for a “buzz rig,” although the rig itself isn’t included. I didn’t know what one was, but a little google-fu yielded that it’s a buzz saw used for chopping wood. I found this picture of a similar Model B with one on the back. Somehow, I don’t think OSHA would approve–it looks like a good way to lose a limb or two if you’re not careful!

As the ad says, “Look at the jobs a B can do….!” Could it do them for you? How could you best make use of this small but capable tractor?


  1. Howard A Member

    Aw, this is so cool. I have a friend that bought a Allis B just like this last year, redone ( but not restored) with 12 volt, and alternator, and lights. I won’t insult the seller, but it wasn’t $3,900 bucks (oops, I think I just did, sorry) I’m pretty sure this was Allis’ answer to the 8N Ford. Sturdy, capable little tractor, perfect for the hobby farm. Big jobs, not so much, however, I’m sure many were overworked as the only tractor they had. On to the buzz saw,,,,you’d never get THOSE past OSHA these days. The farm I live at has a IH with a buzz saw on the front, dangerous as HELL. ( that’s right, I used the “H” word this time to make my point). Years ago, when I came up here, we would go in the woods with the buzz saw tractor, and it was always his dad’s job to actually cut the log. It has a small “table” on rollers and we’d hold the log, while his dad pushed it into the spinning blade. No guards whatsoever. Once, we’re holding a log, and his dad pushed the log into the saw and slipped, and he caught himself about an inch from the spinning blade! We all held our breath, he stood up, looked around, and said, ” c’mon, grab the log, let’s go”. We all knew he was pretty shook up. This was before chainsaw’s became the standard way of cutting wood. Not that chainsaw’s are any safer. Great little tractor here.

    • Ck

      Hey Howard I have a story about the buzz saw attachment on a tractor. When I was a kid I worked at an apple orchard.When we were done picking apples for the year, we cut and split fire wood .One day I was working with the 80+ year old owner , he was cutting the wood into log length pieces.My job was to feed him the long lengths.Well he decided to pull when I was pushing.He came within inches of cutting my arm off.I yelled a few profanities at him,he chuckled and we went back to work.That was the last time I worked with him with the buzzsaw.Working at that orchard was a trip.As for these little tractors,There is a farm in Berkly Ma.that has at least 3 running ,and a few that don’t, they use them all the time .Indestructible little workhorses for sure Verry kool Barn Find!

      • Howard A Member

        Hi ck, that same day, his dog, an Irish Setter, was with us, and also came within inches of the blade. You don’t hear of a lot of farm accidents these days, probably because of the vanishing small farms (not long ago, I heard, at a rate of 5/week) and everything is automated, but they happened a lot years ago. Just about everybody had a “farm” story.

  2. WRS

    Great little tractors. Smooth running little engines.

  3. 86 Vette Convertible

    Had a CA and a WD growing up, good tractors. If I had a storage area and room and equipment, that’s one I’d love to have.

  4. Fred W.

    I didn’t grow up on a farm, but Dad had 9 acres that needed tending and decided a tractor would be helpful. We found one of these in a field that looked like it would never move again, for about $75. A few days later he had it chugging away and in another couple of weeks it was bright orange again. Served us until we got a Ferguson 20 years later.

  5. MH

    I’m big into the antique tractor scene. I really with there would be more of them featured.

  6. geomechs geomechs Member

    We had a buzz saw hooked up to an IH W4 then a John Deere 2010. We cut a lot of wood with it before a total stranger showed up one day and wanted to buy it. Dad went to town and bought a Pioneer chain saw the next day.

    Allis Chalmers wasn’t very popular in my region for some reason. I used to see the odd one from time to time and they were good tractors. Maybe if we had a dealer close by….

    • Howard A Member

      Hi geomechs, they sure were popular in the Badger.( Made in West Allis, Wis. There’s absolutely no evidence, that I know, of that great tractor today. The factory was torn down, and a housing/shopping/office complex took it’s place, which I think is sad) Matter of fact, on any given ride up here, there’s always an orange tractor ( or 3) in various stages of disrepair in the fields.

  7. Myron

    I used to own a C with a B front end and a universal tow bar that was made special for this tractor by a neighbor. It was a good dependable tractor that had been converted to a 12 volt system some time back with front head lights and one tail light and rear work lights.

  8. Fred W.

    When pulling stumps they easily did wheelies, fun for a 14 year old, until you went a bit too far and ended up inverted.

  9. G 1

    Early ones like this had hand brakes. Going down hill with a hay wagon was a trip. That’s when you needed that third arm.

  10. William D

    My Grandfather bought a B model new in 1949. It was ordered from the factory and shipped by rail to town 6 miles away. With out a trailer or truck to haul it home on my father 16 years old drove it home. It ran a hammer mill for livestock feed and was rented out with my dad to disk and cultivate neighbors crops. This old tractor was parked in 1983, needed electrical work, I was 13. In 2001 my dad asked if I thought I could make it run again. After a year of restoration my Father worked his small garden with his new again tractor. I got to ride on the draw bar for the trailing plows and remove grass from them just like when I was a kid. Dads gone now and I am the third owner of this B model with the same name.

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      Terrific story, William, thanks for sharing!

  11. Dan h

    I think every farm had an Allice B or a 8N at one time or another!
    Still have our AC sitting out on some property in N. Utah.
    Have fond memories of the old girl. Used to keep an old western boot over her exhaust to keep the rain out, when we would fire her up the boot would shoot off.
    Got such a kick out of that as kid.
    Had a six inch crack up the side of her block, nothing a weld bead couldn’t fix, good as new!
    One day, someone decided they needed her magneto more than we did, so they stole it. She’s been sitting for 35 years ever since. So sad.

  12. Rich Nepon Member

    I had a WD-45 with a live PTO and a 12′ sickle bar. Loved it. Replaced an IH cub.

  13. Richard Love

    These old tractors are so cool. At one time I had 2 Farmall Super Cs. When I bought one the seller threw in a ’27 McCormick Deering 10-20! Running! I finally donated it to a local ranching museum.,I still got to drive it in local parades and in a local antique tractor pull. Different culture then when I had a Ferrari Lusso. Tractors are much easier and cheaper to work on.

  14. Bruce Fischer

    I have this one to grade our mountain drive way here in East T.N. Bruce.

  15. Chris N

    Cool tractor but every time I see one of this vintage the first thing that pops into my head is Hoyt-Clagwell. LOL!

  16. Brent Mathson

    My grandad used a 1939 Allis Chalmers B tractor to cultivate his potato garden. One day the tractor quit and I asked Grandpa if I could have it. I was in high school at the time and didn’t know a lot about tractors but thought that I could get it running. I pulled the oil pan and checked the rod bearings. One was bad so I replaced it but didn’t have the means to fix the crank journal. I got the tractor running but it had a noticeable knock. My dad used the tractor sparingly on his farm. Years later, when I was a high school shop teacher, I overhauled the engine and got it running like a watch. My dad used it on his farm to haul hay wagons until he passed away in 1991. The tractor sat until today’s date (October, 2019) when my son trailered it to his home with the intention of a complete restoration. He said that one day his sons will drive their great-great grandfather’s tractor. I can’t wait until it’s done. I can still see my grandpa riding it around his garden.

    Brent M.

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