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Few farmers – and only a handful of antique tractor collectors – even recognize the Parrett name. Yet during the formative period of tractor development – from the early 1900s stretching into the early 1940s – engineer Dent Parrett’s innovative designs would have a huge impact on horsepower.
Dent Parrett began building tractors as early as 1911 (although there are indications he was involved even earlier than that) out of a shop located in Ottawa, Illinois. Soon the inventor would move to Chicago which would, more of less, remain his headquarters for the next decade.
What set the Parrett designs off from the competition of this era were their size. Comparable tractors were often twice, if not three- and four—times the size of Parrett machines yet only offered up the same amount of drawbar horsepower. Parrett recognized the need for lightweight and highly maneuverable tractors for small and mid-sized farmers to replace the massive steam traction engines. In 1916 he introduced the Parrett Model 12-25 which offered considerable more ground clearance than many other tractors of the time.
Parrett’s designs caught the eye of Massey-Harris. In 1918, Massey struck at deal with Parrett to bring Parrett-designed but Massey-labeled tractors to the market. This tractor, the Parrett 12-25, would be sold as the Massey-Harris #1 and #2.
But these steam lined machines were not enough for Parrett who fancied at tractor that could be used for both primary tillage, like plowing, as well as row crop work like cultivating. After all, he promoted his Model 12-25 as a tractor that could be used by “One Man” and for “All Purposes.”
Parrett set about engineering an all purpose machine while he was working for the Ross Carrier Company of Benton Harbor, Michigan. That tractor would be sold from 1928 to 1931 as the “Bradley” and through Sears Roebuck & Company stores with farm outlets.
The Bradley may have not beat out the 1925 introduction of the IHC Farmall Regular, recognized as the first all-purpose tractor. But it was a far more refined tractor than the Regular which also offered nearly twice the drawbar horsepower.
Parrett would go on to design tractors which sold under a wide variety of names including Coop, Custom. Graham-Bradley and Kaywood.