On English Tractors

'Eagle'  HP marine engine

An 'Eagle' HP marine engine with copper water jacket, made in Newark, N. J. about 1915.

John Hoover

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98 Hailey Road, Witney, Oxfordshire, 0X85HQ England.

We find your Gas Engine Magazine most interesting as we have no such book that looks after the interest of tractor and engine owners in this country.

Here are two of my small engines:

An 'Indian' 1914 motorcycle engine, manufactured by the Hendee Manufacturing Company, Springfield, Mass.   Courtesy of George Wakefield, South St., Gladstone, N. J. 07934.

Its good to see how the other half lives (or plays), although there seems to be very little difference between the engine and tractor of both countries. We over here find a great bond of friendship between those interested no matter what class or upbringing the person has if he is interested in old cars, tractors, engines, or steam engines.

I was brought up on a farm during the 1920's on which we used a British Marshall Steam Portable, an Overtime (Waterlou Boy), and 1917 Fordson Tractors.

I've been interested in these things always, although I never took up farming--I went for engineering.

Therefore, as soon as it was apparent that those old machines were fast being scrapped, I decided to do my bit to save them. I was concerned with one of the first Steam Traction Engine Rallies held in this country in 1951. With my business partner, Mr. Wharton, we renovated and appeared with a 1913 Barrell steam showman engine. I have been a member of the National Traction Engine ever since. We have also restored several engines since, including a very old 1887 Marshall Tractor, which is one of the oldest in the country.

I would think that we were in front of you people in running steam events, but we're perhaps behind you in publicly showing 1-C engines and tractors.

The first steam rally that had tractors, to my knowledge, was our North-leach in 1961. There was a Titan, Over time, IH Junior and a Ford Ferguson. But this seemed very slow to catch on. although I was very interested and in fact bought a 1916 Titan and a 1919 Junior 8-16. It is only during the Ias1 2/3 year that they have really caught on and included the stationary engine.

I am a member of our local Banbury Steam Society and last year we formed an I-C tractor and engine section, of which I am in charge. At our steam fair last year, we had over 20 tractors including Fordson, Titan, John Deere, Massey Harris, Allis Chalmers, Furmall A and F12, and the Field Marshall, a single cylinder 5,000 cc diesel. These are very popular and have 8 in the club.

Of the vintage tractors that are in England, we have very few that are older than the 1914-18 war, although quite a number of firms produced them. The oldest to my knowledge is the Ivel made around the turn of the century. There are two or three of these surviving. Most of the British tractors (and American) of that period followed the steam engine design, which was far too cumbersome and heavy for use in the small British fields. We were much slower over here in developing the I-C engine, or there were many who thought it logic to use the coal under our feet and keep steam; whereas, you had oil and therefore developed the I-C engine.

It was not until the 1914-18 war with its shortage of manpower that it was taken seriously and realized that the tractor had come to stay with its adaptability and saving in manpower.

Of course, it was the Fordson that readily turned the tables and convinced the farmers it was cheap and easy to handle. International Harvester followed with their 8-16 Junior and later with the 10-20 which was very successful for many years.

The two Americans of the first world war period that survived in the greatest numbers are the Fordson and the Titan 10-20; a few Moguls, both single and twin; Overtime; M. M. Motor plows, Wallis, Massey Harris; Avery; Huber; and a few others.

Following the 1914-1918 war, tractor production appears to have fallen off considerably, mainly due to the importing of a fair number during the war, and also quite a few English tractors had begun to appear coupled with the fact that Britain was suffering a severe depression during the 1920's.

It was a great pity that the depression came just at a time when some first class tractors had begun to appear. Un fortunately many fell by the wayside due to the hard times.

Consequently, there are not many of the 1920-1930 tractors around. Of the surviving American tractors which are being preserved are the Avery, Case, Caterpillar, John Deere, IH Formalls, 10-20, 15-30, M. M. Oliver 80 and 90. Of course, again a fair few came over in World War II.