11500 Thrailkill Road Orient, Ohio 43146
It all started a couple of years ago. My son and I were out in the barn working on some old garden tractors I've been collecting and his friend, Eric came over and said that the neighbor had this old garden tractor that he didn't want anymore.
So, we all went over there to see it. It had a torpedo-shaped hood like a David Bradley, but no stamping on the. sheet metal. It had an aluminum tag that said Brownie Tractor Company, Model B, serial number 58335, U.S. Brownie Company, Joliet, Illinois. I asked the owner where he got it. He said that he found it in Oklahoma years ago. He also said that the motor block had a hole in its side so he threw it away. And he didn't remember what the motor was. It has a tricycle front end with two wheels and an automotive type rear axle with two 5-12 tractor tread tires. It wasn't long after talking with him that we were loading the little Brownie on my flatbed pickup truck.
The clutching action is done by a hand lever beside the steering wheel which tightens or loosens the V-belt pulley going to the rear axle.
I started asking people at the gas engine shows that I attend here in Ohio about my little Brownie tractor. No one had any information. So, I also attended the Portland, Indiana, engine show in 1999. I was looking at books and magazines and came across the Gas Engine Magazine Index Locator 1988-1992. Well, there it was, a Brownie Riding Tractor in the July 1988, GEM page 27. Now, I went hunting for old GEM magazines. Just a couple booths down from where I was, a man had boxes of them. The search was on, and of course, after looking through six big boxes of old GEM magazines, I found the magazine I needed in the bottom of the last box. I told the man my story and asked him how much for the magazine and he said that I could have it for free. I have met so many nice and helpful people at the gas engine shows I have attended. The article in the magazine gave the name of a man who owned three Brownie tractors, and also listed his state and city, but no phone number. Well, that was eleven years ago, but I thought I would try to get hold of him anyway. I got the operator on the phone with the information I had and she told me that he still lived there and gave me his phone number. I called Larry and told him that I had a Brownie tractor and would like and was looking for some information on it.
After seeing him in GEM I was hoping he could help me out. He told me that the Allan Herschell Company in North Tonawanda, New York, may have some more information. Larry also said he got his three tractors from Bell's Amusement Park in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Well, back to talking to the telephone operator for another phone number for the Allan Herschell Company. I reached Ed at the company (sales manager), and told him my Brownie story and asked if he could help me. He said that he wasn't too familiar with the Brownie tractor but had some sales literature he could send me and a man's name and number who retired from the company years ago who might have information on that. I was finally getting somewhere. I would say that a lot of the fun about this hobby is the searching and finding of information and parts.
I called the retired man in Wichita, Kansas, and he told me that the Allen Herschell Company bought the Brownie tractor company in 1958. He also said that he only remembers building about eight or ten tractors, which were the double seaters. These tractors were for kids and adults to ride at amusement parks. This spring I attended the Portland, Indiana, Swap Meet where I found two brand new front tires and wheels for only $10.00. What a bargain! I also got two new rear tires and a 3 HP Briggs engine for my little Brownie restoration project.
While at the show, I saw a man with a Brownie tractor just like mine. Boy, it was nice to share stories. He collects David Bradley tractors. I told him that I would send him some of the literature that I received on my Brownie tractor.
I hope that this information is helpful to others. I've enjoyed GEM for a couple of years now and look forward to the next issue.
The specification information below has been taken from a company brochure printed during the time the tractor was the product of Allan Herschell. The tractors, which accommodate two riders, were intended to be used at amusement parks, to 'fill in' in spaces between other rides.
SIZE AND WEIGHT
Width35' Length62 inches Height to top of steering wheel42' Width of seat34' Weight (uncrated)257 lbs.
CAPACITY Each Brownie Tractor will accommodate two children, or one child and one adult. Recommended track length should furnish approximately a 200-foot ride. The number of tractors used determines the total hourly capacity.
ENGINE Each tractor is furnished with a 2 HP Briggs and Stratton 4-cycle engine which incorporates an integral 6 to 1 gear reduction. Chrome-plated aluminum alloy piston, pull starter, fuel tank and muffler are standard equipment. Entire engine may be quickly removed by unfastening only four bolts. A hand operated gasoline pump is furnished so gasoline may be easily pumped directly from a 5 gallon can into engine tank. External engine grounding switch is provided for positive operator control.
DRIVE MECHANISM Power is transmitted by means of an integral gear reducer on engine to a drive shaft by means of a reliable V-belt. The clutching action is obtained by hand operation of the simple lever which tightens or loosens the V-belt. It is not necessary to idle or slow engine during clutching. The high constant R.P.M. of the engine gives better cooling, eliminates spark plug fouling and provides longer, trouble free operation. The rear wheels are driven by an automotive-type differential which provides full power to both rear wheels at all times and thus permits sharp turns in either direction.
CONSTRUCTION The entire Brownie Tractor incorporates welded steel throughout. Angle frame, seats, steps and fender are 12 gauge steel for long life. Streamlined sheet metal hood is hinged at the firewall for easy access to engine. Self-adjusting steering pinion and rack give positive directional control. Front wheels are 10 x 2.75 with rubber tires and lubricated ball bearings. Rear wheels are 12x5 with lug grip pneumatic tires for maximum traction on unpaved tracks. Seat is upholstered in durable Naugahyde.
DECORATION Entire tractor is painted with durable enamel with flashy red and black color combination.
PORTABILITY Since the Brownie Tractor does not require a fabricated track it is possible to operate on unpaved ground area using only rope guide fencing. Tractors are small and light enough to be easily handled by one man and transported with a small truck or racked on a trailer.