C. H. Parr

C. H. Parr

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R. R. 4, Huntington, Indiana 46750

Having farmed with Hart Parr tractors for a number of years, I feel qualified to write on the subject. First let me tell a few stories. I was in town once and called on the Hart Parr dealer. He said to me, 'I have in trade a 16-30, about five miles from you. I have sold the magento off of it, but you can have the rest of it for $25 and it runs good. I gave him a check right away and went home and got an extra magneto and went and got it and drove it home. I learned afterwards the man had traded it in on a Row Crop tractor. It was a good tractor and I used it a couple of years and sold it for $150.

In our town was a large junk yard. When I was in town I usually went around looking for cast-off goodies. One day there set a nice 12-24 Hart Parr with good paint, and it turned over, so I went to the office to see about it. He said it ran good and that it was a shame to cut it up and if I got it out of there by noon I could have it for $55. Boy, did I move fast! I went right across the street and borrowed a truck from an implement dealer and took it to a new home where it is yet to this day. After dinner I hooked it to a two-bottom sixteen Oliver plow that I had paid $35 for and went right to work. I used it whenever I needed it, and still have it in my museum along with a Hart Parr Row Crop.

Those were the days, believe me! We were not ashamed to use a two or three plow tractor and didn't feel we always had to keep ahead of our neighbors, even though we were selling milk for $2.00 and corn for a dollar a bushel. We made do with what we had and were happy doing it.

C. W. Hart and C. H. Parr met as students at the University of Wisconsin. As a class project they built a gasoline engine that worked and is still on display in the college museum. With such success, they decided to go into business making and selling gasoline engines. They formed a company with C. W. Hart as president and C. H. Parr as secretary and A. E. Ellis as vice president. The latter was a banker at Charles City, Iowa who backed them.

In 1897 they started building oil engines and continued until 1905. In the meantime they were experimenting with tractors, and they came out with their first tractor in 1901, more about that later.

Hart Parr can be credited with a number of firsts: 1900 First oil-cooled engine ever made. 1902 Developed a valve-in-head engine. 1904 A method of burning kerosene and low grade fuels for power. 1904 Magneto Ignition for tractors. 1905 Force feed lubrication for tractors.

Even Cyrus McCormick in his book 'The Century of the Reaper,' gives Hart Parr credit for the first to produce a tractor in mass production.

1901,  #1 tractor was a 17-30 two cyl. 9 X 13 at 250 R.P.M. sold to a man in Iowa who used it seventeen years with very little trouble.

1902,  #2 a 22-45.

1903,  #3 a 18-30 10 X 13 at 350 rpm. 15 tractors made in 1903, some were 22-45's. Of the fifteen tractors made in 1903, six were still running in 1928.

1907-1917, Old Reliable 30-60, 10 X 15 at 300 rpm. They discontinued this size in 1917 for two reasons; World War I caused a shortage of steel and the demand for big tractors was over. Several other companies were making big tractors and the market was loaded. Part of the plant was turned over to the government for making munitions.

By 1915, 5,500 30-60's had been sold; 400 in 1910 and 400 in 1914.

1909-1912, 15-30 2 cylinder vertical 8 X 9 at 500 at 500 RPM, three wheeled.

1908-1914, 40-80 4 cylinder horizontal opposed 9 X 13, 400 rpm three wheeled. Non-removable head. Valves in cage. Rear wheels 96' tall, wt 36,200 #. Would develop 100 H.P. - Less than 100 built.

1910-1912, 60-100 4 cyl. vert. largest tractor ever built at that time. Very few built. I know one got into the state of Washington.

1911-1913, 12-27 Row Crop 1 cyl. Vert, three wheeled.

1912-1914, 20-40 Steel King 2 cylinder Vertical 8 X 12 at 400 rpm, three wheeled.

1913-1915, .18-35 Oil King 1 cylinder vertical 10 X 10 at 500 rpm, three wheeled; 250 sold in 1914 and 300 in 1915 at $1,800.00, wt 11,400#.

1919, 18-35 Road King 1 cylinder vertical, three wheeled. An improved Oil King.

1915, 1,500 men employed at the Charles City plant.

1914-1916, Little Devil 15-22, 2 cylinder 2 cycle 5?  X 7 at 500-750 rpm

Of all the tractors Hart Parr ever built, the Little Devil was the nearest to being a failure. They just didn't sell. I can well remember seeing them at tractor demonstrations. They had the fastest plowing speeds at the show and they made the most noise. It was unique in that it had no valves, no transmission, no differential. Valve ports in the cylinder walls were operated by the up and down motion of the piston. Reverse motion was obtained by reversing the engine at slow idle speed. One wide rear wheel, so no differential was required. Speeds of 2 3/8 to3 1/3 M.P.H.

Hart Parr's were noted for their longevity. In 1903 15 were made and by 1928, six were still in operation. Number nine was sold to Jerry Landis of Brookville, Ohio and twelve years later he wrote the factory and said he was still using it. Hart Parr built the gearing extra strong for plowing. That was the weakest part of most of the early tractors.