You are here

A jet-powered tractor?

Few experimental tractors were as idiosyncratic as Ford's Typhoon. Strictly a research project, the Typhoon featured a free-piston gas generator and a gas-driven turbine engine installed in a modified Model 961. This design employed two pistons, one at each end of a single 3 3/4-inch-diameter cylinder.


As they moved toward each other, the cylinders covered the intake ports and exhaust ports, similar to a 2-cycle engine. When the air between the 2 pistons was compressed enough to reach combustion temperature, fuel was injected into the cylinder for a combustion cycle that caused the two pistons to move outward.

But the pistons didn’t drive the tractor. Instead, the exhaust they created ran a turbine that drove double-reduction gears, which were connected to main and auxiliary drives. The auxiliary drive operated a hydraulic pump and PTO. The main drive (reduced 5,600-to-1 in first gear) propelled the tractor. And, boy, did it propel. Capable of generating 100-plus horsepower, engineers in charge of the project limited power output to 50 horsepower. When Ford sent the only 3 Typhoons ever built on tour during the summer of 1957, each one must have been crowd-pleasers. Their turbines, running at 15 to 25 PSI of pressure, idled at 10,000 RPM. Under full load (rare in public), their engines reached 45,000 RPM.


Marvin Baumann, Monroe, Michigan, discovered that the only original Typhoon in existence sat in a Ford warehouse until 1978, when it was carted off to a metal recycling dumpster.

Read more about