As I Saw It XXIV


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

Rolland E. Maxwell

Content Tools

Route 4, Huntington, Indiana 46750

This is a discussion of the engines used in the first tractors made and those that followed. It was perfectly natural that the first tractors had large one cylinder engines because that was all they had. They were used largely to or nearly to 1910. Then came two cylinder, both twin and opposed. By opposed I mean one cylinder going one way and the other going the other or opposite way, like an Avery for example. Twin meant two horizontal cylinders laying side by side and both headed in the same direction. The following is a list of early tractors using large one cylinder horizontal engines. No attempt had been made to give the horsepower ratings nor the bore and stroke. Usually the head of the engine was pointed to the rear of the tractor for easy regulation of the carb. and ignition. Most of these engines were mounted on 2 steam engine chassis. The enclosed picture of a 1901 Flour City was made by the Kinnard Press Co. of Minneapolis, Minn. Note the size and weight of the flywheels, which when running carried a lot of momentum from one explosion to the next. This was about a 25 HP engine, pretty crude but that was the way they were born. Flour City continued to improve their machines and worked into four cylinder engines and made tractors up to 1925.

The following list of big one cylinder tractors takes them up to 1910. 1889 Charter, 1894 Van Duzen, 1893 Hockett (Sterling), 1894 Otto, 1894 Lambert, 1899 Morton, 1897 Flour City, 1904 Dissinger, 1905 Ohio, 1906 Waterous, 1909 Olds, 1910 Jork, 1911 Fairbanks Morse, 1911 Shirk, 1906 to 1912 I.H.C. Titan and Mogul.

1901 Flour City-made their first tractor in 1897 using a 12 x 18 one cylinder engine which they made in 25 and 30 HP. In 1908 came their 30-60 using a four cylinder vertical 6-1/2 x 7. They made their last tractors in 1925. In 1908 they won a gold medal at Winnipeg. The company was first Kinnard-Haines and later known as Kinndard & Sons Mfg. Co., Minneapolis, Minnesota.

From 1910 came the two cylinder Opposed, though some two cylinder twins came in this period, the opposed seemed to attract the most attention. The following were using two cylinder opposed engines: 1910 Herr, 1911 Bates (Lansing Mich.), 1911 Big Chief, 8-15 1911 Opsata, 1913 Leader, 1913 Gramont, 1913 Bull, 1914 Louisville Motor plow, 1914 Steel King, 1914 Andrews 4 cyl. 2 cycle double opposed, 1910 Imperial 4 cyl. double opposed, 1910 Mogul 45 H.P. 345 R.P.M., Minn. Universal 20-40, 1915 C.O.I). 1915 Leader 12-18 750 R.P.M., Avery two cyl. and four cyl. double opposed 500 R.P.M., 1913 12-25 Case and a 20-40 Case, Moline Universal, 1909 Hart Parr 15-30 two Cyl. opp. Holmes (Port Clinton) Wis., Pioneer 30-60 and York 25 H.P.

Now these two cylinder opposed engines had an explosion every revolution of the crankshaft and the manufacturers advertised that having the pistons opposite each other on a double throw crankshaft produced almost perfect balance and resulted in a more smooth working engine. The flywheels could be much smaller and lighter in weight and the engine could be run at a higher speed. Note the older one cylinder engines rarely ran over 450 R.P.M.'s, but a two cylinder opposed could get to 700 R.P.M. or more.

Two cylinder vertical engines were rarely put in tractors, but the following did have: 1915 Hart Parr Little Devil two Cyl. Vert, two cycle, 1912 Hart Parr '27', 20-40 and 18-35. A 1913 Ward also had a Two cyl. Vert.

The following had three cyl. Vert.: 1909 Russel 20-40, Buffalo Pitts and the Savoie, while 1914 Common Sense 20-40 used an Eight cyl. V engine.

Now as to tractors using twin cylinder, twin Horiz. engines: 1911 Case 30-60, 1910 Tital 45 H.P., 1911 Fairbanks Morse 30-60, Waterloo Boy, 1916 Eagle, 1915 La Crosse, Fair Mor, 1915 12-25 Titan 4 cyl. double twin John Deere till 1956, Hart Parr till 1930. TiTan 10-20, All Oil Pulls, Nichols and Shepard Oil Gas.

The two cylinder engines had something going for them. Namely simplicity, economy, longevity and the fact that they were easy to work on and did not require the mechanical skill that today high strung tractors require. Now tractors are so complicated that one has to hire a high-priced mechanic just to even look at one, let alone fix it. A lot could be written on whether or not we have accomplished any real lasting results in present day tractors. High speed and high compressing engines do give more speed but at a cost that could be debatable. Much could be written on the subject, but not by one who is writing the merits of the old tractors. And believe me some of them did have, and still do have merits.

As I look back on the plowing we did with our 25-50 Avery and five bottom plow, our fuel consumption per acre was the same as today. Now if one goes into the finer aspects of such as, depreciation, interest on investment, high cost of parts, let alone higher initial costs, one would find the old boys either winning or right at the top. Maybe I'd better quit before I break through on thin ice. But this I am sure of - I would sooner hear an old Hart Parr or Oil Pull run than some of this so-called modern stuff. We pay a high price for cabs, heaters, windshield wiper, radios and air conditioners, so we can be modern and more comfortable.

1918 Waterloo Boy tractor - Tracy Adam's facial expression implies that the power steering isn't working very well as he turns a corner

Dog Power - Keith Sundblad seems to think that Skip, his black Lab. may not stay on the job of operating the Dog Power set-up.

These were pictures taken at the 1974 Albert City Threshermen and Collector's Show in Albert City, Iowa.

Courtesy of Karl hind, Route 2, Albert City, Iowa 50510