THE BRADLEY TRACTOR

A Bradley Ad

A Bradley Ad

Content Tools

Route 2, Box 77, Antioch, Illinois 60002

Among the rarer items for a tractor collector to find today is the Bradley tractor sold by Sears Roebuck & Co. in the early 1930s. This was a tricycle type machine, designed by Dent Parrett, who had built his own tractor, a 12/25 bearing his name, just prior to World War I. The Parrett was a 3-plow, 4-wheel model with a cross mounted 4 cylinder Buda engine, and a 3-speed transmission.

The Bradley was a 2-plow, with rear wheel tread adjustable from 56 to 86 inches, and had both a 4 row mounted planter and a 2 row cultivator as added equipment.

Clearance under the rear axle was obtained by use of a pinion and bull gear type of final drive, with tubular pinion shaft housings which could be moved in or out for varying tread spacings. Rear wheels were 42 inches in diameter with a 7 inch face, having spade lugs as standard equipment. Extension rims, angle lugs, and open face wheels were added cost options.

The tractor is shown in advertising folders as a light green with medium red wheels, but actual colors may have been darker. Fenders were also listed as an extra cost option, but none are shown in advertising.

The motor was a Waukesha, 4 cylinder vertical L head, mounted lengthwise, with a bore of 3-3/4 inches and a stroke of 4-3/4. Displacement was 210 cubic inches, and normal RPM was 1250. Spark plugs were 7/8 inch. Compression ratio was fairly high for the times, and gasoline was the only fuel used, from a 20 gallon tank with a filter.

Accessories were of standard make, American Bosch magneto, Kingston carburetor, Pomona Vortox oil air cleaner, and Young radiator. The clutch was a Borg & Beck, 10 inch single plate, and was foot operated. The motor was supported in the 2 channel irons which formed the frame, fastened at the front to the steering pedestal, and at the rear to the differential housing. A hand brake was provided for each rear wheel.

The transmission had 4 forward speeds of 1?, 2?, 3, and 4? miles per hour, and 2 reverse speeds of 1? and 2 miles per hour.

An unusual feature was the 2-speed belt pulley, which also had a reverse. Belt driven machines could be started in the more powerful low range and then shifted to the higher speed while running. The reverse may have been used to clear a clogged machine. Pulley size was 12 inch diameter with a 7 inch face and normal operating RPM of 800 gave a belt speed of approximately 2600 feet per minute. The advertising folder states the pulley could be mounted on either side of the tractor.

The power take-off ran at 550 RPM and spline shaft size was 13/8 inch, which many tractors did not adopt until several years later, the 11/8 inch size being more commonly used. Both pulley and power take-off were extra cost options.

In June of 1931 the Bradley was tested at Nebraska, and there set a new track record by pulling over 99% of its weight at the drawbar, on steel wheels and with spade lugs, developing 18.45 HP. In the operating maximum load test brake HP was 24.96 and only 2.7 gallons of gasoline were used per hour.

With such an excellent performance record and so many apparently good features, it would seem the tractor should have been successful, especially since it was sold and backed by a company aslarge as Sears and had a list price of only $795.00. However, it evidently did not sell well and production was soon discontinued.

Six or seven years elapsed before Sears Roebuck introduced another tractor, this time a more powerful 6 cylinder, rubber tired model, built by Graham-Paige of Detroit and called the Graham-Bradley, advertised as a 2-plow farm tractor. This new model had a Continental engine with a bore of 3? inches and a stroke of 43/8. Displacement was 217 cubic inches and normal RPM was 1500. This was also a high compression gasoline burning motor.

Starter, generator and lights were standard equipment, also battery ignition with automatic spark control, and a replaceable cartridge type oil filter.

A built-in thermostat kept water temperature constant. The 4 main bearing crankshaft had 9 counterweights for balance, and lubrication was full pressure.

A long hood with removable side panels and a cast iron grille protected the motor and radiator, and also housed both oil air cleaner and muffler, giving the tractor a smooth streamlined appearance. A cushioned seat with a back rest and a room platform were provided for the operator's comfort, as well as pressed steel fenders over the rear wheels. The main frame was cast iron, and front sections of the cultivators were attached directly to it with capscrews. Gauges weregrouped in a panel on the cowl, which also had the choke and throttle controls and the ignition switch.

There were again 4 forward speeds, but with only 1 reverse of 2 mph, and a high gear of nearly 20. Other speeds were listed as 2.8, 4.4 and 5.7. These field travel rates seem to have been quite fast, with a second gear of over 4 mph and oversize tires would have even increased this, with first gear probably the only choice for some power take-off work, such as combining and corn picking in heavy crops.

Rear wheels were adjustable from 56 to 84 inches in 4 inch steps by reversing wheels and changing rim positions. The axles were full floating truck type with no protruding ends. Individual rear wheel brakes were foot operated and could be appliedsingly or together, also both could be locked for holding the tractor such as in belt work.

The belt pulley was again unusual, being driven from the rear of the transmission, and by locking out the final drive with the lever provided, all of the transmission speeds including reverse were available at the pulley, which was a 15 inch Rockwood type with a normal RPM of 714, giving a belt speed of 2800 feet per minute.

Power take-off, hydraulic power lift, and belt pulley were all listed as extra equipment. Standard size tires were 9.00 x 36 inch rear and 5.50 x 16 inch front. All wheels were pressed steel, and catalogs described the front as being reversible for extra clearance. No steel wheels were listed for this tractor, although they were an option with some others.

The only mounted equipment shown in advertising was a 2 and a 4 row cultivator, and a power take-off driven rear mounted mower. Shipping weight of the tractor without added equipment was 3500 pounds, and color was red with white striping on the wheels. There was a chrome nameplate on each hood side.

The Graham-Bradley was also made in a standard tread with smaller rear wheels and a wide front end. Travel speeds were slightly slower and it was described as being able to pull 3-14 inch plows, although all other features were the same as the row crop model.

Nebraska tests were made of the Graham-Bradley in April of 1938. Maximum brake HP developed was 30.38 and maximum drawbar 25.20 in second gear at 4.14 miles per hour. Standard tires were used in the test with added weight of about 600 pounds per wheel. In the operating maximum load test, 28.27 brake HP was developed on 2.7 gallons of gasoline per hour, making a very respectable 10.39 HP hours per gallon.

Even though most Graham-Bradley owners were pleased with their tractors performance, it too, like the former Bradley, was sold for only a few years.

Another tractor was announced by Graham-Paige in 1946, but for some reason did not appear. In the February 28 issue of Farm Implement News, a full page ad by Graham-Paige states: 'The great new Frazer tractor is an improved universal type power unit of full 2-plow capacity.' On page 33 of the same issue, a news item mentions Graham-Paige as naming 6 area sales managers to supervise national distribution of the Frazer tractor. In the September 12 copy of the same paper for that year another news item says: 'Reports from Detroit state that a new 2-plow tractor called the Frazer will be put into production this fall by Graham-Paige, together with a wide line of implements and field machines.' There were no further items and apparently no tractors were ever produced.