After outliving most all of the early entrepreneurs of the tractor industry, ROY C. TOWNSEND SR. died February 26, 1987 at LaCrosse, Wisconsin. He was a hands-on inventor, designer, developer and builder of mechanical devices, an accomplished musician and a fine and sensitive gentleman.
Roy was born October 9, 1884 at Magnolia, Rock County, Wisconsin to Arba and Belle (Letz) Townsend. He was married to Edna Yunker June 26, 1912. She preceded him in death in 1984. Survivors are a son, Roy Jr. of Decatur, Illinois; a daughter, Edith Ward of Fort Myers, Florida; four grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren and a sister, Edith Hocking of Janesville.
Roy built a neat 1' scale model of a Case steamer while in his teens. In his middle twenties he was designer and engineer for Fairbanks-Morse and designed their big 30-60. When Fairbanks Morse went out of the tractor business Roy, his brother George Elmer and their father Arba F. Town-send formed a company to build the Townsend Oil Tractor (1914). At first Fairbanks-Morse distributed them under the name 'FairMore'. Others which were exported to Canada were called 'Bower City'. These were the 12-25 size. After a couple of years the 12-25 became the 15-30 and four more sizes were produced- a 10-20, 20-40, 25-50, and 30-60. Later a few units of a more conventional '2 Plow 20 HP' were built. Until the recession after World War I the company could not meet the demand for their tractors but that prosperity turned to heavy losses and production ceased. Later in the 30s the LaCrosse Boiler Company built a few 15-30, 20-40 and 30-60s but, by that time, the design was outdated and the Townsend Oil Tractor was history.
The Townsends moved to LaCrosse in 1931 and Roy became Vice President and Chief Engineer of the LaCrosse Trailer Corp. and helped design and build a 200 ton trailer which was used to haul huge pipes for the Hoover Dam project. He held more than twenty five patents for carburetors, engine designs and much more. In late years he was especially proud of an idea for reforming the side electrode of spark plugs to get a hot spark with lower voltage. They really put new life in old engines with weak magnetos.
After retirement Roy had more time to enjoy his musical hobby. He played French Horn with the Lacrosse Municipal Band and the LaCrosse Symphony Orchestra.
Almost to the end he loved to tell of the adventures of building and demonstrating the Townsend Oil Tractor. Submitted by Wesley W. Rankin, N68 W23784 Laurie Lane, Sussex, WI 53089.