W. C. Matteson and His Flexo-Track-Tor

By Staff
1 / 8
Headless Witte owned by Otis Hardy
2 / 8
7HP Western owned by Ed Cooksey
3 / 8
1910 6HP Woodpecker owned by Frank Deyoung
4 / 8
5 / 8
25HP Western owned by Robert Critz
6 / 8
1923 Model 22-40 Orchard Gray owned by Bill Reeves
7 / 8
8 / 8

The California Antique Farm Equipment Show held in Tulare,
California on April 21-22, 2001, was unbelievable! There were 378
entries in Saturday’s parade! When you can bring collectors and
organizations all together in one place with fantastic brilliant
people, the magic of this event seems miraculous. It is almost hard
to put into words. Enjoy the pictures courtesy of Floyd Schmall,
55235 Peach, Fresno, CA 937250.

1919 Flexo-Track-Tor, drawbar HP 20, belt 40HP, Matteson Mfg.
Co., Stockton, California. Read more about this tractor inside.

A recently uncovered discovery, a 1919 Matteson Crawler, was on
display at the California Antique Farm Equipment Show in Tulare,
California (see back cover). Floyd Schmall kindly sent us photos
and historical background on this unusual tractor.

Walter C. Matteson, of Stockton, California, was president of
the Matteson Manufacturing Company and designer and inventor of the
Flexo-Track-Tor. His father was a senior member of the Matteson and
Williamson Manufacturing Company, which specialized in the
manufacture of harvesters, plows, and other farm implements.

W. C. Matteson had 40 years of practical manufacturing
experience; most of it as master mechanic and designer for Matteson
and Williamson. Based on his years of study and experience, he
designed the Flexo-Track-Tor.

Before beginning actual construction, W. C. submitted his
drawings to a consulting engineering firm which checked each part
with reference to the strains it would be called upon to bear under
the most severe conditions. Confident that all engineering
standards had been addressed, Mr. Matteson personally supervised
the construction of the first tractor.

The outstanding design feature of the Matteson tractor was in
the unit construction of its main body. This method of construction
differed from other tractors on the market in the fact that a
single steel casting was used, which not only formed the gear
transmission housing and the motor support, but also composed the
entire frame or body of the tractor. This integral point of
construction assured greater rigidity under severe strain and also
eliminated the costly assembly of numerous beams or channels
generally in use in tractors of the day. The result was a more or
less flexible and springy foundation for the driving mechanism.

Its designer specifically claimed for it the following points.
First: it was made of high grade electric steel castings; second:
every part was accessible to the operator; third: it was of small
unit construction and had an abundance of power; fourth: it was of
superior construction.

The track used on the Flexo-Track-Tor was also of special
design. It had no points of similarity with the tracks of other
track-laying machines; the track links were reversible and
interchangeable and were made of manganese steel. They were easy to
take off and put on, would not jump the track, and were suspended
from a truss. Assembly was accomplished with the use of very few
bolts. The tractor was flexible and would follow the contour of the
ground. It utilized a four cylinder vertical Waukesha motor with a
Bosch high tension impulse starter magneto. It had a 20HP draw bar
and a 40HP belt.

Before the tractor was presented to the public it was placed in
operation on the ranch of Ralph Lucas, one of the directors of the
company and a long time farmer. For four months the Flexo-Track-Tor
was used for all aspects of daily farm work.

Based on its performance on the Lucas ranch, the company felt
justified in claiming that ‘it is the simplest, most efficient,
and most durable tractor that the market has yet produced.’

Gas Engine Magazine
Gas Engine Magazine
Preserving the History of Internal Combustion Engines