W. C. Matteson and His Flexo-Track-Tor

Headless Witte

Headless Witte owned by Otis Hardy

Floyd Schmall

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The California Antique Farm Equipment Show held in Tulare, California on April 21-22, 2001, was unbelievable! There were 378 entries in Saturday's parade! When you can bring collectors and organizations all together in one place with fantastic brilliant people, the magic of this event seems miraculous. It is almost hard to put into words. Enjoy the pictures courtesy of Floyd Schmall, 55235 Peach, Fresno, CA 937250.

1919 Flexo-Track-Tor, drawbar HP 20, belt 40HP, Matteson Mfg. Co., Stockton, California. Read more about this tractor inside.

A recently uncovered discovery, a 1919 Matteson Crawler, was on display at the California Antique Farm Equipment Show in Tulare, California (see back cover). Floyd Schmall kindly sent us photos and historical background on this unusual tractor.

Walter C. Matteson, of Stockton, California, was president of the Matteson Manufacturing Company and designer and inventor of the Flexo-Track-Tor. His father was a senior member of the Matteson and Williamson Manufacturing Company, which specialized in the manufacture of harvesters, plows, and other farm implements.

W. C. Matteson had 40 years of practical manufacturing experience; most of it as master mechanic and designer for Matteson and Williamson. Based on his years of study and experience, he designed the Flexo-Track-Tor.

Before beginning actual construction, W. C. submitted his drawings to a consulting engineering firm which checked each part with reference to the strains it would be called upon to bear under the most severe conditions. Confident that all engineering standards had been addressed, Mr. Matteson personally supervised the construction of the first tractor.

The outstanding design feature of the Matteson tractor was in the unit construction of its main body. This method of construction differed from other tractors on the market in the fact that a single steel casting was used, which not only formed the gear transmission housing and the motor support, but also composed the entire frame or body of the tractor. This integral point of construction assured greater rigidity under severe strain and also eliminated the costly assembly of numerous beams or channels generally in use in tractors of the day. The result was a more or less flexible and springy foundation for the driving mechanism.

Its designer specifically claimed for it the following points. First: it was made of high grade electric steel castings; second: every part was accessible to the operator; third: it was of small unit construction and had an abundance of power; fourth: it was of superior construction.

The track used on the Flexo-Track-Tor was also of special design. It had no points of similarity with the tracks of other track-laying machines; the track links were reversible and interchangeable and were made of manganese steel. They were easy to take off and put on, would not jump the track, and were suspended from a truss. Assembly was accomplished with the use of very few bolts. The tractor was flexible and would follow the contour of the ground. It utilized a four cylinder vertical Waukesha motor with a Bosch high tension impulse starter magneto. It had a 20HP draw bar and a 40HP belt.

Before the tractor was presented to the public it was placed in operation on the ranch of Ralph Lucas, one of the directors of the company and a long time farmer. For four months the Flexo-Track-Tor was used for all aspects of daily farm work.

Based on its performance on the Lucas ranch, the company felt justified in claiming that 'it is the simplest, most efficient, and most durable tractor that the market has yet produced.'