Color Inserts and Automotive Styling weren't Enough for Illinois Tractor Co, to Survive a Flooded Market
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 Power. 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 customers.
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.
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 one 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 throughout.
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 person.
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.
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 convinced.
SHOWING CARBURETOR AND MANIFOLD SIDE The illinois Super-Drive 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.
SHOWING MAGNETO SIDE A&B ENCLOSED GOVERNOR The governor is 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 removed.
SHOWING EASILY REMOVABLE CYLINDER HEADS These are separate from 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.
SHOWING POWERFUL CRANK SHAFT AND ITS EASY ACCESSIBILITY Note the 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.