This 3-1/2 H.P. Hercules engine

Vernice G. Cranfill

Content Tools

Route 4, Huntington, Indiana 46750

Successful old Tractors. In 1906 The Transit Threshing Machine Co. of Mpls. was organized to make self propelled Threshing Machines, but never did. In 1906 or 07 they contracted with the Diamond Iron Works of Mpls. to build 26 large tractors they called The Transit. Those apparently were not too successful and were not continued.

In 1908 they reorganized as the Gas Traction Co. In 1910 they came out with the Big Four '30'. A 1909 Threshermans Review ad listed the very first ones as 25 h.p., with 8' 'Drive Wheels'. These tractors went over big and were made through 1912. At that time they sold out to Emmerson Brantingham of Rockford, Ill. The Big Four '30' was really a 30-60. Used a four cylinder engine 6-1/2' cylinder cast separately. The engine set lengthwise of the frame, vertically and cranked in the rear with a bar. The drive pulley was also in the rear. This tractor pulled from 8 to 10 plows and won the gold medal at the Winnipeg contest in 1910 and 1911. Had 96' diameter rear wheels. This tractor was well received by the trade and there was a goodly number made and there are still a few around.

Emmerson Brantingham bought the Big Four the last of 1912 and in 1913 they came out with a Big Riur '20' really a 20-35 Model D. 4 cyl. vert, eng set in line. Used a four bottom mounted plow. Not too many were made as the company came out with the Reeves 45-65 which took their place. A lot of good came out of the Big Four '30', and for no longer than it was made they put out a lot of tractors. However I've been told Emmerson Brantingham did make up quite a few '30's after that.

In the latter part of 1912 Emmerson Brantingham bought out Gas Traction, Geiser Co. of Waynesboro, Pa., Reeves Co. of Columbus, Ind., and the Rockford Engine Works of Rockford, Ill.

In 1913 or 1914 E. B. Reeves made a Reeves 45-65, a 4 cyl. cross mounted vertical engine 7 1/4 x 8' with high drive wheels, costing $3680. Just how many, or how long they were made I don't know. They were last listed for sale in 1920, probably the last.

The old Minneapolis Threshing Machine Co. organized in 1887 and who were making steam engines and threshing machines, started on tractors in 1911. A Mar. 1911 issue of The Thresherman's Review said it was a 25-50 4 cyl. vertical set lengthwise of the frame between the rear wheels, with a square cooling tank with a round stack. In 1914 they were selling a 15-25 and 24-45 built similarly. In 1916 came a 40-80 4 cyl. 7 1/2x9 at 600 RPM Engine set horizontal and crossways and had two speeds.

This 3-1/2 H.P. Hercules engine was bought new December 23, 1927, from the Pickett Hardware Store, Greenfield, Indiana, for $85.00 and an old 3-1/2 H.P. United engine. It was used ten years to run a 32 volt light plant, pump water and a washing machine, also odd jobs. Original Wico magneto and the same points. It is in perfect running condition. Engine number, 361958.

Courtesy of Vernice G. Cranfill, R.R. #2, Box 250, Knightstown, Indiana, 46148.

In 1919 came their 22-40 4 cyl. 6x7 at 650 RPM Horiz. cross mt. Later it was raised to 22-44. Tublar radi. and fan. Also in 1919 came the 35-70. 4 cyl. Horiz. cross mt.engine. At first they were 7 1/2x9 at 500 RPM, later raised to 7 1/4x9 at 556 RPM Tublar radiator with fan. The 22-44 and 35-70 became very popular and there are a number of them still around today. I can account for twelve 22-44's, 26 35-70's and three 40-80's.

Nichols and Shephard of Battle Creek, Mich, who also made Steam engines and Threshing equipment started making tractors in 1912. A big 35-70 two cyl. twin, Cross mt. and Horiz. 12 1/2 x 14 at 300 RPM. Quite a tractor. A nice one is shown at Rollag, Minn. Think Norman Pross of Luverne, N.D. owns it. It is something to see run. I've been told only about 150 were made and about five are left. In 1912 they made a smaller version of the 35-70 which was a 25-50, two cyl. twin, horiz, cross mt. engine 9x12 at 375 RPM. About five of them left. In the early twenties, the company contracted with the John Lauson Co. of New Holstein Wis. to build a smaller size tractor for them using four and six cyl. vertical in line engines.

In 1905 The Russell Co. of Massillon, Ohio bought a tractor at a show in London, England, brought it home and patterned a tractor from the best parts of it. In 1909 they made a 20-40 HP three cyl. vert. eng. 8x10 at 350 RPM. It weighed 17, 150 pounds and had just one wheel in front. They took this to the Winnipeg show in 1909 and won a silver medal. It was re-rated to a 20-44. In 1911 Russell built a 30-60 using a 4 cyl. Vert, cross mt. engine. In 1916 this tractor was improved and the one front wheel was replaced with two. In 1919 The Russell Giant 30-60 had a 4 cyl. vert, in line engine 8x10 at 525 RPM.

In or before 1919 The Russell Little Boss 15-30 had a 4 cyl. vert. in line Waukesha eng. 4 1/2 x 6 3/4 at 950 RPM.

In or before 1919 The Russell Big Boss 20-35 HP had a 4 cyl. vert, in line Waukesha engine, 5 1/2 x 7' at 825 RPM.

Russell quit in 1927. If you want to see a good 30-60 Russell go to Rollag, Minn. show. Norman Pross of Luverne. N. D. shows one there.

Shown is a very rare Pioneer tractor shown at the Freeport Show for the first time. It has a 4 cylinder opposed engine.

Courtesy of Louis Althoff, 328 West Chestnut, Freeport, Illinois 61032