BIG 4 DRAWS BIG INTEREST


January/February 1982
Add to My MSN

1910 Big Four '30' 4 cylinder vertical 30 HP engine. Eight-foot drive wheels. Attachment on front of tractor is a self-guide device. The small wheel in front, which is attached by suitable rods to front axle drops into last furrow cut and keeps


Content Tools

Related Content

Sniffing the Gasoline

The shimmer of sun on leaf

Stories of Dedication: Keeping the Hobby Alive

Engine collectors share stories of dedication to the hobby in this issue of Gas Engine Magazine.

Heartland Acres Tractor Ride Returns in 2012

The Heartland Acres Tractor Ride is on again for 2012.  Mark your calendars for Saturday June 9, 201...

Any Information on This Gas Engine?

Reader Larry Helwig is looking for more info on this gas engine that has "OS Kelly Western" cast int...

How many readers of this magazine have Big-4 tractors in their collections?

Either there are many who do, or the number is small, but very vocal.

The reason we say that is the response to an article by Carl M. Lathrop in Iron-Men Album, which appeared in the September-October issue of 1980. Carl, a consulting engineer who is a frequent contributor, said he had never received more 'fan' mail than he did for this.

Since the Big-4 is a tractor and not steam-powered, we are publishing this article in GEM and welcoming further replies.

Carl, in his article, said there were only three 'Big 4' tractors remaining in the United States. The one he wrote about particularly was at Monticello, Utah.

Blaine Griggs, Rt. 3, Nevada, MO 64772, wrote to make a correction. He listed a total of 16 in existence, including the one at Monticello. His owners list follows:

Harold Ottoway, Wichita, KS (two); Clarence Butler, Parshall, ND; Milton Ayers, Madison, SD; Krumweide Tysse, Voltaire, ND; Sedburg, Anderson & Gustafson, Fargo, ND; Stuhr Museum, Grand Island, NE; Jim Rathart, Forman, ND; Oscar Cooke, operator of Oscar's Dreamland, Billings, MT (two); Western Development Museum; Saskatoon, Sask., Canada; Reynolds Museum, Wetaskiwin, Alberta, Canada; Palmer Anderson, Glenham, SD; Krumweide & Tysee, Crosby, ND; John Hall, Cap Girardeau, MO; Chamber of Commerce, Monticello, UT.

Robert Worbois, of North Huntingdon, PA, sent Lathrop a copy of a 1913 Big 'Thirty' catalog which contains many good illustrations plus other valuable information. Lathrop sent this on to us.

Consulting books on tractors, we found that the 'Big Four' dates back to experiments started in 1899 by D. M. Hartsough, whose first product was a one-cylinder, 8 HP outfit. At that time, the automobile was beginning to make headway as a replacement for the horse in transportation.

Hartsough wanted to find a substitute for the draft horse, to 'pull a heavy load slowly rather than a light load swiftly', according to the catalog. The 8 HP engine was a failure; so was his next, developing 15 HP. Hartsough left the 15 HP engine with his son, Ralph, and set out on a tour of North Dakota to raise more funds. The catalog continues:

'After weeks of travel and many disappointments, he interested a few well-to-do farmers, who realized the need for some substitute for hobos and horses. These men put up the necessary money to build a few more engines, and the inventor started on experiment number three.'

That was abandoned for number four, which had four 4 x 5' cylinders. This was a real breakthrough-and hence the name.

Patrick J. Lyons entered the scene and the Transit Thresher Co. was formed. When Fred Glover joined, the name was changed to the Gas Traction Company.

The Emerson-Brantingham Co. bought out Gas Traction Company in 1912 and added the Big4 to its line. It built the Big 4 'Thirty' for several years. Later it became part of J. I. Case Company.

The Big 4 'Thirty' was noted for the self-guide device attached to the front, with an arrow on it, to keep the tractor in proper relation to prior furrows.

(For good reading on the Big 4, see: 'The Agricultural Tractor, 1855-1950,' compiled by R. B. Gray, and 'Encyclopedia of American Farm Tractors,' by C. H. Wendel, both of which are available from Stemgas Publishing Company.)


Previous | 1 | 2 | Next






Post a comment below.

 








SUBSCRIBE TO GAS ENGINE MAGAZINE TODAY!
First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
Country:
Email:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Gas Engine Magazine is your best source for tractor and stationary gas engine information.  Subscribe and connect with more than 23,000 other gas engine collectors and build your knowledge, share your passion and search for parts, in the publication written by and for gas engine enthusiasts! Every month Gas Engine Magazine brings you: restoration stories, company histories, and technical advice. Plus our Flywheel Forum column helps answer your engine inquiries!

Be sure to take advantage of the Square Deal Subscription Program.

  • No Missed Issues.

  • No Renewal Notices.

  • No Additional Cost.

The Square Deal Subscription Program is designed as a paperless transaction with automatic renewals at a preferred low rate.   With advanced electronic notification, a 100% satisfaction guarantee and an easy opt-out plan, the Square Deal Subscription Program is the best value, risk free, eco-friendliest way to subscribe.