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Rolland E. Maxwell

Successful Old Tractors. Over the years people have asked what
was the most popular and most successful of the old tractors,
starting from the first and up to around 1915. Knowing this could
be a very controversial issue, I’ve always side-stepped the
issue. Its natural for everyone to have his own favorite
automobile, tractor, motorcycle, etc. Now I feel it is time to pick
out some of the facts as they appear in history. These tractors may
not be the earliest, but they were the first that were the most
successful and most popular taken as a whole. Over the years I have
talked to old dealers salesmen, repair men, owners, and from my own

In a 1901 American Thresherman, they announced that the Waterous
Eng. Co. of St. Paul, Minn. were making fifty tractors for sale.
They were not called tractors at that time but were called Gas
Traction Engines. Large one cylinder Horiz. engines mounted on the
frame and wheels of a steam engine. Very large bulky and
cumbersome. They were in production for only a few years and did
little to change the design of their machines. They were used for
belt work. In a Dec. 1903 issue of American Thresherman is shown a
picture of a Hart Parr and a Waterous plowing in the same

The Kinnard Press Co. later called the Kinnard Haines were
building large portable gas engines. One cylinder engines, and if
my information is right, they got the patents or patterns from the
Otto Co. of Phila. Pa. They built their first Flour City 1897. They
were called Flour City because Minneapolis was the Flour City, or
rather the center of the Flour industry. They built four in 1898
and twenty eight in 1899. They used their own 12 by 18, one
cylinder engine on a steam engine chassis and wheels. This went on
until 1908, when they made a radical change using a four cylinder
vertical engine set in line on several sizes from 25-50 to 40-70.
They were tested each year from 1908 thru 1912 at the Winnipeg,
Canada Contest. A 1925 issue of American Thresherman still lists
their ads under Kinnard and Sons. I know of about fifteen still in
existence and alive today, particularly in the Northwest where they
were mostly sold. I know the Flour City was a successful tractor
and a rare one today. What made Hart Parr go over so big? They
started making gas engines in 1897. The first tractor was made in
1901 at Charles City, Ia. It wassold to a farmer in Iowa who used
it for seventeen years without a major rebuilding job. In 1902 and
1903 they built fifteen, and in 1928, six of those fifteen were
still being operated. Old number three is in the Smithsonion
Institute Museum in Wash. D.C. One of the most incredible things is
they built their tractor for seventeen years without redesigning
it, except for small improvements in carburetion, cooling and
electrically. In 1902 they developed their valve in head engine. In
1904 they developed a way of burning kerosene and other heavy fuels
and never had it patented, just gave it to the rest of the world to
use. Can any one imagine one of our major machine companies today
doing such a thing. In 1904 they started using magneto ignition and
a year later forced feed lubrication. Their first tractors were
17-30’s and 22-45’s.

1916 -10-20 Mogul owned by Rolland E. Maxwell.

From the very start they built extra heavy frames and gearings,
a weak point up to then in all tractors. In 1907 they changed the
22 45 to 30-60 and called it ‘The Old Reliable,’ as long as
that size was built. In 1912 they built a large tractor of 100
H.P., the largest tractor built up to that time. In 1907 they
called their machine Tractors, a new word at that time. Up to then
they were called Gas Traction Engines. The factory was turned over
to government for World War I work from 1914 to 1918. Up until the
government took over the plant, they had made over 5500 22-45’s
and 30-60’s. They quit making that size after 1917, but made up
a number with materials on hand that had not been assembled before
the take over.

Hart Parr did five models of various sizes of large three
wheeled machines with one wheel in front, with one and two cylinder
vertical engines. These were successful but never popular. There
are at least six left.

Stop and think! Their future competitors only got started in
1910 to 1912, here in the Mar. 10th, 1910 Threshermans Review
showed a solid train load of Hart Parr tractors going to Calgary
and Lethbridge Can. Selling price was over $100,000. Freight and
duty over $20,000. This was before any one else had barely got
started. In 1911 Hart Parr shipped three train loads of tractors to
Western Canada pretty well distributed all over. This was beside
what they sold in the state, and the Dakotas and Minn. were heavy
buyers. I’ve been told the duty to get a tractor across the
Canadian Line was $500 each. They usually listed at $2650 F.O.B.
factory at Charles City, Ia.

Canada was just opening up from 1905 to 1910, that is just
settling up. They were wild for Tractor, just look at the price
plus freight and duty to get them.

In 1908 Mr. Hart was invited to take part in the Winnipeg
contest, so he entered several tractors. Then the committee ruled
him inelligible because it was 700 pounds over weight. Mr. Hart was
furious and unloaded and sold them close by, where he said his
tractors could do their own demonstrating, and did, not having to
be sponsored by any one else. Both Mr. Hart and Mr. Parr were plain
ordinary men who had confidence in their machinery to go out and
make good any place which it did. As old as they are I still know
of about thirty 22-45’s and 30-60’s still around, and six
old one and two cylinder up right, with one wheel in front yet.

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