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Department store tractors
Bradley General Purpose (Sears)
The Bradley General Purpose was one of the first tractors to feature variable trend construction using telescoping housing between the differential and final drives. The firm produced the Bradley for Sears, Roebuck & Co. which sold the tractor with a line of implements in their Midwest farm-specialty outlets for three years starting in 1933.
When Sears was looking to expand sales to farmers and was trying to find a full-featured tractor to sell under their Bradley brand, they struck a deal with Parrett Tractor Company. The Bradley was powered by either a Chrysler six-cylinder (as in this case) or a Hercules four-cylinder engine.
Frugal almost to a fault, the Economy tractor, sold by Sears, gave farmers just the basics. Its $595 price tag bought you a frame, engine, transmission, and steel wheels. Everything else was optional including lights, fenders, PTO, belt pulley, a heavy-duty cooling system and rubber tires.
Graham-Bradley 103 (Sears)
The 32 horsepower streamlined beauty was built by automotive manufacturer Graham-Paige for sale exclusively in Sears department stores. To be accurate, the actual manufacturer of the tractor was Graham-Bradley, which was a subsidiary of Graham-Paige.
David Bradley Tri-Trac (Sears)
The unique Tri-Trac was one of six garden tractors produced by David Bradley for Sears, Roebuck and Company. The Tri-Trac was unique in many ways featuring a “three-wheel steering” design that used a center articulating action.
David Bradley Handiman R-T (Sears)
Built by David Bradley Manufacturing and sold by Sears from 1938 until the 1950s, the Handiman was sold in three different 2-wheel models that include the B38 (2 hp.), C38 (3 hp.) and Z38 (4 hp.). The tractors were sold in a crate at Sears.
Gambles Farmcrest 30
The Gambles department store turned to Cockshutt to build their only entry in the tractor market.The standard transmission had four speeds of between 23⁄4 to 12 mph. However, an eight-speed attachment was available. The 3,609-lb. machine featured a live PTO and continuous-operating hydraulic pump as standard equipment.
Montgomery Wards competed with Sears in the tractor business with this powerhouse built for them by the Harry A. Lowther Company of Shelbyville, Indiana. The Model HR, built in the early 1950s, featured the unique Chrysler-built Gyrol Fluid Drive which was a variation on the torque converter.
Here is a collection of tractors sold in the same department stores that sell shoes and clothes. (text by Dave Mowitz)