LOVE Tractor Story

| September/October 2000

  • Earliest Love tractors
    One of the earliest Love tractors, built in Benton Harbor, Michigan, in 1936.
  • Frank Prillwitz with Love Tructor
    Frank Prillwitz with his 1936 Love Tructor.

  • Nameplate on Truc/actor
    Nameplate on the Prillwitz 'Tru/actor'
  • Nameplate from the Tructor
    Nameplate from the 'Tructor.'

  • Earliest Love tractors
  • Frank Prillwitz with Love Tructor
  • Nameplate on Truc/actor
  • Nameplate from the Tructor

444 South Olds Avenue Hartford, Michigan 49057-1355

Jabez Love of Benton Harbor, Michigan, just out of engineering college for three years, goes to work for Dent Parrett at the Benton Harbor plant of Ross Carrier Company, manufacturers of lumber and industrial carriers since 1920. Being located in the fruit belt of southwestern Michigan, located along Lake Michigan, all the trees and ground crops are protected by the warm temperatures of the lake. This in turn created many, many tons of fruit and vegetables headed for the open market. The farmer had to haul his fruit to the Benton Harbor Fruit Market, the largest cash-to-grower market in the United States. The farmer would haul his fruit and vegetables in baskets and field crates from the fields and orchards; haul it to the barn, and then reload it onto his truck for the trip to the market. So at this time, Mr. Love decided that there had to be an easier way to get the job done. Why not make a tractor using a car or truck motor, transmission and rear-end out of a 3-ton truck, and just haul the fruit and vegetables directly from the orchard and field to the market, with a tractor?

So, J. B. Love made a tractor out of a model 'B' Ford motor and truck transmission, with a truck rear-end, and called it a 'TRUCTOR.' You could travel at about 40 miles an hour and save lots of time. Mr. Love made these Tructors from 1933-1936.

Having worked with Dent Parrett, maker of the Parrett Tractor, Mr. Love used his style of tractor (row crop) and made one very similar to the Parrett, but with a model 'B' motor, transmission and rear-end of a Ford truck. At that time tractors were going about 20 miles per hour. So with these changes, Mr. Love made his tractor go 40-plus miles per hour. As the farmers acquired more and more land, their farms became farther apart, and they had to move heavy equipment, such as spray rigs, plows, discs, etc., from one farm to another. It saved them much needed time to be able to move this equipment quicker.

The row crop was short lived, very few of them were made. In 1937 Mr. Love still made the orchard style with the wide front-end, which he had made since 1933. But in 1939, he used the famous new style hood that continued on until the last one was made in 1954, but they still had some to sell three years later and they ended all production by 1960. The Love Manufacturing Plant in Benton Harbor, that had operated since 1933, six years later moved to Eau Claire, Michigan, in 1939.

The 1939 model of the 'LOVE' tractor had a Chrysler Industrial Motor, with six cylinder, 218 C.I. (Model 30) and by then they were good work tractors, plowing and discing in the fields, but at the same time could do 60 miles per hour on the road. Also in 1939, Mr. Love became the Ford tractor dealer and sold the 9N Ford tractor with a 3-point lift on the rear. Most farmers did not want a tractor without a 3-point lift disc, and Ford did not make them at the time. Mr. Love saw a need for one and converted a pull disc that would raise on 3-point arms, so needless to say, his business really grew, as he was supplying Ford dealers with 3-point discs. We used one on our own farm, in the grape vineyard. It was five feet wide and perfect for use in narrow rows.

In 1947, David Friday took over the tractor production and repair at his factory in Hartford, Michigan. David Friday was already making 'Doodle Bug' tractors out of Ford 'B' motors and truck transmissions and rear-ends. Dave used mostly old Fordson tractor radiators, hoods and gas tanks on the Doodle-Bugs. He put a cast iron emblem on the radiator, 'Made by David Friday,' and hand stamped the farmer's name on the tractor, right below his name.

My friend, Mr. Weber says his father bought two of those tractors; one still is running well, with fork-lift on it and the other one sits behind the barn in parts.

Also in 1947, Ford came out with a line of lift equipment, including a 3-point disc, and Ford dealers bought them instead of the ones built by Mr. Love, so the manufacturing of those dropped off dramatically. During the war, J. B. Love was a consultant for Willys-Overland, in adapting a 3-point hitch for them. Love was already supplying other people with implements, such as Sears Roebuck Company, etc.

Along with all of this, the Love Tractor Company offered Ford, 6-cylinders, and a Willys Jeep motor in a small tractor. In 1949 Love made a wide-front for row crop that was adjustable. He made the row crop with a narrow front in 1933 only. They were a higher version and had an adjustable front axle, only to be used on row crops, but it didn't work out too well, as Love was mainly into farm implements of all kinds.

Love stopped making tractors in 1954, but did not sell them all until late in 1957. No one seemed to want the higher version. When Mr. Love made the new streamlined version, he put a cast, half-moon shape design in front of the radiator cap. The Love name was also cast into each one made. The row crop model had only the name painted on the sides of the hood and a muffle out the top of the hood like the row crop model had. Normally they came out the right side of the motor.

After he wrote this article, Mr. Hall found a Love spray rig with power take-off. Note on the spray rig the PTO runs below the drawbar because the tractor sat so high in the air.

Above is a picture of Mr. Frank Prillwitz (a good friend of mine) and his 1936 TRUCTOR, that he has beautifully restored. Frank lives about 1? miles from the original Love plant on a large farm with a lot of his antique tractors. I live about three miles from the original Friday Tractor Plant.

I want to send a very special thanks to Mr. Frank Prillwitz and to Jill Rauh at the Benton Harbor Public Library, and also Roland Wolske.

David Scharich
4/30/2012 12:40:49 PM

I have a Love 3 pt disc, and am looking for set up information, and or a manual? any suggestions? Thank you


Gas Engine Magazine A_M 16Gas Engine Magazine is your best source for tractor and stationary gas engine information.  Subscribe and connect with more than 23,000 other gas engine collectors and build your knowledge, share your passion and search for parts, in the publication written by and for gas engine enthusiasts! Gas Engine Magazine brings you: restoration stories, company histories, and technical advice. Plus our Flywheel Forum column helps answer your engine inquiries!

Facebook YouTube


click me