D-19 Restoration

In 2006, my dad, brother and I decided to take up a new hobby. Dad thought that getting some old tractors and machinery might be fun, and we could use them to make some small food plots near our woods. He bought a 1962 Allis-Chalmers D-17 Series II and, although we never really intended to, we started to restore her. I was 15 years old at that time, and since then we’ve restored several Allis-Chalmers tractors and implements.

Dad bought this 1963 Allis-Chalmers D-19 gas tractor for $1,500 in 2007. The seller said that it was actually a combination of two D-19s that were put together to make one. The tractor was a great deal, but it needed a great deal of work. The rear main seal leaked, the power-director jumped out of high range, the PTO seal leaked badly, and the transmission needed some attention.

We moved the D-19 in the shop right after we finished our D-17. The first thing that we tackled was the transmission. The main pinion bearing was out, and it was making noises and metal filings were in the oil. Getting to this area of the tractor meant a complete tear-down of the transmission housing, which is something that most tractor owners cringe when they hear, but not us.

The most agonizing part of fixing the D-19 was removing the rear hubs from the axles. It took two weeks of torching them till they were cherry red and then hammering on them until they freed up. After we managed to get them off, it took us no time at all to get the transmission apart, fix it and put it back together again. The other issues were a quick fix, seeing as we had the opportunity to fix them on the D-17 prior tackling the D-19.

The last major problem we encountered was that the tractor had no oil pressure, as the rear main seal was worn out. We discovered the problem when we were working the tractor on our farm and engine oil started pouring out of the clutch inspection hole in torque tube. We ended up splitting the tractor again, after the restoration, in the same spot to replace the two seals for the clutch shaft. We learned after that to replace any seal we see when fixing a tractor.

In spring 2008, it was time to get really dirty. My job was to sand blast the entire tractor and all the sheet metal. For anyone that has done this job, you know how labor intense and dirty it really is. I had to be very careful not to get sand in any of the new seals or other areas where the sand could damage moving parts. To do this I used plastic bags and duct taped them to ensure a seal around the critical areas. It took a lot of hours and a lot of sand to get the tractor blasted, but getting the old paint and rust off would ensure a fabulous paint job. The next step was to prime and put the persian orange #2 paint on her.

For our painting booth, dad bought a car port and set it up in our shop with cut pieces of silo bags on the floor inside. We painted the main tractor and wheels first then got it out of the booth. We then built a rack to hold the smaller parts. My brother sprayed the fenders, hoods and all the other smaller stuff. When he finished painting, we could just disassemble the car port, box it up and store it until the next project we had.

We put the final touches on the D-19 in september 2008. This was when the tractor got decals, gauges and a new wiring harness. As we pulled it out of the shed for the first time, the tractor looked like brand new. A lot of the cosmetic parts that went into this tractor were bought from Steiner Tractor Parts. They offer a wide range of products for hobbyists restoring these old machines.

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At that time our line-up consisted of a D-10, D-14, D-15, D-17 and this D-19. After the D-19 we restored our D-14 and D-10. We did a few custom jobs on the side after that including a Minneapolis-Moline Jet Star 2 and a Farmall H. The D-17 and D-19 were recently sold and replaced with a 190XT Series III and an Allis-Chalmers 440. We really enjoy collecting and restoring these old machines and the best part is using them after they are all fixed and repainted. Collecting old farm equipment has been a really good father-and-sons project for us.

History of the Blatz Brewing Company

The Blatz Brewing Co. history can be traced back to 1846 in the young city of Milwaukee. The brewery grew as one of the big 4 of Milwaukee and made significant contributions to the city’s beer industry. Unfortunately, pressures of the changing times and competition shut down the brewery and led to consolidation with other big breweries. A few remnants still survive in the city remind us of this former brewing giant of Milwaukee.

Before it was the Blatz Brewery, it was called the City Brewery. The small brewing operation was started by German immigrant John Braun in 1846, the same year Milwaukee was established as a city. Braun called his brewery City Brewery and was originally located on Main and Division Streets (N. Broadway and E. Juneau Ave.). In 1848, ValentinBlatz moved to Milwaukee and acquired a job at City Brewery. Blatz, wanting to work for himself, saved $500 to open his own brewery, coincidently, right next door to City Brewery.

Blatz was doing alright on his own, considering there was a lot of competition in the early years in Milwaukee. In 1851, his former boss, John Braun, at City Brewery died. Blatz bought Braun’s brewery and merged the breweries together and also married Braun’s widow. His merged brewery employed 4 people and produced about 500 barrels of beer. Blatz continued to expand his operations by constructing additional buildings and room to meet demand for his beer.

Tragedy struck on August 25, 1873, when a fire broke out in the brewing complex and destroyed a significant part of the brewery. The loss accumulated to about $143,000 in damages and destroyed the malt house, engine building, and most of the main building of the brewery. Blatz, luckily, did not lose his stock of beer. He continued to distribute the beer he had in storage and began to rebuild his brewery. He commenced the rebuilding his brewery within 2 months after the catastrophic fire and by January 1874 reconstruction was completed.

In 1875, Blatz began pushing out Milwaukee’s first bottled beer! Blatz had been successfully been selling his beer in the Milwaukee area, but ran into issues when trying to sell nationally. Shipping his beer out-of-state in barrels was difficult, so Blatz contracted Torchiani & Kremer of Milwaukee to bottle his beer. That year Blatz had 6,000 barrels, which amounts to approximately 128,000 bottles, of beer bottled. His decision to bottle beer was a success. His yearly sales had increased and so did the amount of beer he bottled. Blatz even found his bottled beer winning some awards at the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exposition. Soon more breweries in Milwaukee would follow in his steps.

In 1889, Valentin Blatz incorporated his brewing interests (totaling $2,000,000) into the Valentin Blatz Brewing Company. Nearly 2 years later, Blatz sold his interests in the brewery to the Milwaukee and Chicago Breweries Ltd., which was owned by a group of British bankers. Blatz stayed on and served as the president of his brewery until his death in 1894.

Val. Blatz Brewing Co.

The famed brewery changed names again in 1927 to the Val. Blatz Brewing Co. and again in 1930 to the Blatz Brewing Co. Blatz’s sons, Albert and Valentin Jr., would also be involved with the brewery until their deaths in the 1920s. Albert served as the president after his father’s death and Valentin Jr. was the superintendent and vice president of the brewery.

The Blatz Brewing Company survived Prohibition years by producing candy, imitation beers and sodas. When Prohibition ended in 1933, Blatz Brewing Co., like other Milwaukee brewers, was exuberant of beers return and the chance to produce their trademark product once again.

Blatz survived a fire in 1873, that destroyed a significant part of the plant, and the dry years of Prohibition from 1920-1933, but more hard times were ahead. Blatz had grown significantly and was putting out over 1 million barrels a year from the 1940s and 1950s. By 1955, Blatz was in the top 4 of Milwaukee’s six breweries. What brought an end to the company was competition and the cost of production. In 1958, Pabst Brewing Company bought controlling interest of Blatz. By February 15, 1959, brewing operations had ceased at the Blatz brewery and production was moved to the Pabst brewery. Pabst encountered problems with anti-trust laws and was forced to sell and the G. Heileman Brewing Co. of LaCrosse, Wisconsin, took control of the Blatz brand.

Blatz Today

Today, Blatz beer is once again apart of the Pabst Brewing Co. profile. The former brewing complex that sprawled in the city of Milwaukee has been turned into stylish condominiums. This once major brewer has been reduced to a few nostalgic reminders. Blatz had forged a path and made a name for his brewery with only $500. He was the first to bottle his beer in Milwaukee and also the first to sell his beer nationally. Blatz established and ran his own carpenter shop, rail cars, cooper shops, machine shops , and a coal yard. He sold his business in 1891, but continued to preside over it until his death 3 years later. From 1891 to 1959, the Blatz brewery changed hands 3 more times before the brewery was shut down. Edward Landsberg bought controlling interest of the brewery in 1920. In 1943, control was shifted to Schenley Industries Inc., and finally to the Pabst Brewing Co. in 1958.

Similar fates befell on the other big contenders of Milwaukee. Miller Brewing Co. is the only surviving competitor of the once great Milwaukee breweries. Blatz, Schlitz and Pabst breweries have all been remodeled as residential and commercial lots.

For more information on the breweries of Milwaukee visit the Wisconsin Historical Society or the Milwaukee County Historical Society.

The Day Beer Returned to Milwaukee

Imagine a Unites States where beer and liquor are illegal. Your favorite brewery has been forced to close down or switch to making sodas, chocolates or other products. The only hard liquor you could wet your whistle with was made in a homemade still and you had to go into a secret bar called a speakeasy to get a drink. That is what the  United States was like from 1920 to 1933, during the duration of the Prohibition. Milwaukee, Wisconsin, was a city that had a tough time abiding by the 18th amendment. A city predominantly of German citizens and some of the biggest breweries in the nation which included Schlitz, Pabst, Blatz and Miller and thousands of taverns were forced to change products or be shut down.

Drunkards Progress

A temperance movement had been lurking in the U.S. for a number of years. Temperance reformers had been trying to rid society of the so-called evils associated with alcohol for many years. Its successful trial in the 1920s is arguably the result of anti-German sentiment that emerged during World War I. Beer was a symbol of being German and being German from 1914-1918 was a tough time. People argued why grains, that could be made for food for soldiers, were being turned into beer. Some people honestly believed the Germans were slowing the American war effort.

The famous Carrie Nation was a strong figure in the temperance movement. She would thunder into taverns or any establishment that sold alcohol and would proceed to destroy the stock and anything else in her way with a hatchet. The short fused temperance reformer declared in 1902 that  “If there is any place that is hell on earth, it is Milwaukee,” Nation said. ” You say that beer made Milwaukee famous, but I say it made it infamous.” Sadly, for Nation, she never saw lived to see the great attempt to ban alcohol.

On January 16, 1920, the Unites States had officially made it illegal to manufacture or sell alcohol. The 18th amendment, however, never addressed the actual consumption of alcohol. It was never illegal to drink alcohol, but some parts of the country interrogated those caught drinking and would demand to know who was manufacturing and selling it. Prohibition was called the “noble experiment” because it was ultimately an attempt that failed. It was nearly impossible to control the manufacture of alcohol, let alone shut down the thousands of illegal taverns where people could wet their whistle. The 1920s were the signature era of crime and rebellion. The famous gangsters made their debut and the Unites States seemed like a lawless place where criminals ran rampant, and what were they making their money off of? Yea, you guessed it, alcohol.

By 1930, the outlook in America was very grim. The stock market had crashed in 1929 and some people had lost everything. The roaring twenties had come to an abrupt end. People lost their jobs, homes and life savings. In 1932, Franklin D. Roosevelt came into the spotlight vowing to uplift the American people from the tought times. FDR was sworn into office in March 1933 and promised to bring prosperity back to the United States and give the American what he called the New Deal. One way to get people jobs and generate revenue was to repeal the 18th amendment and allow alcohol to flow freely again. The same month he was inaugurated, FDR pushed through congress and signed the Beer & Wine Revenue Act that spelled the beginning of the end of Prohibition. It essentially brought an end to the prohibition of beer.  FDR needed to get the country back on its feet and to do that the government would collect revenue from taxed alcohol. The official end to Prohibition came in December 1933, when the 21st amendment was ratified to repeal the 18th amendment.

Thousands Seeking Jobs at Pabst Brewing Co.
(Milwaukee Journal March 22, 1933)

President Roosevelt’s pro-beer agenda was music to the ears of many American that enjoy the drink, but it was a godsend to the breweries and people of Milwaukee. The March 22, 1933, issue of the Milwaukee Sentinel was humming with news of FDR signing the Beer and Wine Revenue Act ,which made anything under 3.2% potency legal. The newspaper was literally counting down the days when the favorite beverage could be brewed and sold in Milwaukee. There was even signs of economic recovery before it was even legal! Milwaukee papers exclaimed that workers were lining up at the breweries for jobs for the first time in 14 years. Breweries had to get a start on the process of brewing and bottling beer for zero hour on April 7.

Schlitz Trains Preparing for April 7th
(Milwaukee Sentinel April 5, 1933)

April 6, 1933, The Milwaukee Sentinel headlined “BEER HERE AT MIDNIGHT!”  and was followed by stories and information of what people were to expect. Something that struck me as very interesting was how a special case of beer was going to be flown out to Washington D.C. for President Roosevelt. The care-package had arrived in Washington at 12:05 am with a message that read: “Here’s to you-President Roosevelt. The first real beer in years!” I guess it was a way for the breweries of Milwaukee to say thank you to the man who put a city’s industry back on tap.

Loading the Trains Before Midnight at Miller
(Milwaukee Journal April 6, 1933)

Friday, April 7, 1933, beer made a triumphant return to the city of Milwaukee. The Milwaukee Journal headlined “Huge Midnight Crowds Hail Beer Here”.

100,000 Give Cheers as Breweries Open

City greets break in 14-year drouth with noisy public demonstrations; factory whistles shriek; downtown district packed; throngs watch rush of first shipments.

Milwaukeeans Celebrate the Return of Beer
(Milwaukee Journal April 7, 1933)

The great return of beer brought in a huge party in Milwaukee, one that I understand dwarfs current Milwaukee festivals. The papers said that people rushed to taverns to get their first taste of real beer (breweries were making near-beer drinks during Prohibition) in 13 years. The streets were pack with people and cars scurrying about in celebration. Reports were that parking spots were hard to come by. When zero hour came, WTMJ radio of Milwaukee was standing by the Blatz Brewing Company as the trucks were running and waiting for the shipments to be loaded and the trucks would be sent out.

First Cases of Blatz Beer Heading to Trucks
(Milwaukee Journal April 7, 1933)

The excited beer patrons rushed to the bars only to find them out of beer. There was a limited supply of beer at the newly opened taverns, which were unable to keep up with demand. Although, the crowd did not find it an inconvenience, they were just happy to be part of the celebration. Whistles from the breweries sounded for 10 minutes after the arrival of beer again, and the roar of the crowds chanting “WE WANT BEER!” kept up for just as long.

It had to be a sight to see that morning. Thousands of people gathering to celebrate the return of a drink, jobs and a city’s symbol. It was a one-of-a-kind celebration, literally. The Milwaukee Sentinel summed up the festivities with amazing visual words of what the mood was like in the great city of Milwaukee.

Gradually, as more and more beer reached the downtown area, bottles began to appear in the hands of the sidewalk throngs. Men and women waved brightly labelled bottles, tilted and drained them as they walked along, hustled and envied by those about them. The Mardi Gras spirit was everywhere apparent.
Beer was King, and received a royal welcome from Milwaukee.