The Allis-Chalmers Manufacturing Co. of West Allis, WI was an American manufacturer with diverse interests, perhaps most famous for their bright orange farm tractors. The company eventually divested its manufacturing businesses and today is known as Allis-Chalmers Energy based in Houston, Texas. Micki Hidayatallah is the current Chief Executive.


Allis-Chalmers first entered the manufacturing business in the 1840s. While originally incorporated in Delaware, the company soon became a major manufacturer in the Milwaukee area after merging with other firms--Fraser & Chalmers were a large steel and mining retort manufacturer. The company's presence in Milwaukee became so large that its plants were once used as a landmark there, and, in particular, its "west" plant lent its name to the city of West Allis. Allis-Chalmers entered into the farm equipment business in 1914 at about the time of the First World War. The company would also play a major part as a manufacturer in the Second World War building pumps for uranium separation as part of the Manhattan Project and building electric motors for U.S. Navy submarines.

The company introduced a number product lines including Agricultural Tractor, Implements, Industrial Tractor, Gleaner Combines, Hydroturbines, Valves and Pumps, Compressors, Electric Motors, Crushing and screening equipment, Comminution, Air Purification, Coal Gasification and Simplicity Garden Tractors.

A series of acquisitions were made by the company beginning in 1928 with the acquisition of Monarch Tractor Company. In 1931, the company acquired Advance-Rumely based in LaPorte, Indiana. Buda Engine Co., based in Harvey, Illinois was acquired in 1953. Two years later the company acquired Gleaner Harvester Co., and in 1959 it acquired the French company Vendeuvre. Allis-Chalmers also acquired Simplicity, which was later sold to its management in 1983.

The company began to struggle in the 1980s in a climate of rapid economic change. It was forced amid financial struggles to sell its farm equipment division to K-H-D (Klöckner-Humboldt-Deutz) AG of Germany in 1985, the owners of Deutz-Fahr, which was renamed Deutz-Allis. Deutz-Allis later was sold to management and became what is now the AGCO Corporation (AGCO), and tractors were sold under the AGCO-Allis name - though later this became just AGCO. What remained of the manufacturing businesses were dispersed in 1998 and the company officially closed its offices in Milwaukee in January 1999 The remaining service businesses became Allis-Chalmers Energy in Houston, Texas.

It was recently announced that Briggs & Stratton Corp. (BGG) is restoring the Allis-Chalmers brand to the lawn and garden industry with two new lawn tractors. Available at Simplicity dealerships beginning this fall, the new tractors harken back to the glory days of the Allis-Chalmers farm tractor. The design of the new AC130 lawn tractor is reminiscent of these products, leaning heavily on the familiar orange color and distinctive Allis-Chalmers logo. It will be available in two versions: a 23-hp unit with 42-inch mowing deck and a 24-hp tractor with a 46-inch mowing deck. Both lawn tractors will feature a Briggs & Stratton V-Twin engine and will be sold in a price range of about $1,800 to $2,000.

Agricultural machinery

Allis-Chalmers offered a complete line of agricultural machinery, from tillage and harvesting to tractors.


In 1965 Allis-Chalmers built "Big Allis" or Ravenswood No.3, the biggest generator of its time. It's located in Queens NY and the total output is 1000 MW. It is still operational today.

Fuel cell golf carts

In 1965 Allis-Chalmers built hydrogen fueled fuel cell golf carts.

Tractor models

  • United, introduced 1929, renamed to the Model U. First tractor with optional low pressure pneumatic tires.
  • Model B - a small tractor in the 20 hp class popular in the United Kingdom, introduced in 1937. Around 125,000 produced.
  • Model WC manufactured from 1933 to 1948 was a 28 horse power tractor, and had the most production number of all the tractors Allis Chalmers produced
  • Model C - two-row cousin of the Model B, introduced in 1940.
  • Model G - an unusual cultivation tractor. Rear mounted engine gave excellent view of delicate seeding and cultivation work.
  • Model WD - early models were made to pull a two bottom plow and had a straight gear shift, while later models had more power and could pull a three bottom plow (and also saw the implementation of a constant mesh transmission with the crooked gear shift lever). This design was improved upon to make the WD-45.
  • Model WD-45 - perhaps the most significant tractor developed by Allis-Chalmers. This is the first model with a diesel engine and power steering available as options. Introduced in 1953.
  • D Series - New generation with remodeled, more stylish features and most famous for the introduction of the Power Director 2-range hand clutch
  • Hundred Series - Very square sheet metal with many modifications, but mechanically influenced by the D series tractors.
  • 7000 Series - Entirely new generation of large tractors - first series with fully integrated factory cabs
  • 8000 Series - Most modern generation of AC tractors - produced up until 1985. Based heavily on 7000 series.
  • 6000 Series - Mid-size tractors. A 6070 was the last ever AC tractor off the line in 1985.
  • 5000 Series - Small size tractors (max 50 HP)
  • 4WD/Articulated Tractors - Several generations, each one designed to match the smaller series tractors during the same time frame. (7000 series, 8000 series, etc)
    • Sugar Babe/T16 -
    • 440 4WD - (built by Steiger)
    • 7580 -
    • 8550 -
    • 4W-220 -
    • 4W-305 -
  • They also had a garden tractor series

In 1959, a team led by Harry Ihrig built a 15 kW fuel cell tractor for Allis-Chalmers which was demonstrated across the US at state fairs. This system used potassium hydroxide as the electrolyte and compressed hydrogen and oxygen as the reactants. The original AC fuel cell tractor is currently on display at the Smithsonian.


Roto Baler - forerunner of today's round balers. The first model introduced in 1949. In the 1950's Allis Chalmers made a new Roto Baler called #10 Roto Baler. In this model the operator did not have to stop the tractor to allow machine to tie bale. It was equipped with an upper conveyor that would feed the hay back into the windrow. The #10 Roto baler was also equipped with a fast tie clutch. It allowed the bale to be tied in as little as 3 seconds. Later models were nicknamed white tops when the factory started painting the top canopy white. These were manufactured from 1949 to 1974.

Tractor parts

AGCO is now the parts manufacturer for everything one would need to fix up their older Allis-Chalmers tractors, including water pumps to oil filters, and even rebuild kits and tractor manuals. Many aftermarket suppliers offer parts for the older models.

Military machinery

See also


Further reading

  • . A memoir by a man who worked for Allis-Chalmers company for over 30 years as a sales representative and sales manager.

External links

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