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Was This the First Riding Garden Tractor?
Unlike their bigger brothers, little is known about the early development of garden tractors. These lilliputian mechanical horses first started appearing in the early 1920s, essentially a stationary engine mounted on a boxed frame with a simplistic belt-driven transmission and plow handles for steering by the operator walking behind the machine.
In 1919, the Central Tractor Company of Greenwich, Ohio, opted to build a better mousetrap by fashioning a garden tractor that pulled a sulky cart, which offered a seat for the operator and attachment points for various implements.
The Centaur model A was powered by a New Way 6-hp. air-cooled engine. Power was transferred with a chain to a transmission that offered both a single forward speed and reverse. The differential was mounted in the left front-wheel-drive sprocket.
This model certainly represented the state of the art for garden tractors at the time. Central Tractor wasn’t satisfied, though, and it set about creating what must be the first riding garden tractor with the 1926 introduction of its model G 6-10 (shown in the ad above).
Gone was the sulky. It was replaced with a dedicated articulated pivot point that employed rack-and-pinion steering. Implements (10 different implements, including a sickle mower, were offered) mounted to a bar steel bracket located beneath the driver.
The model G was as feature-rich as any large tractor of this time. It offered a two-cylinder 10-hp. LeRoi engine with automatic governor and large Pomona air washer, an optional front-mounted belt pulley, and wheel extensions.