Which Way Tug: Coleman CF 55 Aircraft Tug


This old aircraft tug listed on eBay from the early 1950s is said to be rare and vintage but it’s hard to imagine how it could be worth the $22,000 BIN price. That’s about a dollar a pound. It has a cab facing both forwards and backwards, 4 wheel drive and a huge winch. It’s in Salem, Oregon. These are also known as the Federal F-55. The Air Force used these to move aircraft, from fighters up to heavy bombers. It has 4 wheel steering so it is very maneuverable. Special thanks to Peter R for another interesting tip!


Here’s one of the cabs, the one facing the engine end. Forty years sitting has taken its toll. That’s a big binder of instructions sitting there.


The engine has water in it so it is stuck, no doubt.


This is the other end. Perhaps we can call this the front.


This is what the tug would look like restored. It’s hard to imagine what it took to restore it. Perhaps the one for sale could be restored cosmetically for display. The windows could be replaced and painted silver. We do occasionally feature strange and unusual vehicles here on Barn Finds and often their cause seems hopeless. Do you see any hope for this tug?


  1. Mark S

    It might be useful for a small logging operations. I’m sure that that big winch could literally pull a big tree right out of the ground.The price is way to high though.

  2. DAN

    am I the only one that want to make this a street legal ride??????????

  3. redwagon

    not enough clearance to be a logging vehicle plus a grapple skidder would do more work for less money to operate and purchase.

    at 22 large, dude be crazy.

  4. Pete

    love it.

  5. Joe Haska

    Looks like 50’s Chevy pick up doors and dash, that could help a little , but it would be way too much for my skill level and motivation!

    Like 1
  6. Van

    I don’t think the words DOT Approved are on any part of this. That makes it’s value in it’s weight in scrap metal. Outside of a municipal airport I don’t know what it would be good for.
    That being said, it would be cool to make it street legal. I would think a major weight reduction is in order.

  7. Howard A Member

    Well, scrap torch iron, which I think this is, is $45/ton. I guess it’s pretty neat, as a really big thing, but not too practical. Why someone would restore one is beyond me. This was powered by a 525 Buda motor, putting out 125 hp. Wonder how scarce Buda motor parts are. IDK, it served our country well, and it’s time to salute you, as the torches fire up.

    • Dave Wright

      The winch is worth 1000-2000 but not much more there. The cab would make a fun playhouse, actually if it was in any kind of condition it would be appropriate at the Evergreen Museum with the spruce goose. These were designed to move huge B36’s and other extra large aircraft of the time. Probably tops out at 20 MPH best speed under 10 MPH designed to tow a house.

  8. Imperialist1960

    $22,000 is a “go away” price, as in: “Look, wife, I listed it for sale, are you happy now?”

    Because keeping it safe on the property is the only way to preserve it, you know.

  9. stillrunners stillrunners Member

    FiFi the CAF B-29 came into Love Feild Dallas one weekend….I sterred the B-29 while one of my ramp jock buddies drove one of these – the old Braniff tug….it was around for awhile down south….it’s priced to much for yard art…

  10. PAR

    Awesome machine. It deserves to be saved and used for something??? I would use it in my off road trucking operation to free stuck trucks. Pity it is so far away.

    • Dave Wright

      It is too slow to get to the worksite. Military wreckers and tank retrievers do at least 50-60 mph, have winches on both front and rear that are larger than this one. I also do that sort of work on both the shore and in the water. This machine is mostly useless.

  11. Wiley Robinson

    That has “Wasteland Weekend” written all over it.

  12. D. King

    Seller says ““fair condition for what it is.” Kinda ridiculous statement, judging by the photos.

  13. Alan (Michigan)

    Cost a couple of grand to haul it out of where it is stuck to the ground, and get to someplace where it might be worked on.

    Seller is dreaming. Maybe his finger stuck on the zero key, and he added a couple of extra ones by mistake? One, anyway. His estate will have to pay someone to take it away.

  14. Steve

    Pull the Cab and mount it on a modern half ton chassis. Pull the winch and maybe the differntials. Scrap the rest.

  15. chad

    Do i C a ford 240/300/4.9 exhaust manifold in that 3rd pic? No? may B not…
    That’s the engine in the airport tugs used here…

  16. cj

    It looks part Studebaker?

  17. Mark R

    Hmmm… Which to restore first, the Coleman?, or the Federal?? Check your local aviation museum for updates. Aisle B-36.

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