By Staff
1 / 12
2 / 12
3 / 12
4 / 12
5 / 12
6 / 12
7 / 12
8 / 12
9 / 12
10 / 12
11 / 12
12 / 12

In 1916 the Illinois Tractor Co., Bloomington, Ill., entered the
young but increasingly competitive small tractor industry with the
introduction of its Illinois Motor Cultivator. A crude,
gangly-looking device powered by a 4 HP hopper-cooled stationary
engine, it none-the-less provided the company with a starting point
for its drive to grab a piece of the growing tractor market.

Development of a more substantial tractor came quickly, and in
1917 the company launched the decidedly sleek and modern Illinois
Super-Drive. Rated as an 18-36, the Super-Drive was equipped with a
kerosene-burning 40 HP four-cylinder Climax with force-feed
lubrication. A separate, two-gallon tank held gasoline for
starting, and once warmed up the engine was switched to draw from
an 18-gallon kerosene tank.

A novel feature on the Illinois was its cushioned drive wheels,
whereby a ‘driving spider’ mounted on springs in the rear
drivers absorbed shock loads imposed on the driveline. Traction was
advertised as secure, thanks to patented Loxon cast iron wheel
lugs, claimed to be replaceable in as little as five minutes. Add
in its automotive styling and unit construction and the Super-Drive
was, in many respects, ahead of its time.

The ad shown here was a special four-page color insert in the
March 1917 issue of The American Thresherman and Farm
. Illinois clearly had big plans and high hopes for its
latest offering, and figured a special ad of this magnitude would
garner more than a little bit of interest from prospective

For all the Super-Drive’s attributes the new model did not,
unfortunately, spell success. By 1921 the Illinois Tractor Co. was
history. The following pages from the Illinois Tractor Co.’s
special insert for 1917 (including the cover image, below) are
reproduced here in their original, full color glory. Special thanks
to Dusty Ericson, 7950 E. Redfield #160, Scottsdale, AZ 85260, for
supplying us with this original 1917 issue. Enjoy.

ILLINOIS SUPER-DRIVE TRACTOR. The illustration at the left is a
front view showing simple, powerful semi-steel roller bearing front
axle with wide belt and ample radiator clearance, also position on
top of axle for steel roller belt tightener.

ILLINOIS SUPER- DRIVE TRACTOR. The center illustration is a rear
view showing roomy platform, tool box and comfortable seat. Note
the convenient foot controlling clutch lock and the fuel control on
dash both easily accessible to operator. Note brake levers on each
side of platform and the neat and substantial steering wheel on
which are attached the spark and throttle control

ILLINOIS SUPER-DRIVE TRACTOR. The illustration at the right is a
side view showing neatness of design, well balanced wheel base and
power full rear drive wheels, either of which may be locked to give
traction on slippery ground. This view show driving spider and
cushion spring attachment.

The Tractor That Every Farmer Wants

In order to do all farm work properly a tractor must be built
mechanically correct

When a farmer intends to purchase a tractor he compares several
tractors point by point then makes his selection according to his
ideas of which tractor will best do his work.

Our unit construction consists of the Illinois Live Rear Axle
and enclosed Transmission coupled direct to the Engine Cradle and
Front Axle Support. It is a frame and mechanism all in
self contained, simple and powerful, and cannot
get out of alignment. It eliminates excess weight and saves the
user from many adjustment and costly repairs which he would have,
if using a tractor of the old design.

Note the simplicity of design, the solid built-in strength of
construction and Hyatt heavy duty roller bearings used

The ILLINOIS Enclosed Transmission

In the Illinois Transmission the two Cross-Over gears are placed
on the outside of the transmission housing and completely enclosed
by an easily removable cover, provided for lubrication and
protection. The position of the Cross-Over gears, as shown in cut,
gives two speeds forward, 2 and 3 MPH and one speed reverse. For
exceptionally heavy duty or drag work, gears may be reversed in
position, which would reduce speeds forward to 1 and 2 MPH, thus
greatly increasing the horsepower at the drawbar. In case speeds
greater than 3 MPH are required for road or special work, special
gears may be provided. Cross-Over gears may be interchanged in five
minutes with a wrench and screw driver even by an unskilled

ILLINOIS Planetary Live Axle Drive

Above is shown one side of the Illinois Planetary Live Axle
Drive stripped of its housing. The entire mechanism is designed to
reduce friction to a minimum and to deliver maximum engine power to
the drawbar. This Planetary Live Axle Drive is the most efficient
Tractor Drive in existence.

The Final Planetary Live Axle Drive is engaged at all times at
three points of contact, inwardly and outwardly, instead of the
reduction being made through a single gear engaged at one point
only, as is the case where driving pinion and bull gears are
employed to act as a final drive. This Planetary Drive of the
Illinois Super-Drive Tractor reduces wear, removes any chances of
stripping gear teeth, protects all the gears indefinitely and
delivers maximum engine power to the drawbar.

Exhaustive tests show that this Planetary Super-Drive transmits
at least 20% more power to the drawbar -without strain than any
other driving principle in tractor use. All gears used in the
Illinois Super-Drive transmissions are case-hardened steel. They
will never wear out if kept properly lubricated.

The ILLINOIS Driving Spider and Spring Cushion

Our Final Drive applies the power through a four-arm Driving
Spider, which is securely fastened to the Live Axle. This Spider
delivers the power (through spring cushions, which absorb jars,
jolts and shocks) to four sturdy, V-shaped arms, which, in turn,
deliver the power to the rims of the rear wheels and not through
the hubs and spokes.

Compare these correct mechanical features with those of
any other tractor now in use-and you will be


Tractor is equipped with a powerful four-cylinder, slow speed,
kerosene burning engine. This engine is ample to do all the work it
may be called upon to do without strain.

entirely enclosed to exclude dust and acts to prevent the engine
racing if the load is suddenly thrown off. By the removal of fie
stud bolts, the outside cover of the governor can be quickly

the cylinders, to which they are bolted by nine inch studs in each
casting. They are completely water-jacketed to a depth of inch over
the heads.

powerful crank shaft 2-inches in diameter. The crank case is
divided on the center line.The bottom of the crank case can be
easily removed without lifting the engine off its base.

Gas Engine Magazine
Gas Engine Magazine
Preserving the History of Internal Combustion Engines