Allis-Chalmers Tractor Plant

Ever wonder what the Allis-Chalmers tractor assembly line looked like? Bet you wish you could have taken a tour of it when the plant was humming with activity and churning out the beautiful Persian Orange tractors they were known for. Let’s take a tour back in time..


We will begin our tour with a brief introduction and layout of the Allis-Chalmers Tractor Division

Tractor Shops at the West Allis Works

 The Allis-Chalmers Tractor Shops are located in the heart of one of the greatest industrial areas in the United States. Two thousand one hundred (2,100) men and women work on 20 acres of floor space to provide farm power for today’s living and to develop ideas for tomorrow’s modern and reliable tractors. Here at West Allis we produce the D-10, D-12, D-15, D-17 and D-19 wheel tractors the H-3 crawler tractor, and a variety of power units. These tractors are used in virtually all parts of the world from the wheatlands of Kansas to the northern latitudes of Finland.

The requirements of specialized farming machinery and an increased demand for utility tractors has created a challenge to farm equipment manufacturers. Allis-Chalmers has met this challenge by producing its farm and industrial tractors on modern assembly lines with such a wide range of options that during 5 years production no one tractor would be duplicated.

We have adopted the material management concept in order to coordinate our Purchasing, Ordering, Scheduling, Receiving, Materials Handling, and Shipping Departments.

The heart of the Materials Department is an IBM 305 RAMAC Computer, shown below, which is used to maintain the records of the 2,300 to 2,500 parts that make up the average tractor. The current status of any one of these parts is available in less than 2 seconds.

Computer Database


The D-17 and D-19 transmission housing are cast in our foundry and machined in the tractor shops on a series of single purpose machines.

Milling D-19 transmission housing

The milling machine, shown the picture, mills the five outer housing surfaces. There are 134 drilled holes and 114 tapped holes in each transmission–four machines accomplish the entire job. The last operation involves boring 12 holes in four sides of the housing at one time.

Assembling D-19 transmission

Transmissions are assembled only after a thorough washing and visual inspection. Most transmission parts are made by Allis-Chalmers–all parts are subjected to rigid quality control during both manufacture and assembly.

Inspecting transmission on test stand

Every transmission is connected to the testing machine and run in each gear, which is another quality control step to assure unfailing performance.

Hydraulic Pump Machine Assembly and Inspection

A high performance piston pump in the D-15, D-17 and D-19 tractors supplies dependable hydraulic power under widely varying temperatures. Seemingly insurmountable problems were solved in the manufacturing of this pump before it was accepted for use in our tractors. There are 96 operations necessary to prepare the pump body for assembly. The position bore tolerances are held to .0002″ (2 ten-thousands of an inch) and are checked by air gauges as shown in the photograph.

Inspecting hydraulic pump body

General Purpose Machines

The double spindle turret lathe is one of several general purpose machines used for producing a multitude of tractor parts–power steering supports, transmission and torque tube retainers, brake drums and PTO bearing cases and retainers. This versatile lathe can machine two different parts at one time with a high degree of accuracy.

Double Spindle Turret Lathe

Other general purpose machines include drill presses, single spindle lathes, and milling machines. A group of 21 automatic screw machines are used to produce a wide variety of parts consisting of gear blanks, hubs, shafts, valves, plungers, screws, bushings, spacers, plugs, bolts, pins, etc. The bar stock used ranges in size from 7/8″ to 5″in diameter. The screw machines can drill, tap, face, bore, turn, thread, ream, burnish and chamfer bar stock in one setup to produce parts with tolerance–.0005″

The tracer lathes are used mainly for machining several types of shafts. The exact movements of the single cutting tool are controlled by a stylist tracing over a template whose profile is the desired shaft profile. Tolerances are held between .001″ and .005″.

The newest addition to our production facilities is an automatic tape controlled jig mill which, because of its physical location, cannot be included in the tour. The machine movements are automatically controlled by a paper tape which is punched in accordance with dimensions required on the drawing. the bore size, depth and the distance between holes on either the PTO or the final drive housings are machined with tolerances held to .0005″.

Automatic Tape-Controlled Jig Mill

Gear Manufacture & Inspection

Allis-Chalmers Tractor Division takes pride in being able to manufacture the finest gears available for use in its product. A total of 47 machines are used to rough and finish cut, shave, hone and lap a wide variety of precision gears. Tolerances are held within .0003″ on the gear tooth profile to assure a perfect mesh.

Cutting Spiral Bevel Gear

The quality of our gears is constantly checked. Our gear lab technicians use the finest gear measuring machines available. The involute measuring machine can magnify the gear tooth profile 800 times to detect any minute variations. Machines for checking base pitch, tooth spacing, and accuracy of helical (spiral) lead are also used.

Honing Gear to assure accurate profile
Checking and recording gear tooth profile

Crankshaft Machining

The crankshaft is a vital engine part. consequently we machine our own from the rough forgings to the finished shafts. Fourteen operation which include turnings, grinding, drilling, tapping and polishing are necessary to completely machine the shaft. The crankshaft journals are polished–almost mirror smooth–down to an 8 micro-inch finish. The crankshafts are subjected to rigid inspection after they have been completely machined.

Grinding crankshaft journals

D-19 Assembly

Assembling torque housing to transmission housing

The personalized quality that went into the machining of parts and sub-assemblies is carried on in the final assembly of the tractor. Inspectors are stationed along the assembly line to assure that the assembly operations conform to our high standards. An overhead conveyor system delivers a continuous flow of sub-assemblies from their place of manufacture to the tractor assembly line.

Attaching engine to torque housing

After the main portion of the tractor is assembled, it is moved through a two-stage high pressure wash and rinse area. Then to the spray paint booths where the famous Persian Orange paint is applied. The enamel is baked on the tractor as it moves through the oven where the temperature is held between 180-200 degrees.

Final assembly prior to washing and painting
D-19 Tractor in paint spray booth

The tires, battery, grill, hood, lights, muffler, seat and decals are attached as the tractor moves out of the bake ovens. A calcium chloride solution is mixed at a central location and is piped to assembly lines where various size tires can be filled with a specified amount, ranging from 2.5 to 74 gallons.

D-19 Tractor at the end of the assembly line

The finished tractor is driven to the test and inspection area, where it is given a simulated road test. All gears and the brakes are tested as the rear wheels rotate on free wheeling rollers. The best possible performance is achieved by thoroughly inspecting each tractor and making final adjustments to assure unmatched reliability.

Tractor runs on rollers during final inspection

The quality and reliability of any tractor is highly dependent upon the workmanship that goes into its manufacture. We at Allis-Chalmers pride ourselves on the “Personalized Quality” each tractor receives. We are constantly striving to improve the quality and reliability of each tractor. We feel that each satisfied customer is another salesmen for Allis-Chalmers.

Tractors being shipped to branches and dealers


4 thoughts on “Allis-Chalmers Tractor Plant”

  1. @Dale – heh, never thought about fuel efficiency when thinking about farm tractors! 🙂 Diesel power!

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