Part XVI

Avery Tractor

Courtesy of Rolland E. Maxwell, Route 4, Huntington, Indiana 46750

Rolland E. Maxwell

Content Tools

Route 4, Huntington, Indiana 46750

The question comes up as to what happened to all the companies that are listed as to having made, or having advertised for sale these Five Hundred different tractors. These fall under two heads; 1. Company failure, 2. Mergers. The first takes care of most of them. Company failures caused by poor engineering and designing, lack of financing, lack of sales due to lack of sales organization, etc, etc. Several other things came up that cannot be blamed on the companies, nor was it their fault. During World War I the government had clamped down on steel for things other than war use. In several instances, the factory might have been taken over for making things for the army. The Hart Parr plant was one of those. After the war Hart Parr kept going good until the merger.

After the war, the production of a lot of the larger tractors was discontinued, especially from 1917 to 1922. This was not so much due to the failure of the companies, as it was to getting the demand for them pretty well filled up, and the tendency for a better market for smaller three bottom tractors of lighter design. From 1917 to 1920 production stopped on Hart Parr 30-50, Big Four, Case 30-60, Gas Pull, Mogul 30-60, and Titan 30-60, plus Pioneer. As things picked up after 1922, these companies devoted their efforts to smaller tractors.

Smaller tractors quitting were Bull, Samson, Parrett, Bates, Gray, Bates Steel Mule, Moline Universal, Waterloo Boy, Avery 5-10, 18-36, Uncle Sam, Coleman, Int. Harv. quit making Titan 10-20, Mogul 10-20, Int. 8-16, and Int. 15-30.

1919 - A 25-50 Avery tractor 5-bottom Avery self-lift plow. Note furrow guide on tractor owned by Irvin W. Maxwell of Champaign, Illinois. They are plowing oats stubble for wheat.

While the period from 1910 to 1920 was the Romantic period of our early tractor life, it remains for the period of 1920 to 1930 to be that of the most productive and satisfying. We also had a period of mergers which made big ones out of the smaller ones.

Now we come to a period of mergers and consolidations. The Massey Co. and the Harris Co. had gotten together in 1891. Both had started about 1847, and were both engaged in the Mfg. of harvesting equipment, binders, reapers, rakes, etc. The Massey Harris Co. became larger with Mfg. plants and offices in Racine, Wis. and Toronto, Ont. Can. In 1928 Massey Harris took over the J.I. Case Plow Works of Racine, Wis., who since 1912 had been making the Wallis tractor. Wallis of the J.I. Case plow works was a son-in-law of J.I. Case. The J.I. Case Plow Co. is not the same as The J.I.Case Threshing Mach. Co. In this deal with Massey Harris, the J.I. Case Threshing Mach. Co. received the exclusive rights to the trade name of 'Case' and 'J.I. Case Co.' which they still use. Massey Harris later became Massey Ferguson which it still is today.

In 1928 the J.I. Case Threshing Mach. Co. bought out the Emmerson Brantingham Corp. of Rockford. III. Thus passed into history one of the oldest agricultural implement companies in the U.S. Started in 1852 by John Manny who was making reapers; later taking in Ralph Emmerson and Wait Talcott to form the Emmerson Brantingham Corp. In 1912 E-B bought Gas Traction of Mpls., makers of The Big Four tractors. Gas Traction started in 1908 by purchasing The Transit Threshing Mach. Co. who had started in 1906. In 1912 E-B also bought Geiser of Waynesboro, Pa., Reeves of Columbus, Ind., Rockford Engine Works of Rockford III. Later, they bought the Osborn line of Harvesting and Haying equipment from The Int. Harvester Co. They were incorporated for $50,000,000 and were really big.

In 1929 another major merger came about with the joining of the Oliver Plow Works of South Bend, Ind. formed in 1855; The Hart Parr Tr. Co. of Charles City, Iowa which was founded in 1897; The Nichols and Shepard Co. of Battle Creek, Mich, founded in 1897; also the American Seeding Mach. Co. of Cleveland Springfield, Ohio founded in 1848. In 1945 they got the Clevefand Tractor Co. of Cleveland, Ohio, the makers of the Cletrac crawler tractor.

In 1929 three of the old companies got together and formed the present Minneapolis Moline line. They were the Moline Plow Co. founded in 1914 and made the Moline Universal tractors from 1914 to about 1922, or some say 1924. The Minneapolis Steel & Mach. Co., founded in 1902 and the makers of the Twin City line of tractors. This company also built tractors under contract for several smaller firms, notably The Bull Tractor Co. It might be interesting to know that The International Harv. Co. bought the Moline Plow Co. plant, and they now make their Farmall line of tractors there. The third company was The Minneapolis Threshing Mach. Co. founded in 1887, and who first made a popular line of steam engines and threshing Machines and later the Minneapolis line of tractors of which the 22 - 44 and 35 -70 were popular. Minneapolis Moline is now owned by The White Motor Co.

In 1928 and 1929 a group of thirty companies organized the United Tractor & Equip. Co. of Chicago, 111., of which Allis Chalmers of Milwaukee, Wis. was one. They had total assets of over $50,000,000. They started building the United Tractor which Allis Chalmers took a contract to sell under the United name. This later was renamed the Allis Chalmers and became model U.

In 1936 The Duplex Mach. Co. of Battle Creek Mich. made the first COOP which was made for distribution through the Farmers Union Central Exchange Inc. St. Paul. Minn., and later the Farm Bureau Coop Assoc. Originally it was a three plow standard four wheel tractor with a 6 cyl. Chrysler engine. This was sold to National Farm Mach. Cooperative of Bellevue, Ohio, who made the E 3 and E 4. COOP Now owned by White Motor Co.

The Nebraska tests that started in 1920 really got rolling. The first tractor tested was a Waterloo Boy. A total of about seventy were tested that first year, 1920. This policing of the tractor companies had been needed for some time, and as the fly-by-night companies left the field, the tests tended to build up the confidence of both the farmers and the industry as a whole. Many tractors were made and sold before these tests and many of them would never have passed these tests.

This 55 bottom plow was demonstrated at Purdue University in 1911. It was pulled by three 45 HP Mogul International Tractors. They also built a 50 bottom plow pulled by three 30-60 HP Oil Pull Tractors. [They are pictured in the Jan-Feb. G.E.M. and the details can be read in March-April G.E.M. on page 26 by John Davidson]. It could possibly be they were demonstrated the same day. Mr. Davidson says he has no record of this one. If anyone should have a record of the 55 bottom plow, let's have it in the G.E.M. or I.M.A.

To get an idea as to the growth of the tractor industry, I have taken the following figures from the U.S. Department of Agriculture census taken from the nine best agricultural states of tractors on farms, not tractors manufactured -1920 - 198,468 tractors; 1925 -367,888 tractors; 1930 - 664,648 tractors.