In the Summer of 2001, a buddy (and co-worker at the time) of mine was driving along Rt 68 in Canton NY and spotted this tractor with a “For Sale” sign on it. He did exactly what any Old Iron collector would (Mark is really into old Indian Motorcycles, and has one of the finest Indian 4s to be found). He bought it for me, and told me about it later.
It was in rolling, but not running condition. The magneto was in a bucket, in pieces, with 2 other disassembled magnetos. Everything else was there and assembled.
The current owner, and brother of the original builder of the tractor, told me the LeRoi was built to skid logs on their wood lot.
It is made from a variety of old car parts. The engine is a twin Cylinder LeRoi. It has a single flywheel on the front, and a gear reduction unit on the back. The drive system is through 3 V-Belts and two 3-speed transmissions. The belts can be disengaged and act as a clutch, operated by a foot pedal. For a while I ran the LeRoi on a modern ignition system using GM/Delco ignition coils, electronic ignition module and crankshaft position sensor. While it provided nice, hot, consistent spark, it really did look out of place on an old engine. So, over the winter I purchased a book on American Bosch Magnetos and decided to learn how to fix them. The day after Christmas I had hot spark from my mag, and bolted it to the LeRoi. Several botched attempts to time the engine nearly resulted in a broken arm, but I figured it out eventually.
The cooling system consists of a nice brass LeRoi radiator, and thermosyphon coolant flow. There is a radiator fan powered by a flat belt.
It has a fully enclosed crankcase, and holds about 3 quarts of oil.
I don’t believe the carburetor or magneto are original. The carburetor is a bit large for an engine of this displacement, and it has trouble running at low speeds as a result. There is a brass adapter made for the Bosch AB Magneto, and as you can see in the picture, it looks pretty big sitting there on the engine.
The LeRoi starts easily and runs well. I use it regularly to move stuff around the yard. It also came in handy when we were hit with a windstorm. I used it to drag lots of downed trees and branches. It suffers from low traction, but definitely not low torque.
The original builder of the tractor took care to include many features that you might find on commercially available tractors. The seat is adjustable for height, and distance from the controls. There are rear hydraulic brakes, with a locking device to hold them on, throttle controld near the steering wheel, and a kill switch available to the driver. The only thing obviously missing are footrests. The bottom of the tractor is generally open, with the driver’s feet dangling not far from many moving parts.
The multiple transmission configuration on this tractor makes many people refer to it as a “Doodlebug”. I’m not sure if that’s simply a regional name, or whether that term is more wide spread. Any feedback on that is welcome.