Handy Trak Walk-Behind Tractor

| May/June 2000

While conversing with my friend Alvin Bunting of Bridgeton, New Jersey, I mentioned that I had purchased a Handy Trak single-wheeled walk-behind tractor made by the Marlboro Machine Company, Inc. of Bridgeton, New Jersey. Alvin, who resided on Marlboro Road, not only knew the now deceased owner, George Simpkins, but had assisted the owner on occasion at the small machine shop behind the Simpkins' residence located nearby on Jerico Road.

Thanks to the assistance of Terri Fuller, who resides near the former residence of George Simpkins, daughter Carol Bell and her husband Paul, who had moved, were located, and they enthusiastically shared photos and letters, some of which were furnished by her brother Russell who lives in Texas.

She recalled that her father probably started making the little garden tractor shortly after WW II in a small building he built behind their old home. Her grandfather 'Pop' Simpkins, Uncle Stanley 'Tick' Simpkins, Uncle Harold 'Butter' Simpkins, her brother Russell, Alvin Bunting, Buster DuBois, Allen Howell, and her mother Ann, who handled the company books, worked as needed during production of the Handy Trak.

The number of Handy Traks made cannot be documented at this time, but Paul believes approximately 145 walk-behind units were made during the short time the company strived to compete in the competitive market. It retailed for $145.00, and attachments were priced separately. A brochure reflects the engine was a 1? HP 4 cycle Clinton air-cooled gas engine. It had a patented rocker arm, cam type clutch with variable speeds of ? to 4 mph. It weighed 146 lbs, chain driven, one 4.00 x 8 tire, and 6 to 1 gear reduction. Another brochure depicts the Handy Trak without the cast iron wheel fender, and the specifications indicate it weighed 116 lbs. which may indicate an effort to compete in a seemingly crowded market led by giants like David Bradley, Planet Jr., Bolens, Simplicity, Standard, and many others.

The Handy Trak was painted either red or red and green. For some unknown reason on at least one cast fender the name of the Marlboro Machine Company is misspelled and Marlboro was spelled 'Maulboro.'

Salutory letters dated during 1948 reflect the garden tractor performed quite well. A letter dated September 27, 1948 from E. B. McCormick, Sales Manager, and written on company letterhead, reflects a list of additional attachments for the Handy Trak.