Rt 1 Franklin, Illinois 62638
The 1954 Tractor Field Book lists all four tractors, still made by Custom Tractor Mfg. Co., Hustisford, Wisconsin, but now showing new model numbers, namely the 96R-96W 98R-98W. Also shown is a nice picture of the big 98W with double stacks.
Accompanying this article are illustrations from literature we sold Lehr Big Boys from and pictures of us unloading two new shiny Lehrs. These tractors cost us $1950. The engine and transmission were painted silver and the rest of the tractor was red with the exception of the rear rims being silver.
My collection of Tractor Field Books stop at the year 1954 so I have no way of knowing when production stopped. When we were selling the Lehr Big Boy, we visited the plant in Shelbyville on at least two occasions. I don't remember the name of the man in charge of the plant at that time but I remember well visiting with him in his office. On a pleasure trip this last summer, we stopped in Shelbyville and try as I might I could not find anyone who remembered anything about Custom Manufacturing Co.
In our area the Wards tractor and the Lehr have become very popular on the pulling circuit.
In summation, I will try to condense the history of this tractor to the best of my knowledge.
Custom Manufacturing Co. of Shelbyville, Indiana started out by making the tractors for Lehr Equipment Sales of Richmond, Indiana. After this contract ran out, Custom must have sold them under their name and at that time must have sold some units to Jumbo of Azusa, California.
Evidently, Harry Lowther bought Custom out, continued to manufacture in the Shelbyville plant and at the same time brought out new models. Some time later, manufacturing moved to Hustisford, Wisconsin and Lowther evidently started supplying tractors to Montgomery Ward. With the exception of the Wards tractor, I have never seen any of the large tractors. I doubt that many were ever made.
Let me stress that the preceding is only my opinion after tracing these tractors through my Tractor Field Books. I hope this spurs someone to come up with a more exact history of these tractors.