LOVE Tractor Story

By Staff
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One of the earliest Love tractors, built in Benton Harbor, Michigan, in 1936.
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Frank Prillwitz with his 1936 Love Tructor.
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Nameplate on the Prillwitz 'Tru/actor'
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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.

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