Fond du Lac Tractor Conversion

For a Brief Period in the Teens and 1920s, Dozens of Companies Manufactured Systems to Convert Old Cars, Mostly Model Ts, to Rudimentary Tractors. This Fond du Lac was one Such Offering.

| August/September 2002

I have been a subscriber to Gas Engine Magazine for many years, and I have enjoyed reading about rare engines and interesting things lost in time.

Enclosed are pictures of a Fond du Lac tractor. The Fond du Lac Tractor Co. was located in Fond du Lac, Wis. This company was like the Smith Co., which made units to form a truck and make a tractor. This tractor is missing its seat and hood, and it has been sitting outside for many years.

The Fond du Lac Tractor Co. used the Torbenson reduction gearing system made by Torbenson Gear and Axle Co., and they also offered an outfit to make a truck.

The Fond du Lac tractor unit is mounted on a 1923 Dort. The Dort car was produced from 1915 through 1924, with total production of about 135,000, so it is a rare car these days. Power was from a Lycoming four-cylinder engine producing about 19-1/2 HP and featuring thermo-syphen cooling.

John Dudley's Fond du Lac tractor conversion, in this case based on the chassis of a 1923 Dort, itself a very rare car. Dorts were highly regarded in their day for their quality, and perhaps this made the Dort a better foundation for this conversion, as Model Ts were generally not up to the task of farm work.

Conversion rigs were popular for a relatively brief time, hitting their peak in the late teens and early 1920s. It's possible this conversion was mounted on a succession of old cars before finally coming to rest on this Dort.