506 Nevada Avenue, Libby, Montana 59923
Yes, I saw Mr. Weiland's letter in the July-August 1976 issue (Smoke Rings) and was much interested. Since then I have acquired some information from the museum in Lundington, Michigan on the Gile Tractor and Engine Co. This information is no help to me in my search for anything at all on the few Gile tractors they produced, but may be of interest to Mr. Weiland and others.
In 1909, J. S. Stearns, along with W. L. Mercereau, M. B. Danaher, F. B. Olney and others established what was known as the Gile Tractor and Engine Co. building a factory for the manufacture of heavy duty stationary and marine engines. In 1914, Mr. Stearns purchased the interests of all the other stockholders, becoming sole owner and giving his personal attention to the conduct of the factory, known as the Stearns Motor Manufacturing Company.
In addition to the engines mentioned above-nothing said about farm tractors-this plant manufactured what was known as the Stearns Farm Lighting Plant. A foundry had been added in which were manufactured not only iron castings used in building the engines and lighting plants, but also large quantities of castings for Flint and Muskegon automobile and engine companies. The engines from this factory went to practically every civilized country on the face of the globe. Mr. Stearns transferred the Gile to his grandson but the factory closed thereafter. Later the building was rented to a company called Bates Lundington Company which made cylinder heads and shipped them all over. That didn't last too many years when a new company took over the building and manufactured card tables. That company went bankrupt. The building was closed for a short time when the city school system bought it and made it into a garage to house the school buses. Now they are thinking of demolishing the building and a marina is to be built. All of this history but not one thing on the manufacturing and distribution of their farm tractor.
Enclosed is a picture of the main frame and wheels. Most rest of parts are inside my garage awaiting winter and time to work on the tractor. I contacted Rolland Maxwell (As I Saw It column) who has been very helpful. He says tractor is very rare and the only one he knows of. Please! if any of your readers knows anything about this machine at all, would you have them contact me. Pictures would be especially helpful and I will be more than willing to pay for them. Some characteristics are: front wheel drive with single rear wheel off-set steering; two cylinder opposed, water-cooled engine; name, Gile Tractor & Engine Co. is cast on engine block and stamped on a brass plate mounted along with the serial number and mounted on the governor housing. Could it be that only the engine was manufactured by Gile and put on someone else's tractor? We don't believe so, but it's a possibility. 'Nuff said and thanks again for your help.