Interstate Tractor Co.

The short history of Plowboy and Plowman tractors


| December 2005



PlowmanTractor1.jpg

When Sandy McManus advertised for Sandy McManus Inc., of Waterloo, Iowa, in 1912, the ad read: "I am going to share my profits with you." It was just another way of saying prices of Sandow gas engines would be low. 1914 prices ranged from $27.50 for a 1-1/2 HP Sandow to $375 for the largest 16 HP machine. McManus also sold manure spreaders, cream separators and washing machines. (These Sandow engines were not related to the Detroit Motor Car Supply Co. Sandow engines.)

Mists of Time

Two things are unclear about Sandy McManus Inc. First is whether or not the company was an engine manufacturer. According to Manufacturing Companies of Gasoline Engines in Early Waterloo, a booklet from the Museum of History and Science in Waterloo, one-fifth of the entire nation's gasoline engines were manufactured in Waterloo from 1910 to 1915. The booklet also lists area manufacturing companies, and Sandy McManus Inc., is not included.

The second thing needing clarification is when McManus went into business. 1912 could be when the company started, although McManus' words in the September 1912 ad makes you wonder: "Though I've built up the greatest gasoline (engine) business on this good green earth, I've got a new plan that's going to stir things more than ever, and it's going to make my competitors sit up at night thinking about how to beat Sandy McManus." Those words hint that the company existed earlier, but more concrete information is not available.

The company was doubtless a mail order house, because it isn't likely that immediately after startup any company would have engines on hand in 1-1/2, 1-3/4, 2, 2-1/2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12 and 16 HP sizes. All were hopper-cooled except for the air-cooled 1-1/2 HP engine.

Also, the similarity between Associated and Galloway engines, both manufactured in Waterloo at the time, give the sense that Sandows were merely re-badged Associateds and Galloways.

The End and the New Beginning

Within three years, stockholders lost their faith in McManus, and in 1915 he was pushed out. Almost before the ink on McManus' resignation was dry (it was announced Oct. 12, 1915), the company was reorganized in October 1915, into the Interstate Engine & Tractor Co., manufacturers of farm tractors. This was a road McManus didn't want to travel during his presidency.