By Staff
article image

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.

Gas Engine Magazine
Gas Engine Magazine
Preserving the History of Internal Combustion Engines