Farmer Tractor

Courtesy of Amos B. Stauffer, R. D. 3, Ephrata, Pennsylvania 17522

Amos B. Stauffer

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RD3, Ephrata, Pa. 17522

Alter writing to Kitty for help to identify my three wheel tractor on which the name Gilt: Tractor & Engine Company, Ludington, Michigan, I received a letter from Mr. Adler Fjone of Flaxville, Montana, also Mr. Dalbert C. Johnson of Duluth, Minnesota. Combining information and further cleaning and sanding my tractor I learned quite a bit, but information on the original Happy Farmer Tractor of Minneapolis, Minnesota prior to its change over into LaCrosse Tractor Company, LaCrosse, Wisconsin, is still very lean. The thrill that comes once in a lifetime was mine as I was sanding the fenders for painting. Some lettering started to show up in a circle and in the center appeared a farmer facing me with a big broad smile. I would not elaborate who smiled the most as I too hurriedly sanded away his hiding coat of red paint. I finally cooled down a little as with too much sanding he started in spots to disappear and the original paint under the lettering started to show, about Omaha Orange.

The 1909 Happy Farmer, Manufactured by THE HAPPY FARMER TRACTOR COMPANY, Minneapolis, Minnesota with a 2 cylinder opposed Gile engine 5' bore 6?' stroke, 8-16 HP oiled by a Madison Kipp drip oiler operated by a Pitman and crank on end of camshaft, drips oil into pipes to main bearings, cylinders and rods. No oil level maintained in crankcase. In running it sounds much like a steam engine with its long 7' diameter steel pipe frame and muffler. It has I forward and I reverse gear under 3 MPH. Battery ignition with an Atwater Kent Unisparker distributor and Bennett carburetor; no fuel pump. 750 RPM the engine is 'cranked' at the flywheel, between engine and transmission, with a hook-type handle or lever to edge of flywheel face. They say if it kicks it will either pull you in over the tractor or crack your arm out of joint. No brakes other than pulley brake, so when you are out of gear you are out of brakes. No drivers platform. The lone front wheel tracks with right rear wheel. This tractor was in a dealer's shed new, never sold until 1955 at Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania when a gentleman bought it from Montoursville, Pennsylvania for show purposes. It was not learned who hid it under the red paint, but somebody wanted it painted and ignored all decals and orginal colors of orange and yellow. The children call it the 'Candy Tractor'. Last spring from this gentlemen's sale, my two friends Mr. John Fenninger and Mr. Elias Beiler helped me to obtain this tractor. My desires to own a Happy Farmer were gradually built up by the stories dad used to tell of one he owned prior to 1918. It was sold to him by a LaCrosse dealer who recommended burning kerosene; but this was no success, with all special attachments, because of its long cold intake manifold. I can see now where it is not successfully vaporized.

If anyone can correct or add to the information I have so far received, I would appreciate very much hearing from you. Especially welcome would be history prior to 1916 as the following information seems to he mostly later.

The Happy Farmer tractor originally was one of the three-wheelers that sprouted in the Twin Cities after the Bull tractor demonstrated what a tractor sales cylone was. Bulls were shipped by train-loads to distributors with most of them sold on down payment before the freight bills were paid.

We first heard of the Happy Farmer Tractor Company of Minneapolis early in 1916. In fact, one of the first news items records the appointment of Wm. A. Jones, for many years editor of the IMPLEMENT TRADE JOURNAL (as IMPLEMENT & TRACTOR originally was called) as advertising manager of Happy Farmer Tractor. George II. Massey took over the editorial chair at ITJ. B. F. Hamey was president of Happy Farmer.

Before the year was up, the Happy Farmer Tractor Company was consolidated with the Sta-Rite Engine Company of LaCrosse, Wisconsin, a long established enterprise in a line already starting to wane. Farm engines were bring made in nearly every county-seat foundry in the country, and the big companies were locked in a death struggle that choked oil profit, the center of the fight being between IHC and Fairbanks-Morse.

After the consolidation, H. F. Hamey of Happy Farmer continued as general manager and director. The other directors were II. J. Hirshheimer, who was vice-president of the LaCrosse Plow Company of LaCrosse, together with I,. F. Faslman L,. C. Coleman, W. B. Tseharnar and L. S. Swenson. Probably the Hirshheimers were interested in Sta-Rite. They were a public spirited clan. They also developed the unit lift tractor gang plow. One of their present monuments is the tillage plant of Allis-Chalmers Mfg. Company at LaCrosse, to whom the Hirshheimers sold out ultimately Incidentally, the name of the newly consolidated company was changed to La-Crosse Tractor Company, but they retained the name Happy Farmer for their three-wheel tractors up to 1920, when later models were changed to standard four-wheel machines. Their model G 12-24 was tested No. 29 at Nebraska in 1920. It, as well as all preceding Happy Farmers, were equipped with 2-cylinder horizontal twin engines designed for kerosene. They had Madison-Kipp lubricators using the fresh-oil lubrication system with no splash in the crankcase.. Folks knew lots about dilution in those days and paid considerable to avoid it.

This Model G developed 24.23 HP maximum belt and 17.83 maximum drawbar. Fuel consumption was evidently disappointing to the management, as the figures recorded left them vulnerable to competition. They never really advanced after the Nebraska test report was published as they had before based on field performance.

Happy Farmers had independent wheel brakes after the differential so that by locking one brake, all the power went to the opposite wheel and the tractor would pivot, as Mr. Turnbull recalls.

The machines were also unique in having optional line-drive controls by four 'reins'. Two were used for guiding, one for starting and one for stopping. The Nebraska test engineers worked up courage to line-drive the Happy Farmer and expressed almost elation at the performance.

This tractor was built in 1906 for my parents who had a small farm. It has a 1? York Gas engine, grass mower wheels and gears make up the tractor. When it was built it ran ten miles on its own power to the farm. My mother used it to operate the butter churn and washing machine. It was used on the farm to run the grindstone, woodsaw, feed grinder and chaff piler threshing machine. It is in no good running condition now.

A nice scene. I'll bet the kids had fun in that hay later - Anna Mae.

There was little to be elated about in many of those early tractor tests except for the performance of a few machines, notably the Aultman-Taylor 0-60 which developed 58 HP on the drawbar. In contrast, when the Avery 40-80 went out to Lincoln, it could only show 65 HP maximum on the belt. The factory prony brake was all out of kilter and had the Avery men illusioned. That test and the one on the Avery track-runner sounded the tocsin for them.

The original Happy Farmer models were the A 8-16 with a twin 5x6? engine and a B 12-24 with a 5-3/4x7. In the G this was stretched to 5x7. Later, around 1920, a small model rated at 7-12 HP with a twin 4x6 engine was listed. This was before the days of cultivating tractors such as the Farmall, so it is doubtful what market this small tractor was intended to tap.

The LaCrosse Tractor Company was not active after the 1921 depression. The catastrophic Fordson price reduction to S395 in 1923 must have deprived the Happy Farmer management of all hope.

The company continued to be listed in the FIN Buyer's Guide directory up to and including 1924 but was out of the 1925 edition. Someone in LaCrosse, probably the Hirshheimers, must have made arrangements for supplying repairs, for LaCrosse Tractor Company continued to be listed as a repair source until after World War II.

5Hp. Root & Vanderwood, No. D 358. It is tank cooled, side shaft igniter in head uses make and break coil and batteries.

6 Hp. Galloway, No. 15844 that I have restored. It has igniter, make and break coil and batteries. Also a 3 Hp. Vertical Novo.

7 Hp. Economy (Sears), No. 87386. It has magneto and igniter.

First engine with radiator 4 Hp. Vertical Cushman, Model C 7 - about 1925. IHC LA 1?-2? No. 13139. 1? Hp. Sandwich, vertical - No. T 754. 4 Hp. New Way, air-cool, Type F 2498. 1? Hp. Rawleigh, No. AA 16538. Some of the many engines I have restored.

5 Hp. Waterloo Boy, Type 'H', No. 240895.