Running with the Rumleys

Keith and I enjoyed the rumble of the Rumleys.
Keith and I enjoyed the rumble of the Rumleys.

The 2016 American Thresherman show in Pinckneyville, IL was filled with the rumbles of Rumley tractors and one very rare Rumley truck belonging to Mike Travis.  Rumleys along with Allis Chalmers were the featured brand.

I loved this amazing truck that Mike Travis brought to the show. Mike Travis Is from Corning, Iowa and he thinks his Rumley  truck is a 1924 model.  “Rumley started making the trucks in 1921.  I don’t believe they made them past 1927.  The trucks were made in Battle Creek, Michigan. As far as we know, this was the only vehicle that Rumley made.”

 The Travis Rumley truck is a family item.  “My dad, Marland Travis purchased it from a trader in Iowa.  He bought it around 2000 or 2002. It was missing the hood and wood when we got it.”

 This didn’t daunt Marland, he was able to locate a Rumley truck with an engine. A family friend Wayne Ebright restored the Rumley for the family.  “We did it after dad passed away in 2007,” Mike said.

 The truck is a 1.5 ton farm truck with the serial # 1.  The truck has a Buda engine. The wooden wheels were made by Hansen Wheel and Wagon shop.  “This was manufactured by Advanced Rumley.  The home office was located in LaPorte, Indiana.”

Besides the truck and other Rumleys, another find for me was the Rumley Light Plant.  Keith Kuhlengel of Palmyra, Pennsylvania brought this seldom seen Rumely light plant to the show.  This President of the Rumley Collectors Club whose day job is being a neurosurgeon said, “I just got it a year ago.”  

While the concept of Rumley producing a light plant is quite fascinating, what makes this even more riveting is that this particular light plant powered a cotton plantation in Omaha, Georgia along the Chattahoochee River. Keith said that this sounds impressive, but added, “It would run about 75 lights, but it would be at 8 candle powers which is not too bright.”

Keith didn’t know if the plantation is still standing, but what I would give to see a picture of the plantation lit with the Rumley Light Plant powering it up!   

“I bought this from an engine shop in Sholl, North Carolina. The owner had restored it for the former Georgia owner,” Keith said. “I found it two years ago for sale on the Internet.”

 The light plant still sits on the original oak skids and the entire plant is enclosed in a trailer so this makes it great for hauling and showing. “I added trailer brakes etc, to bring it up to specs,” Keith added.

The rumble of Rumley’s was the pull that beckoned me to Pinckneyville, where I was born this past August.  I must say, the machines are beautiful and move with a grace all their own.

Check out the American Thresherman’s next show and see what they pull out of their hat to bring us all to southern Illinois again!

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  1. George Schultz

    Absolutely awesome. Thank you for the
    Virtual tour and history lesson.
    It appears you are having lots of fun.

    1. Cindy

      Thanks George, it was awesome! More details about the Rumley’s will appear in my column in Farm World coming up.