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A jet-powered tractor?

Few experimental tractors were as idiosyncratic as Ford's Typhoon. Strictly a research project, the Typhoon featured a free-piston gas generator and a gas-driven turbine engine installed in a modified Model 961. This design employed two pistons, one at each end of a single 3 3/4-inch-diameter cylinder.

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As they moved toward each other, the cylinders covered the intake ports and exhaust ports, similar to a 2-cycle engine. When the air between the 2 pistons was compressed enough to reach combustion temperature, fuel was injected into the cylinder for a combustion cycle that caused the two pistons to move outward.

But the pistons didn’t drive the tractor. Instead, the exhaust they created ran a turbine that drove double-reduction gears, which were connected to main and auxiliary drives. The auxiliary drive operated a hydraulic pump and PTO. The main drive (reduced 5,600-to-1 in first gear) propelled the tractor. And, boy, did it propel. Capable of generating 100-plus horsepower, engineers in charge of the project limited power output to 50 horsepower. When Ford sent the only 3 Typhoons ever built on tour during the summer of 1957, each one must have been crowd-pleasers. Their turbines, running at 15 to 25 PSI of pressure, idled at 10,000 RPM. Under full load (rare in public), their engines reached 45,000 RPM.

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Marvin Baumann, Monroe, Michigan, discovered that the only original Typhoon in existence sat in a Ford warehouse until 1978, when it was carted off to a metal recycling dumpster.

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