The Bosse Project



The Bosse Project
Off the Hook
The Bosse Project
Clockwise from top left:
The distinctive looks of the
(a) “Super Banana” and
(b) “City Slicker” are
turning the heads of
a new generation of fans.
Next on the drawing board:
Reboots of the legendary
(c) “Banter Brown” and
(d) “Makin’ Bacon Special.”
photo by Dave Dann
Mike Ott and the fully restored
Bosse four-engine Modified are staged
in front of the grandstand at the 2013
Enderle Pull-Off in Urbana, Ohio.
(tractor photo by Dave Dann)
Story by Dave Dann
Mike bought the motors that still
existed. Some things were sunken into
the soil, such as the frame and rear
end. “I was fortunate to have acquired
almost everything as original.”
Everything was completely
disassembled in the Otts’ shop and
thoroughly rebuilt to the same exact
specifications and appearance as
when the Bosses finished competing
with it in 1978. “Every nut and bolt
was removed from front to rear. The
engines, as was the rearend, were
completely rebuilt.”
A pile of old photos was the
guideline by which to repaint the
tractor and make an exact replica.
Prior to disassembly, they precisely
measured the locations of each decal
so they could again place them in the
same spots. It was very detailed and
thorough restoration work. The only
things not original are the rear tires,
clutches and some safety equipment.
Many individuals helped; however,
there were three key players.
Phil Schalk, the owner of Riverside
Engine Inc. of nearby Tiffin, Ohio,
was very instrumental. In fact, when
the Bosses bought the engine parts
from Robert Yates (who at the time
worked for Holman-Moody, Ford engine
high-performance specialists) it was
Riverside Engine that assembled the
original motors. During the restoration,
Riverside performed all the machining
Mike Ott is the current president
of the Northwest Ohio Tractor Pullers
Association (NWOTPA). Commonly
known as the “Blue Shirts,” the group
promotes the annual National Tractor
Pulling Championships in Bowling
Green, Ohio.
Mike and his wife Nancy had plans
a few years ago to build and campaign
a Two-Wheel-Drive Truck with a partner.
For various reasons, the project started
but never came to fruition. Having
spent a considerable amount of his life
involved in pulling, Mike still wanted
to take on a new pulling project. After
taking some time to contemplate
their next move, the Otts decided to
start a unique adventure in restoring
a classic, early-NTPA championship
Modified tractor.
They knew the Bosse four-engine
tractor was sitting around, but they
were not certain where. After a few
inquiries, the tractor was found in a
junkyard an hour away from its original
home about five or six years ago. The
owners had bought the four-engine
Modified tractor from the Bosses with
intentions to pull it that never really
materialized. Then they started selling
off parts, mainly from the engines.
“It was in sad shape. All the
injection, carburetors, exhaust
headers, trophies and more were
found here and there, mostly in old
pickup truck cabs,” Ott recalled.
processes and Mike assembled the
motors. “Phil was a huge part in
implanting all the engine program.”
“A couple good friends, Doug
Wenig and Jeff Rathge, have been very
instrumental with helping me,” Mike
said. “Many others have stepped in
here and helped out.”
Mike, a Ford fan, visited the
Holman-Moody shop. One employee
has been there since 1965 and has
ground every camshaft. The guys
remember the Bosses and many
names of the top pullers from the era.
“They were the Roush [Performance]
of Ford back in the ’60s and ’70s.
Anything Ford performance went
through their Charlotte, North Carolina
shop. Robert Yates was their research
and development engineer.”
Last year, a group of the legends
tractors performed in Edon,
Wauseon, Napoleon, Attica, Ada and
Wapakoneta, Ohio and at Maumee
Valley Tractor Pullers Association
events. The same events are on the
2015 schedule along with the July
Greenville pull.
This group is currently in the
process of forming the National Tractor
Pulling Legends (NTPL). Several are
running Modified tractors, including
Carl Sweeney with a John Deere G with
a Hemi, Gary Grimm with his family’s
first turbine, Kevin Dick with Gaylord
Zechman’s single-Hemi-powered Mod,
Steve Schwartz with
Zechman’s twin-wedge
440 Dodge (a common
early-’70s tractor), Tom
Hileman with “Buckeye
Special” (which he pulls
in northwest Ohio and
northeast Indiana with
the Michindoh Pullers and
at other brush events),
and Lee Pendleton with
the transverse-mounted
Allison “City Slicker.” In addition, Tom
Arps has retrofitted the prototypical
Modified TWD “Black Widow” to its
original form.
Various projects are in-the-works,
with hopes of being out in 2015. Tom
Hileman is putting together an exact
replica of his dad’s (Dave) and uncle’s
(John) first “Buckeye Special” Mod and
Carl Sweeney is resurrecting a tankpowered Mod. Long-time NTPA tech
official, Scott Doty, plans to be out for
2016 with his late-’70s “Heartbreaker”
Mod. Larry McVey will refurbish the
original “Super Banana” Mod in honor
of his deceased dad, Lloyd, who pulled
it in the early ’70s. McVey helped set
the power trend and Mod vehicle style
to achieve in the young sport.
Once they are purchased, Bruce
Hutcherson’s first quad-engine “Makin’
Bacon Special” and the triple-stairstepped “Banter Brown” will be in
the infancy stages. They have been
located, but not in their original form,
thus many pieces, particularly for the
engines, need to be found.
There are plans to add early Super
Stocks as a few have expressed
interest. The most promising thus far
is Harold McQueen with his JD diesel.
“There are guys interested,” Ott said.
NTPA archive photo
photo by Dave Dann
NTPA archive photo
If you are interested in learning
“We just have to get them motivated
more about the Bosse Project or
to find the tractors and restore them to
becoming a member of the NTPL,
their originality.” Locating the vehicles
access the group through Facebook
requires asking plenty of questions,
(The-Bosse-Project) or contact Gregg
often about the most recent owner.
Randall, WPI/NTPA General Manager
“Part of the fun of the whole process is
([email protected]).
to find the tractor,” Ott shared.
Proven Engine Performance
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7381 South State Route 231  Tiffin, OH 44883
Phone (419) 927-6838  Fax (419) 927-6840

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