BATTLE CREEK — Forty-eight years ago, a Battle Creek man built a homemade tractor for his children.
Now, nearly five decades later, he’s done the same thing for his grandchildren.
Bill Seifert began building a tractor for his grandchildren in June 2021. Long before then, he made a homemade tractor for his children.
“In 1974, I made a tractor for my children out of auto parts I had lying around,” Seifert said. “It was fully functioning, and they learned how to ride it and enjoyed it a lot. When it came to my grandchildren, I wanted to do the same thing but with a little more safety.”
Between the designing, building and connecting all the different parts together, it took 13 months for Seifert to build the tractor for his grandkids, he said. The fully functioning tractor can go forward and backward with four different speed options available.
“Because some of my grandkids are very young, it features a clutch that has to be pushed and held down while moving. When the pedal is released, the tractor stops. All of this was done for safety,” Seifert said.
The tractor was modeled off the I.H. Farmall tractor design, which tends to be popular in the agriculture space. It features headlights, a two-point rear hitch and a category one receiver hitch. The two-point hitch is electrically powered and will lift attachments up to 1,000 pounds. The tractor also has parts that are decades old, including a 1966 Datsun rear axle, which was modified to fit the tractor; a transmission from a 1976 Volvo car; and a 7-horsepower Kohler engine with an electric start and automatic clutch.
“Most of the metal was recycled from my junk pile,” Seifert said. “As for the tires, the rear wheels were custom-made so that it could fit the tractor.”
During the building process, Seifert relied on his several decades of experience. About five years ago, he retired from the Elkhorn Rural Public Power District, where he worked with parts for 44 years. Before that, he worked as a car and tractor mechanic beginning at 12 years old.
“I mostly worked on cars and sometimes on tractors. But, I always liked tractors more,” Seifert said.
Seifert worked on the tractor part time and finished it last week. His grandchildren witnessed the building firsthand and constantly inquired about the tractor.
“As soon as the seat was installed, they began playing on it and asked all sorts of questions,” Seifert said.
However, that’s not all that the tractor will feature.
“For the future, I’m working on a small broom for the rear that contains a hook and rope and a manual hand crank winch to lift and carry items. Before winter, my plans are to make a front snow and dirt blade that is removable,” Seifert said.
“It’s been a fun project to make. Thinking about the grandkids as you work and having them stop by to ask questions made it all worthwhile,” Seifert said.