The Only Olmstead Left

This picture was taken from a 1912 print

This picture was taken from a 1912 print

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Various views of the Olmstead #27

Oscar Cooke, of Billings, Montana, owner of 'Oscar's Dreamland', has the only known Olmstead four-wheel pull tractor known to exista Montana product owned by a Montana collector.

The Olmstead was made and sold by the Olmstead Gas Traction Company which got its start about 1912 at Big Timber and was later moved to Great Falls.

Oscar and his associates are in process of restoring the engine he owns, which is No. 27. He bought it from Frank Scott of Meeteetse, Wyoming.

'Several parts were gone when we got it,' Oscar reports, 'and we made most of them and had the sprockets cast new as Mr. Scott said his grandchildren had tossed the originals into the Burlington River where he could not find them. We also put on all four new chains.'

The engine was first sold to a county for road work, Oscar understands, and then went to a rancher who used it to plow heavy land and perform other general farm work.

Since the county had bought the tractor for drawbar work only, the belt pulley did not come with it, and Oscar is still trying to find one.

The original maker had the castings made in the old Billings foundry, which burned to the ground in 1935. A part of the old office is still standing, along with some of the machine shop, and is occupied by the Great Northern Tool Co.

An early catalog, evidently now in the famous Hal Higgins collection in California, describes the 'unusually substantial construction' of the Olmstead. It goes on to say:

Here are some pictures from Oscar's collection:

'The power plant of the Olmstead Four Wheel Pull is a four cycle Clifton engine, conservatively rated at 28 HP, with a brake test at 400 revolutions per minute and guaranteed to stand a working speed of 600 revolutions. This engine is equipped with priming cups and compression or release cocks. Each cylinder is 6 inch bore and 7 inch stroke and the crank shaft is 2 inches in diameter. The cylinders are what are known as L head and the design and construction provide ample space for water with an abundant circulation, insuring cool cylinders when the motor is working its limit of power and speed as well as when running a light load. The crank shaft is made of forged steel with bearings of Parson's white bronze. The main crank shaft is carefully turned, machined and fitted. There is an impulse every 1 inches as the tractor moves. The pistons are carefully turned. The engine is assured of longer life than in most tractors because the machine is spring mounted and the springs take up all jars, keeping the engine protected when ruts or obstacles are encountered while at work.'

If you can furnish any further information on the Olstead, Oscar would be happy to hear from you. He's at Billings Route 9, 59102; telephone 406-656-0966.