Bantam tractor

Bantam tractor

Content Tools

21 Point Lane Arcadia, Indiana 46030.

My husband, Joe Artman, decided to retire from farming in 1984. After long days and years of hard work and repairing machinery, he took a year to overhaul, paint and repair every piece of his farm equipment. Then we had an auction and moved from the farm.

The first year we were there, I thought, 'Boy! Have we made a mistake!' Then came a steam and tractor show at Tipton, and he saw a Bantam tractor there. Well, he had worked at the Standard Manufacturing Company in Lebanon in the 1940's and helped build the Bantam's in the 50's. From then on, the hunt was on for one to restore.

Jack Harrell (of Roanoke) came to the rescue and sold him a 3 HP. It was all there but the gas tank. Joe completely rebuilt the motor, then sanded and painted it. He ended up using Allis Chalmers Orange on it. In a couple of months it looked like new, and ran like it too. Then came a 5 HP (we had to go to Pennsylvania to find it), and the same thing. We may have to go to Illinois or Ohio or Pennsylvania for a part or a tractor, but it sure beats grouching at your wife and jigsaw puzzles.

In the meantime the history of Standard Manufacturing Company in Lebanon, Indiana has been interesting to recall. It started in 1925 making replacement parts for cars-Auburn, Stietz & Coles. When the Model A came along, they made clutch parts for Ford and other cars of that era.

In 1935, Ralph Poynter, the owner, was issued a patent for a rotary lawn mower, and then for inventions, such as a leaf pulverizer; these products were known the world over.

In 1947 Poynter sold the inventory rights to Jacobsens of Racine, Wisconsin. He kept the shop and retained rights to sell the mowers in Indiana.

After retiring, Poynter decided he'd mow his own lawn if he could do it without working. So about 1950 he made a 235 lb. tractor, 50 inches long, 30 inches high with a Briggs & Stratton motor. Calling it the Bantam and painting a pointer dog on the hood, he had invented rocking chair comfort.

They were made in 3, 5, and 8 HP and a 2 HP for kids. The kids size weighed 154 lb., went 4 mph and sold for less than $200. He made them in Lebanon, Indiana until he decided to retire again in about 1956. John Ramp bought the inventory and moved it to Indianapolis. He continued making them until 1958. In '59 he filed for bankruptcy and the whole thing went to Falls Manufacturing in Illinois where they continued until 1964, when Bantams were no longer made.

Thus the Bantam tractor from Lebanon has provided us with a great hobby. As soon as we get an 8 HP to work on we'll be ready for another interesting hunt for parts, etc. And I'll probably be replaced as the official secretary around here, when Joe finds out I've sent this to GEM.

If you should want to contact him, the phone number is 317-984-4935 or write Joseph Artman, 21 Point Lane, Arcadia, Indiana 46030.