Electric Starters For Tractor


| November/December 1991



The following article is reprinted from The Country Gentleman, July 19, 1919 issue. It was sent to us by Pat Rixe of 1202 S. 211th Street, Catoosa, OK 74015.

When electric starting systems were first suggested for tractor motors four or five years ago, most engineers agreed they would be very convenient if they would work, but none of them believed they could be made to withstand tractor vibration. I know of several experimental installations that had to be discarded on that account.

The vibration of the tractor shook the clamping nuts loose on the terminals, displaced the spacing bars between the plates, broke down the supports for the plates, and even shook the paste out of the grids. Spring suspension under the battery boxes was tried, but that did very little good. The tractor engineers concluded it was no use experimenting any further and passed the word along the line that electric starting devices for tractors were failures.

At the time these experiments were made by the tractor companies, the market for such apparatus was limited and the storage-battery manufacturers thought it was not worth giving much attention. They were devoting their efforts to trucks and automobiles and other installations where business was more plentiful.

Then came the war, and there was a demand for motor trucks for the Army, with starting systems of sturdier make than had been used at that time in commercial work. The army engineers made up their specifications and invited the various manufacturers to submit samples for inspection and tests. The batteries all looked good and gave a good account of themselves on stationary tests, but that was not sufficient; they had to be able to withstand the hard service of the army supply trains over bad roads, with bad care and hard driving.

In order to make sure they would be able to perform reliably under these conditions, the army engineers devised a testing machine that would lift a battery three-eighths of an inch and let it fall on a hard, unyielding surface 480 times a minute, or 28,800 times in an hour. In thirty-six hours a battery received more than a million such shocks. It was a very severe test and the first batteries that were submitted went to pieces considerably under the half million point. In consequence of this poor showing, none of the batteries were accepted and the manufacturers all went back home to improve their products.