| September/October 1968

RD3, Ephrata, Pa. 17522

Alter writing to Kitty for help to identify my three wheel tractor on which the name Gilt: Tractor & Engine Company, Ludington, Michigan, I received a letter from Mr. Adler Fjone of Flaxville, Montana, also Mr. Dalbert C. Johnson of Duluth, Minnesota. Combining information and further cleaning and sanding my tractor I learned quite a bit, but information on the original Happy Farmer Tractor of Minneapolis, Minnesota prior to its change over into LaCrosse Tractor Company, LaCrosse, Wisconsin, is still very lean. The thrill that comes once in a lifetime was mine as I was sanding the fenders for painting. Some lettering started to show up in a circle and in the center appeared a farmer facing me with a big broad smile. I would not elaborate who smiled the most as I too hurriedly sanded away his hiding coat of red paint. I finally cooled down a little as with too much sanding he started in spots to disappear and the original paint under the lettering started to show, about Omaha Orange.

The 1909 Happy Farmer, Manufactured by THE HAPPY FARMER TRACTOR COMPANY, Minneapolis, Minnesota with a 2 cylinder opposed Gile engine 5' bore 6?' stroke, 8-16 HP oiled by a Madison Kipp drip oiler operated by a Pitman and crank on end of camshaft, drips oil into pipes to main bearings, cylinders and rods. No oil level maintained in crankcase. In running it sounds much like a steam engine with its long 7' diameter steel pipe frame and muffler. It has I forward and I reverse gear under 3 MPH. Battery ignition with an Atwater Kent Unisparker distributor and Bennett carburetor; no fuel pump. 750 RPM the engine is 'cranked' at the flywheel, between engine and transmission, with a hook-type handle or lever to edge of flywheel face. They say if it kicks it will either pull you in over the tractor or crack your arm out of joint. No brakes other than pulley brake, so when you are out of gear you are out of brakes. No drivers platform. The lone front wheel tracks with right rear wheel. This tractor was in a dealer's shed new, never sold until 1955 at Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania when a gentleman bought it from Montoursville, Pennsylvania for show purposes. It was not learned who hid it under the red paint, but somebody wanted it painted and ignored all decals and orginal colors of orange and yellow. The children call it the 'Candy Tractor'. Last spring from this gentlemen's sale, my two friends Mr. John Fenninger and Mr. Elias Beiler helped me to obtain this tractor. My desires to own a Happy Farmer were gradually built up by the stories dad used to tell of one he owned prior to 1918. It was sold to him by a LaCrosse dealer who recommended burning kerosene; but this was no success, with all special attachments, because of its long cold intake manifold. I can see now where it is not successfully vaporized.

If anyone can correct or add to the information I have so far received, I would appreciate very much hearing from you. Especially welcome would be history prior to 1916 as the following information seems to he mostly later.

The Happy Farmer tractor originally was one of the three-wheelers that sprouted in the Twin Cities after the Bull tractor demonstrated what a tractor sales cylone was. Bulls were shipped by train-loads to distributors with most of them sold on down payment before the freight bills were paid.

We first heard of the Happy Farmer Tractor Company of Minneapolis early in 1916. In fact, one of the first news items records the appointment of Wm. A. Jones, for many years editor of the IMPLEMENT TRADE JOURNAL (as IMPLEMENT & TRACTOR originally was called) as advertising manager of Happy Farmer Tractor. George II. Massey took over the editorial chair at ITJ. B. F. Hamey was president of Happy Farmer.

Archie Alderdice
2/17/2010 10:24:40 AM

I can make fuel tanks for Happy Farmer tractors to original spec.