Route 4, Huntington, Indiana 46750
The most controversial tractor made during those early years was
undoubtedly the Fordson. For some years Henry Ford had been
experimenting with tractors. In the later part of 1917 he started
making Fordsons. It was during the war years, and Ford stipulated
the first ones should go to State and National governments, as well
as overseas. All Ford car dealers handled Fordsons and that spread
the sales all over. The first year, 1917 saw 7,000 made. In 1918
they made 34,000 or over 25% of the 132,700 tractors made by all
companies that year. Up to August 20, 1920 over 100,000 had been
sold. In 1925 they made 100,000 and Ford claimed that was 75% of
all the tractors sold that year. It was the first tractor to be
made on an assembly line basis.
I will make no attempt to dwell on the merits or faults of the
Fordson. Every former owner can do that. Needless to say price had
much to do with its popularity. Amos Klinger of Bluffton, Ohio told
in 1922 he paid $390 for tractor, $30 for fenders, and $100 for a
two bottom Oliver plow.
There is no doubt that they would have become even more popular
if Ford had done a better job on his ignition system, and had used
better material throughout. He said he would put the Nation on
wheels, either rubber or steel, which he really did. They never
advertised horsepower for their tractor. If a dealer was pressed
for an answer it was usually around 20 H.P., Weight 2,750 pounds.
They were usually a fair two bottom tractor unless the going was
too hard. I had a neighbor who bought one new in 1926. Before it
was delivered he had an Atwater Kent ignition system and governor
installed. He used that tractor eleven years with good success. On
the other hand another neighbor drove his boy off the farm with
one. Ford never put anything extra on either his car or tractor.
That creates a flock of small companies making extras for both the
car and the tractor. For the Fordson these extras consisted of
fenders, water pumps, belt pulleys, belt guides, manifolds,
hitches, carburetors, timers, just to mention a few. Also
attachments like buzz saws, mounted mowers, mounted plows, etc. I
remember one entire issue of Farm Mechanics was devoted to Fordson
The last Fordson was made in 1928. No doubt the thing that had
slowed the sales was that some of the new tractors on the market
had such advantages, as more power, much better bearings, removable
sleeves, overhead valves, power take off and so forth. One junk
dealer told me he had cut up over 300 Fordsons. An I.H.C. dealer
told me he had taken over 90 Fordsons in one year. There are very
few left today, compared to the number that had been made. They
certainly played a part in early power farming and helped to create
our horseless age.
I have taken our Fordson to a number of steam engine shows and
have always been amused at the comment it brings out of the
spectators. One year I was sitting on my steam engine eating
dinner. The Fordson was hitched to the water wagon close by. A
large woman of some fifty years got on the seat of the Fordson. She
sat there for over ten minutes of what seemed to be deep
reflection. Directly she came over and asked if I owned it, which I
said I did. She then said, ‘When my husband and I were married
we bought a team of horses and a new lordson. That tractor took
live years off of his life.’ Now I know nothing of this woman,
her husband, nor that Fordson. But I am sure that while she sat
there on that Fordson so absorbed, that she was reliving some of
their earlier experiences. Maybe my taking that tractor to that
show was well worth the effort.
Townsend Tractor–picture taken at Saskatoon, Saskatchewan by
1930 12-24 Hart-Parr owned by Mr. Maxwell.
12-25 Parrett. Picture was taken in 1929 and the tractor is
owned by Rolland.
Each year at Zolfo Springs, Florida, Messrs. Young and Serdynski
can be relied upon to come up with a most interesting group of
‘What is its?’ and ‘Who Done
There was a rash of attachments made to attach to the rear end
of a Model T lord to make a light tractor out of it. At best they
were rather crude, By putting a water pump and extra cooling, they
would pull a 16′ plow or two 12′ plows is light going. They
were usually used on small acreages or estates. Companies making
such attachments were:
Farmers Tractor Co. of Chicago made the ‘Fleeney’.;
Pullford of Quincy, Ill-Price $155: Staude Mak, A Tractor of St.
Paul, Minn. $225; Ward Tractor Co. Lincoln, Neb. made a belt pulley
attachment to put on the front of a Model T for bell work.