'Little Boss' Comes Home

1917 Russell Little Bom tractor

The 1917 Russell 'Little Boss' tractor atop the Ryder rental truck which hauled her 2700 miles February, 1984.

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34 S. Main St. Navarre, Ohio 44662

This 10-20 (kerosene) Russell 'Little Boss' tractor was built in 1917 and shipped to Oregon that same year to one of Russell's larger sales agents, the A. H. Averill Machinery Co. in Portland. Sixty-seven years later, my brother, Ken, and I faced the task of a 2700 mile return trip. With the help of the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society, who had a load coming back from Portland, and Gary Bensman, of Diversified Rail Services, Ft. Wayne, Indiana, who did the trucking, it was decided to try to load the tractor on top of the other load. This enabled all parties involved to realize a savings in cost.

Leaving Ohio, the moving crew outran a blizzard the weekend of February 19 to find 70 degree weather awaiting them in Oregon. When they went to pick up the Russell, she started right up on a crank or two. The former owner drove right up on the truck after 67 years it still ran good! Wherever they went they stopped traffic. In Nebraska a farmer pulled up beside the truck and remarked that his father had farmed with a Russell, but he had never seen one that small. This 10-20 is the smallest size Russell made.

After 8 years of searching, my brother and I had finally found one! The Russell company was well known for its line of steam traction engines and threshing machines; however, their transition to tractors was never that well received by the market. An article in the Massillon Evening Independent a few years back about Russell sending train loads to Portland, Oregon gave my brother and I our new hunting grounds. Every time we had a chance to talk with anyone from that area you could be sure they were asked the same thing: 'Know of any Russell equipment, gas or steam?' Back in December we found this Russell for sale and with no thought of the 2700 miles, we sent the agreed-on amount. We soon found that Eugene, Oregon was about as far west as you can get without getting your feet wet in the Pacific Ocean.

The 10-20 Russell 'Little Boss' has a Waukesha 4-cylinder motor (4'x5) it has a top speed of 3 MPH, a capacity of 2-14' plows, a weight of 4600 pounds, and has 30' front wheels and 53' rears. Its height is 96', width 67', length 142', and it has a turning radius of 13 feet.

After months of planning, some worrying and 2700 miles later, our Russell was home within 5 miles of her birth ready for her retirement not to mention a few steam shows. The new addition to our collection will be at the Tuscarawas Valley Pioneer Power Show August 17, 18, and 19 and our own show October 6 and 7, 1984, held in my side and front yard here in Navarre, Ohio.