Ward Tractor Launched into Oblivion

Cushman-powered Ward Tractor failed to capture the market


| May 2005



Photo1

A three-wheeled Cushman-powered Ward tractor.

It was not uncommon for early gas engines made for general farm or industrial use to find their way into both homemade and factory-made tractors. It was also not uncommon that many of these tractors had limited success. Such is the case with the Ward Tractor Co., manufacturers of the Ward Tractor Plow, powered by Cushman Motor Works 2-cylinder engines, all made in Lincoln, Neb.

The Men

From at least 1910 to 1922, Louis M. (L.M.) Ward was secretary, and ultimately, vice president of Cushman Motor Works, evidenced by original factory letterhead, other company literature bearing his name and Lincoln city directories for the period. Everett B. Cushman is also listed as a mechanical engineer during this time. By 1920, Everett Cushman was no longer a part of the company he helped found. After moving to Topeka, Kan., he designed a unique engine for the Piersen Co. with a rotating radiator in the flywheel (GEM, December 2001, pages 16-19). The Piersen sales brochure from that time states: “Mr. E.B. Cushman, designer of the Superior Piersen Motor, has won a nationwide and enviable reputation as a designer of high grade gasoline motors. The Superior Piersen Motor has fittingly crowned Mr. Cushman's reputation as an engine designer.” The brass nametags on these engines distinguished his career as an engineer, and he eventually settled in California, where he also designed a radiator-in-flywheel engine for the Bean Sprayer Co. A brilliant engineer and devoted Christian, it is said by some he was a better engineer and inventor than businessman.

The Machines

During the period in question, Cushman Motor Works experienced ups and downs in its success in manufacturing and selling gas engines for farm or industrial use.

  Among the engines made in its Lincoln factory were the famous 4 HP Model C “binder” engines, and several 2-cylinder, 4-cycle engines including an 8, 10, 15 and 20 HP. Out of apparent loyalty to the company for which he worked, his firsthand knowledge of the quality and capabilities of these lightweight, high quality engines, and no doubt some favorable cost and availability considerations, Ward chose the Cushman engines for his new company's tractors. Information available shows that at least the 8 and 20 HP Cushman engines were used in Ward tractors.

C.H. Wendel notes in Encyclopedia of American Farm Tractors, “L.M. Ward, manager of Cushman Motor Works at Lincoln, Neb. (identified in an overview of Cushman in Lincoln and Lancaster County, 1916, as ‘factory and production manager') announced plans for the Ward Tractor Plow in 1912. Within a few months, the Ward Tractor Co. was apparently organized at Lincoln. This machine was shown at the National Tractor Demonstration at Fremont, Neb., where it received a lot of attention. Power came from a 20 HP 2-cylinder engine. This outfit was about the extent of Cushman's involvement in the U.S. tractor trade, although their Canadian division sold some tractors.” (Wendel's book also shows the Macdonald Tractor and the Multi-Tractor, both featuring Cushman engines.)

  Wendel makes no reference to the 8 HP version of the Ward, and I believe that until photos of the 8 HP version surfaced recently from a West Virginia estate, it was unknown as the photos were unseen for 80-plus years.

jay trevorrow
11/21/2012 1:13:36 AM

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