Rumely Oil Pull Tractor, 20-40

In 1923, John Ploesch purchased this Rumely Oil Pull tractor for $4,000 from an Advance-Rumely dealer in Woodbine, Illinois. He arranged with neighbors to thresh their crops, organizing what was called a threshing ring that lasted until 1948. The Rumely Oil Pull was belted to the threshing machine that separated the grain. Threshing became a major social event for farmers, laborers, and their families.
The Rumely Oil Pull was the first tractor to use an oil cooling system, which kept the engine at a steady temperature no matter how heavy the tractor's load. The cooling system allowed hotter cylinders and easier ignition. The Oil Pull starts on gas but runs on kerosene, making it much lighter and easier to maneuver than its steam-driven predecessors. This Rumely Oil Pull weighs seven tons.
Rumely engineers also made space for an extra person in the tractor's cab, gave the operator a clear view in every direction, and placed all the mechanisms--gear shift, clutch, foot brake, steering wheel, carburetor, and more--in easy reach. These new design elements helped the Rumely Oil Pull to surpass most old kerosene tractors, and many of these features were further refined in gasoline-powered machines.
Because of their hot-riveted steel frame construction, Rumely Oil Pulls lasted through years of harvests. Some were still in use as late as the 1960s.
Currently not on view
Object Name
tractor, rumely oil-pull, model g, 20-40hp
date made
Advance Rumely Company
Miller, Ronald E.
Physical Description
cast iron (overall material)
steel (overall material)
wood (overall material)
green (overall color)
red (overall color)
yellow (overall color)
white (overall color)
average spatial: 108 in x 89 in x 175 in; 274.32 cm x 226.06 cm x 444.5 cm
place made
United States: Indiana, LaPorte
United States: Illinois, Geneseo
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
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Work and Industry: Agriculture
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of Wayman Cobine

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