A view of one of the Tigers 'Before.'
11 Harbor Heights Dr. Centerport, New York, 11721.
In September 1989, we wrote to Reflections regarding information on our two Tiger tractors. Little did we know where we would be led. We had an excellent response to our inquiry and would like to thank everyone who wrote.
We have a 1955 Model 883 and a 1956 Model 883. This is as close as we could come to a year, taking that information off the parts manual for the 1955. The serial on the other tractor was bigger, so we figured it for a 1956. One of the reasons it was hard to pinpoint was the fact the Tiger Tractor Company kept no records as to model numbers or years. In production, if they ran out of a part, something else was substituted or even deleted, thus creating a whole new model.
My grandfather was the original owner of the 1955 tractor. He used it on a small farm he had in Huntington, Long Island. With it he bought a high-row cultivator, plow and snowplow. As a child I remember looking forward to seeing him and riding and using the tractor. It was used for various purposes, such as sawing wood and towing trailers, in addition to the garden chores. After my grandfather died, my uncle stored the tractor, and then gave it to my cousin. We got it back in 1988. The 1956 tractor came from a local school district, which got rid of it because it was too slow for cutting grass by today's standards, as it was only a single forward speed tractor.
My dad Phil and I began restoring the tractors in 1988. Both tractors were completely disassembled. One engine had to have a whole new electrical system, because the mice had eaten it away in years of storage. One transmission had a band relined. The sheet metal parts were in poor condition, due to extensive rust and rot holes, and many dents. Some parts required replacement and refabrication, such as the chainguard on one tractor.
We spent many hours sandblasting. Each wheel alone took several hours. The front ends were totally rebuilt with new bushings, and resleeved spindles. New tires were put on front and rear. Even the little chrome pieces were sent out for replating. Each piece was then repainted and then the tractors were reassembled, including new decals, which were a project in themselves.
My wife Sandy recreated the decals, which were fairly detailed, with four colors, lettering and drawing. By the time they were finished and made, over a year had passed, including drawing, redrawing, color matching, coloring and lettering. The hardest part was finding someone to make them at a somewhat reasonable price, but the results were well worth it.
We had one tractor done and the other started, when we received an exciting letter in the mail. David and Darlene Frederick of the Upper Potomac
Vintage Auto Club sent us an invitation to the first ever Tiger Tractor Collectors Meet to be held on September 16, 1990 in Keyser, West Virginia, the home of the Tiger. It was in July that we got the letter, so it was a big rush from then on, to get the other tractor finished on time.
It seemed fitting that our first show with these tractors would be in the place the tractors were 'born.' Off we went to West Virginia from Long Island, New York, with all the paraphernalia that everyone and everything entails. At the show, we had two of the over twenty Tigers that showed up, all models and sizes. We had a great time meeting a lot of the people we had been in correspondence with, especially Dick During of Xenia, Ohio. I think that both of us were the ones who came the farthest distance. All those people who exhibited received a great booklet about the history of the Tiger Tractor Company, which was very informative and had a lot of pictures and copies of advertising materials and specifications in it. I believe the club has it for sale, and I would recommend it to anyone with an interest in these fine tractors.
We have had the Tigers at shows in New York and Connecticut. We'd like to hear from people about more Tigers, or if we can help with information, let us know. If you see us at a show with our twin girls and our twin Tigers, stop and say hi. The kids are hard to tell apart, but the Tigers are easy-one was ordered without a hood!