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Four-wheel-drive pioneers

The concept of a four-wheel
drive tractor, even one that was articulated, is certainly not a new concept.
Olmstead and Nelson introduced the first four wheel drive tractors in 1912
followed by Morton (1920), Wilson (1922), Wizard (1929), Fitch Four Drive
(1929) and Massey-Harris (1930).

In the mid-1930’s Albert
Bonham started building four-wheel-drive tractors in Clinton, Utah. Later that
tractor was built Eimco Corporation which was later acquired by Harris
Manufacturing which built its first Power Horse to be tested in 1954.

The Power Horse steered like
a crawler tractor skidding to the side. Two control levers pulled back about
halfway would stop the tractor. Pulling the levers further back cause the
tractor to reverse. If one lever was used the tractor could be turned by
releasing the power on that side.


Look at photos of the four-wheel-drive pioneers!

However, if you were farming
in 1950 and needed serious pulling power, the best you could do was a rumbling
93 horsepower Cat D8 crawler. In comparison, wheel-type tractors rarely
exceeded 50 hp. The 1950s would change all of that and with lightning speed.
The catalyst for this transformation was farmers’ desire to lug larger and
wider implements

The stage was now set for
the 4WD to come into its own!

The modern four-wheel-drive
age truly began with some experimental work conducted by the Wagner Brothers of
Portland, Oregon. After 16 years of development they announced their first four-wheel
drive tractor, featuring a unique center-pivoting articulated steering, in
1953.

While the Wagner was being
evaluated, a farm family in Northwest Minnesota decided they could build a
four-wheel-drive. Using available parts from various sources, the Steiger family
fashioned the Model 1, a 15,000-pound machine that turned out a whopping 238
horsepower!

Major tractor manufacturers
took note of the Steiger development. By 1959 John Deere responded with the
8010 Diesel, a four-wheel-drive tractor built for them by Wagner Tractor with
an estimated 215 horsepower.

IHC responded to Deere’s challenge
in 1961 with their 214-hp. Model 4300 Diesel. Soon Case, Minneapolis-Moline,
and Oliver brought out 4WD models. And an entirely new name in the industry
would appear. Versatile began building 4WD machines in 1966.

Two years later the 300-hp.
bar would be cleared with the introduction of the Big Bud HN 250 Diesel. Today
the Big Bud’s then mighty 310-hp. rating is about average. In 2008, AGCO’s
Challenger division introduced its Model 850, which generates a massive 570 hp.

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