Unrestored Ferguson plow attached to a Fordson tractor, in Saginaw, Oregon.
National Director Fordson Tractor Club 250 Robinson Road Cave Junction, Oregon 97523
Once the Fordson tractor exploded on the tractor market (50% of all farm tractors sold in 1925 were Fordsons), some faults and drawbacks started to emerge. One criticism leveled was that the Fordson, because of its short wheel-base and other factors, tended to rear over backwards when striking a hidden obstacle. Usually this occurred when plowing, especially with large roots or rocks. The drag-along plow would stop dead, and the powerful engine kept the wheels turning, causing the front end to start raising.
Originally, Ford had recommended a plow he liked, the Oliver #7. Many dealers carried these and sold them with the Fordsons as a 'unit.' However later, a company letter was sent to all dealers stating that the Ford Motor Company no longer recommended a specific brand or model.
Harry Ferguson, the inventor of the three-point system, had originally made an attached plow for a 'conversion tractor' made from a Model T Eros that had some degree of success. When the Fordson came on the American market, he immediately saw that this could become a major product. Therefore, he designed a duplex two-point (handspring lift) plow for the Fordson which had some outstanding features. It was lightweight, took less room to turn around, and cost less than a standard pull-behind plow. The main selling point was that when the Ferguson plow hit a hidden root or rock, the pressure on the rear wheels was released to allow them to spin; hence, no up-ended Fordsons! Hundreds of these, either manufactured by Roderick-Lean or Sherman Brothers, were sold on the market. Later when Fordson manufacturing was shifted to first Ireland, and later England, with a decrease in sales in the United States, Ferguson designed the first three-point hydraulic plow attached on a one-off tractor (copied mostly from the Fordson) and called the 'Black Tractor'- now displayed at the Science Museum in London. However, wanting to go into more complete production of the three-point, he joined David Brown Tractor Company of England, and the (now rare) Ferguson-Brown Model 'A' was manufactured.
The 'partnership' with Brown didn't last however, as Brown wanted a more powerful tractor, and the cost of manufacturing the Brown-Ferguson was too high. So in 1938 Ferguson journeyed to America, met with Henry Ford, demonstrated his hydraulic three-point plow, and the famous 'Handshake' agreement ensued, resulting in the popular Ford-Ferguson 9-N of 1939.
Returning to the 1920s, other plow makers sensed a market for 'attached' plows, and at least six companies besides Ferguson designed and produced plows which hitched to the Fordson between the rear and front wheels. This was evidently to get around Ferguson's patents, as his plow fit on the rear, but then this type of attached plow also prevented the Fordson from rearing up.
As the illustrations show on the following five pages, these mid-tractor plows were either one or two-bottom disc or moldboard plows. One company even had a three-bottom disc plow, with a special axle which jutted way out in front to allow for the longer length that the three plows took. All companies had a special extended front axle to accommodate their particular design.
The companies who manufactured these mid-mount plows included Oliver, who had lost their main market for the pull-behind plow for Fordsons; La Crosse, who came up with the three-bottom disc plow which they claimed added an acre or two to each day's plowing. La Crosse also made pull-behind plows, cultivators and extension front and rear axles for Fordsons. Then there was the Royal, which made a two-way plow, one mounted on the right, one on the left. The Hester Company of Florida made the single or two-bottom disc plow and also a moldboard plow which they claimed 'Sells Fordsons.' Tom Huston of Savannah, Georgia, who also made front and rear mounted 'winches' for Fordsons, claimed his plow was the 'strongest and most powerful plow ever built.' Tom Huston, himself, was known in those days as the 'Peanut King' of the South, but the Athens plow seemed to be the most popular, and more of these plows have survived until today.