I am submitting for consideration my 1974 Simplicity 3414S.
I started looking for an old AC graden tractor some time around 2003 after I discovered that there were a few of these still around and there was a bunch of people in America that were still enthusiastic about these little pieces of old iron. We had three Allis Chalmers garden tractors when I was a kid and spent many hours on my B10 mowing grass all over my home town from my mid teens all the way through college. The last time I saw an AC garden tractor is when I entered the Army in 1974. My dad sold the property and gave away three working tractors and an host of attachments. I was horrified that he would get rid of them but then again I had no place I could have stored a single attachment let along a garden tractor. I assumed that my days of interaction with Simplicity/AC garden tractors was a thing of the past.
Then one day I came across one on the internet and the hunt was on. I started doing a nightly search of ebay and craigslist. I soon discovered that I lived in a vast desert of Simplicity and Allis Chalmers Garden Itractors called the Gulf South. I soon learned that there was nothing much available within 1000 miles of my home in southeast Louisiana. For three to four years I search and even bid on a few but was quickly outbid on ebay. My most promising attempt was on a Allis Chalmers 414s that was listed in Memphis with a low starting bid. I turned out to be the only bidder but the tractor was pulled off the market without explination just hours before bidding was to stop. In all my searches I grew a fondness for the lines of the early AC 700 and Simplicity. 3300 3400 and 7000 series. To me they are the prettiest small tractors to ever come out of the Port Washington Plant.
Then in the Spring of 2007 I found a repainted Simplicity 3414S on the plains of Southwest Missouri near Lamar. The seller said that it ran good and only smoked a little. I was the only bidder bidding in the last few minutes of the session only after exchanging emails with the seller. I ended up buying the tractor for something like $200-250 dollars which was not bad but I knew the biggest cost would be the cost of retrieving it from Missouri, a 1500 mile round trip. The cost of gas had recently risen to something around $4/gal and I had a truck which got no better than 13 mpg going down hill wth a tailwind. To add to the cost there was the cost of renting a trailer to make the round trip.
My wife thought I was nuts. "It probably won"t even run", she said. I assured her it would run, because the seller had told me it did.
Since it was going to be so expensive I decided to make an adventure of it so I asked my grown son to ride along to share in the fun of a THT (tractor hauling trip). I made arrangments with the seller to pick up the tractor a month later in the middle of June.
That Saturday morning we picked up the trailer and headed for SW Missouri. I struggled to keep my speed at or under 60 mph to try to squeeze the most out of my gasoline dollars. 10 long hours later we arrived in Lamar, Mo. I called the seller and told him we were in town and were on our way to his place. I was using a GPS system and with the sun hanging low in the sky I followed it out into the flat featureless farmland and got lost. We hunted around looking for his place and finally stopped at a house and got directions finding that we were about 1/4 mile from our destination. By the time we pulled up at the seller's little shack on the prairie the sun had set and it was quickly getting dark.
The seller came out and met us with a part in his hand. "I hate to tell you this but the ignition on your tractor burned up this morning", he said handing me a chared ignition switch. "The ignition switch shorted out when I tried to start it and burned up the magnito" he explained. I looked at the tractor as a skeptic and could see that there was no way that he had removed that ignition switch from that tractor because the corrosion on the battery terminals had not been disturbed and the screws in the dash tower had not been turned in years. I had to resist screaming "liar, liar, pants on fire".
"I'd, be glad to give you back your money if you want", he said sheepishly. " You must be joking", I said. "I have much more intested in this than the cost of the tractor and I ain't going home without it." We pushed it up on the trailer and I left with my tail between my legs.
I was so demoralized and felt so cheated I could hardly stand it. My son tried to reassure me but I felt like such a dope. We drove back down to Joplin, MO and got a room for the night (more money). When we got to the room, I called my wife and told her we were safe and sound in Joplin and that she was right as usual, because that tractor did not run. She said that she was sorry I was disappointed and that maybe I could fix it. That was probably the best phone call I have ever made. So she wasn't going to divorce me yet.
The saga continued on the way home with me receiving my first speeding ticket in 30+ years in a speed trap in Waterproof, LA. I was really off to a great start with this tractor.
When I got her home I worked the next couple of days to get the engine started and within a short period of time I had refurbished her and repainted and rebadged her to look like an Allis Chalmers early model 700. The tractor was so pretty my wife said that I could park it under the patio if I wished. I knew that with that I was finally vendicated.
Later that fall I purchased a Johnny Bucket Jr and even made enough money to pay for it and all that to date I had spent on my tractor moving crushed limestone up under some t-buildings where not even a skid steer could venture. since then I have added a new grader box, an original tool bar cultivator, a 10" moldboard plow, a Brinly Sweeper and now a 36" tiller. She will be receiving a "new" 16hp engine for Christmas this year. My little 3414 is still a work in progress.
Over the years Sweet Allis, as I call her, has had a number of shed mated, a Kubots G5200, a Kubota G1800 (loved the diesels), an Allis Chalmers B112 and now an Allis Chalmers 916H I got from Indiana but nothing has a place in my heart like my Sweet Allis. .
Sweet Allis is a working tractor so I decorate her with a wreath and bow.
Edited by skunkhome, December 15, 2012 - 12:31 AM.