You are here
When tractors went WEIRD
The basic configuration of the tractor hasn't changed much in the last century. But, a phase in the early 1900s saw some major design changes -- some good & some bad -- but very few of these changes survived. See a few examples here by Successful Farming Machinery Director Dave Mowitz.
This Victor tractor sold briefly in 1919 bucked all traditional design and utilized a 6-foot-tall rim with a 2-speed transmission. The wheel had internal ring gears driven by roller pinions.
This Ford Model B, sold in the mid-1910s, actually inspired the founding of the Nebraska Tractor Test because it was so poorly designed. It's one of several machines built during that era on which the engine was placed between the 2 large front wheels opposite a small single rear wheel.
The Moline Universal D of the 1920s was a truly pioneering machine. It was the first tractor to use articulated steering, an electric starter, electric lights and an electric governor. Its drive wheels were in front, meaning the implement was often directly under the machine and the operator behind the rear wheels.
The Little Bull was the first tractor to utilize a single rear-drive wheel. It also eliminated the need for a differential to power its drive wheel, which was 14 inches wide.
How about Gray's Drum Drive Model B? It led a group of drum-drive tractors introduced in 1916 and 1917. This model had a 48-inch-wide drum wheel that Gray boasted would basically eliminate compaction and "put all the power from the engine to work from farmers."
The Emerson-Brantingham Model L, like the Little Bull, featured a single rear wheal on the right side of the operator, with a wheel to the left of the operator serving as a stabilizer and idler.
Want more Ageless Iron? Check out an exclusive video clip and learn more on how to subscribe to the Ageless Iron Almanac and buy more classic iron books and collectibles!
Tractor design took quite a departure from the norm in the 1910s (photos, info by Dave Mowitz).