Nelson engine

Courtesy of Roger L. Eshelman, Box 63, College Springs, Iowa 51637.

Joe Fahnestock

Content Tools

Route 4, Huntington, Indiana 46750

It might be interesting to go into the history of some of the older tractors, some of which became more or less popular, and some obsolete.

In 1906 The Transit Thresher Co. was organized in Minneapolis, Minn, to make a self-propelled threshing machine, but this idea never got off the drawing board, and was discarded. They contracted with the Diamond Iron Works of Minneapolis in 1906 and 1907 to build 26 large tractors for them. Apparently not too successful, the company was reorganized in 1908 as the Gas Traction Co. also of Minneapolis. They called their tractor The Big Four. It was quite successful and the company was bought out by the Etnmerson Brantingham Co. in 1912, and production was continued. A Big Four '30' is shown at the Rollag show and is owned by Jerome Swedberg of Whapeton, N. D. and Carl Anderson of Gary Minn. Somewhere along the line the Huber Mfg. Co. of Marion, O. contracted with them to build a 30-60 with Hubers on it. It was patterned nearly the same as the Big Four. This was in 1914 I think. The one at Rollag is the only one I ever saw.

The Garr Scott Co. of Richmond, Ind., successful builders of steam engines, started building large tractors in 1910 of 40-70 H. P. Later increased to 40-80. They were called the Tiger and 200 of them were built. They later made smaller ones. Norman Pross of Luverne, N. D. shows one at Rollag.

In 1910 The Imperial Mach. Co. of Minneapolis made nine 40-70, big four cylinder tractors with very high wheels. Of the nine made, two are still left. Guy Wilson of Virgille, Mont., and John Messner of Sanborn, N. D. own them. I saw the latter thresh at New Rockford, N. D. and it was a sight to behold.

The Minneapolis Steel and Machine Co. of Minneapolis in 1910 started making the Twin City line, which were both popular and successful. In 1909 they built some tractors for the Joy McVicker Co. In 1910 they started building T C 40-65, which was very popular. In 1916 came the 60-90 a huge six cylinder and there are still two left. One at Yorkton, Sask. and the one at Rollag owned by Elmer Larson and Norman Pross. At one time the Rochell Canning Co. in III. owned seventy-seven small Twin City tractors. After two mergers the company is still in existence and is known today as the Minneapolis Moline Company and at present is owned by the White Motor Co.

The Russell Co. of Massillon, O. another of the old steam engine companies got interested in tractors in 1909 and built a 20-40 three cylinder 8 x 10 vert. 350 rpm engine. This one was tested at Winnipeg in 1909 and pulled six plows. Apparently only a few made. In 1911 they brought out a 30-60 4 cyl. vert, cross-mounted engine and had one wheel in front. In 1916 they made a 30-60 with two wheels in front. In 1917 a 12-24 four cyl. vert. engine set lengthwise and had auto steering. This became very popular. In 1919 a 20-40 of the same style.

After Emmerson Brantingham got hold of Reeves in 1912, they built in 1914 a Reeves 40-65 four cyl. engine set crosswise. Later also made a 25-50. Not many left, but Western Dev. Museum at N. Battleford and Saskatoon each have a 40-65. Sanford Brown of Hoopple, III. has a 40-65, Neil McClur of Colchester, III. and Jim Rathhart of Foreman, N. D. each have a 25-50.

In 1910 Buffalo Pitts Co. took a try at it. In 1910 they made a 35-70. 3 cyl. vert, cross-mounted engine. One-wheel in front, and chain and sproket driven. In 1914 they built a 40-65 using a Twin City engine and set it crosswise of the frame. Not many were built and none are known to have existed to this day. Remember there was lots of competition in the large size tractors.

In 1912 Nichols and Shepard of Battle Creek, Mich, producers of the Red River Special line of steam engines and separators, thought it was time for them to get into the tractor business. They built a 35-70 called Oil Gas. It used a two cylinder twin, horiz. cross-mounted engine along with a steam engine governor, later built a 25-50 size along the same lines. There are still a few around. There is a 35-70 shown at Rollag, Minn, and Glenn Thomas of Ottawa, III. has a 25-50.

If you want to see a rare engine in operation, stop by the Show July 28, 29 and 30, 1972. This Nelson engine was made at Harlan, Iowa. It is a monster for only 3 hp. The proud owner is Rawleigh Woltman of Avoca, Iowa. This shot was taken at the SW Iowa Antique Machinery Show of A. C. Eshelman's in 1971.

The Kinnard Haines Mfg. Co. of Minneapolis were the makers of the Flour City line of tractors. Just exactly when they started making tractors I am not sure of. I do know that in 1908 they tested a 30-60 four cyl. six and one half by seven engine at Winnipeg. They tested the same size engine at Winnipeg in 1909 and 1910. Also in 1910 a 40-60. In 1918 a 15-25 4 cyl. vert, engine. In 1918 Kinnard and Sons a 14-24 Flour City JR. In 1919 a 22-45 4 cyl. horiz. double opposed engine. I can account for seven Flour City tractors left today. Two 40-70's, three 30-60's, and two 25-50's.

The Aultman Taylor Co. of Mans field, Ohio, another old steam engine company, started making 30-60 tractors in 1910 using a 4 cyl. twin horiz. engine with a square radiator with a round stack on top. In 1915 they made a 25-50 with the same kind of radiator. In 1916 they discontinued the square radiator and from then on they used the round tubular type as we see on the later ones. Just when they made the 18-36 I'm not sure. Specifications for the 18-36 and 25-50 can be found in E & E Jan. 1956 page 16. In 1919 they discontinued the 18-36 and 25-50 and started building the 1 5-30 4 cyl. vert, and the 22-45 4 cyl. horiz. engine. I've been told they made a few 35-70's, but I'm not sure of it and can't prove it.

The 30-60's were and still are very popular as the number still around will prove. I know of one man who paid $4000 for one in excellent condition. You will see one at most all the shows. I know where there are thirty-six 30-60's yet, and six 22-45's. The number I can account for is probably only 60% of what still exist. The Campbell Farming Corp. who were operating in a large way in Montana at one time had or were using over thirty.

The Dauch Mfg. Co. of Sandusky, O. placed the 15-35 Sandusky on the market in 1911, and in 1916 they made a 10-20 model J, the 15-35 was Model E. Both had 4 cyl. vertical engines.

In 1911 Fairbanks Morse a 15-25 and in 1913 a 30-60. Both were single cylinder engines. I know where there are still eleven of these left.

My late father, Irvin Maxwell of Champaign, Illinois, owned this 1917 12-25 Titan Tractor and 28' Avery Separator.