Did the two geniuses ever meet? Probably not, since D.C. Stover was much older than Ford. Did their destinies intertwine? You bet! I’m going to enjoy this story because I like old engines, including Stovers, but also love old automobiles. I’ve had many antique cars and trucks over the years, and I still have a couple that we use on tours and displays. Usually, old engines and old cars don’t get mixed up in the narrow scope of our hobby. They do in this story.
Arguably the most important car sold to the driving public was the Model T Ford. Introduced in October 1908, the Model T was the realization of a dream Henry Ford had to produce a reliable but inexpensive car for the average worker, especially the farmer. There are volumes written about Ford and his Model T, so we’ll just get to the bottom line. Ford designed a light, 4-cylinder car made from superior materials and was able to sell the car ever more cheaply by mass production. As he took cost out of producing his car, he passed the savings to the customer and his own factory workers. Before the Model T Ford, people living on farms and in rural communities relied on horses to get their crops to towns or railroads. Other than walking, horses provided the only reliable transportation to move folks and supplies around the countryside. A horse and buggy cost almost as much as a Model T, and the horses got hungry and tired. So, by 1927, the last year of production, Ford had built more than 15 million Model T cars and trucks and put a lot of horses in the pasture (or glue factory).
Fords were recycled. With a sturdy little 20 HP engine and millions of pre-owned (used) Model T’s floating around, it was only natural for the farmer to use the car as a power unit. The Stover Manufacturing & Engine Co. didn’t miss the opportunity.
Stover’s General Catalog No. 70, dated Jan. 1, 1930, shows feed grinders, corn shellers and power take-off units built to mount directly on the Model T Ford chassis. 1930 was the first full year of the Great Depression, and farmers were hit very hard. It would have been cheaper to buy an old Ford for $10 (about $140 today) than to buy a tractor or even feed a horse. However, Stover was not unique. Several companies sold equipment to modify the Model T for a myriad of chores.
Until next time, keep your plugs dry and your igniters oiled.
Contact Joe Maurer at 797 S. Silberman Rd., Pearl City, IL 61062 • (815) 443-2223 • firstname.lastname@example.org