Rarely does an engineering advance come along that has such an impact that it changes agriculture, let alone sets a standard for future tractor design.
Such was the case with Harry Ferguson’s Type A tractor.
Not that the Type A was an exceptional leap forward in tractor technology by itself, although it certainly was a solid machine. Rather, it was the device at work on the back of the tractor, a hydraulically powered three-point hitch, that made history.
For over 10 years, the marvel of the industrial revolution, Ford’s Rouge Plant outside of Detroit, had not built a single tractor. It kept turning out cars by the millions, but this plant had been home to the most successful tractor of all time – the Fordson.
Nearly 740,000 Fordsons exited the Rouge Plant’s doors until 1928 when its production stopped in the U.S., giving other manufacturers welcome relief. For the previous decade the tractor world consisted of Fordson and some other brands.
Certainly Allis-Chalmer’s purchase of Advance-Rumely in 1931 put that company on the map as a major manufacturer of farm equipment.
But Allis lacked a modern tractor to match the times. IHC had introduced their revolutionary Farmall in 1924 establishing the row-crop tractor as the future of horsepower.
The fixed front axle fleet Allis was sending to their dealers was losing ground to the Farmall. Management in Milwaukee – home base for Allis-Chalmers – was demanding a machine to put them back into the market.
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