HAPPY FARMER TRACTOR

By Staff
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Courtesy of Amos B. Stauffer, R. D. 3, Ephrata, Pennsylvania 17522
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Courtesy of Amos B. Stauffer, R. D. 3, Ephrata, Pennsylvania 17522
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Courtesy of Geo. D. Winter, Route I, Box 327, Pipestone, Minnesota 56164
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Courtesy of Amos B. Stauffer, R. D. 3, Ephrata, Pennsylvania 17522
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Courtesy of Millard Winter, Hellam, York Co., Pennsylvania 17336
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Courtesy of Millard Winter, Hellam, York Co., Pennsylvania 17336
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Courtesy of Geo. D. Winter, Route I, Box 327. Pipestone, Minnesota 56164
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Courtesy of Geo. D. Winter. Route I. Box 327, Pipestone, Minnesota 56164
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Courtesy of Geo. D. Winter, Route 1. Box 327, Pipestone, Minnesota 56164
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Courtesy of Geo. D. Winter, Route 1, Box 327. Pipestone, Minnesota 56164

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.

Before the year was up, the Happy Farmer Tractor Company was
consolidated with the Sta-Rite Engine Company of LaCrosse,
Wisconsin, a long established enterprise in a line already starting
to wane. Farm engines were bring made in nearly every county-seat
foundry in the country, and the big companies were locked in a
death struggle that choked oil profit, the center of the fight
being between IHC and Fairbanks-Morse.

After the consolidation, H. F. Hamey of Happy Farmer continued
as general manager and director. The other directors were II. J.
Hirshheimer, who was vice-president of the LaCrosse Plow Company of
LaCrosse, together with I,. F. Faslman L,. C. Coleman, W. B.
Tseharnar and L. S. Swenson. Probably the Hirshheimers were
interested in Sta-Rite. They were a public spirited clan. They also
developed the unit lift tractor gang plow. One of their present
monuments is the tillage plant of Allis-Chalmers Mfg. Company at
LaCrosse, to whom the Hirshheimers sold out ultimately
Incidentally, the name of the newly consolidated company was
changed to La-Crosse Tractor Company, but they retained the name
Happy Farmer for their three-wheel tractors up to 1920, when later
models were changed to standard four-wheel machines. Their model G
12-24 was tested No. 29 at Nebraska in 1920. It, as well as all
preceding Happy Farmers, were equipped with 2-cylinder horizontal
twin engines designed for kerosene. They had Madison-Kipp
lubricators using the fresh-oil lubrication system with no splash
in the crankcase.. Folks knew lots about dilution in those days and
paid considerable to avoid it.

This Model G developed 24.23 HP maximum belt and 17.83 maximum
drawbar. Fuel consumption was evidently disappointing to the
management, as the figures recorded left them vulnerable to
competition. They never really advanced after the Nebraska test
report was published as they had before based on field
performance.

Happy Farmers had independent wheel brakes after the
differential so that by locking one brake, all the power went to
the opposite wheel and the tractor would pivot, as Mr. Turnbull
recalls.

The machines were also unique in having optional line-drive
controls by four ‘reins’. Two were used for guiding, one
for starting and one for stopping. The Nebraska test engineers
worked up courage to line-drive the Happy Farmer and expressed
almost elation at the performance.

This tractor was built in 1906 for my parents who had a small
farm. It has a 1? York Gas engine, grass mower wheels and gears
make up the tractor. When it was built it ran ten miles on its own
power to the farm. My mother used it to operate the butter churn
and washing machine. It was used on the farm to run the grindstone,
woodsaw, feed grinder and chaff piler threshing machine. It is in
no good running condition now.

A nice scene. I’ll bet the kids had fun in that hay later –
Anna Mae.

There was little to be elated about in many of those early
tractor tests except for the performance of a few machines, notably
the Aultman-Taylor 0-60 which developed 58 HP on the drawbar. In
contrast, when the Avery 40-80 went out to Lincoln, it could only
show 65 HP maximum on the belt. The factory prony brake was all out
of kilter and had the Avery men illusioned. That test and the one
on the Avery track-runner sounded the tocsin for them.

The original Happy Farmer models were the A 8-16 with a twin
5×6? engine and a B 12-24 with a 5-3/4x7. In
the G this was stretched to 5×7. Later, around 1920, a small model
rated at 7-12 HP with a twin 4×6 engine was listed. This was before
the days of cultivating tractors such as the Farmall, so it is
doubtful what market this small tractor was intended to tap.

The LaCrosse Tractor Company was not active after the 1921
depression. The catastrophic Fordson price reduction to S395 in
1923 must have deprived the Happy Farmer management of all
hope.

The company continued to be listed in the FIN Buyer’s Guide
directory up to and including 1924 but was out of the 1925 edition.
Someone in LaCrosse, probably the Hirshheimers, must have made
arrangements for supplying repairs, for LaCrosse Tractor Company
continued to be listed as a repair source until after World War
II.

5Hp. Root & Vanderwood, No. D 358. It is tank cooled, side
shaft igniter in head uses make and break coil and batteries.

6 Hp. Galloway, No. 15844 that I have restored. It has igniter,
make and break coil and batteries. Also a 3 Hp. Vertical Novo.

7 Hp. Economy (Sears), No. 87386. It has magneto and
igniter.

First engine with radiator 4 Hp. Vertical Cushman, Model C 7 –
about 1925. IHC LA 1?-2? No. 13139. 1? Hp. Sandwich, vertical – No.
T 754. 4 Hp. New Way, air-cool, Type F 2498. 1? Hp. Rawleigh, No.
AA 16538. Some of the many engines I have restored.

5 Hp. Waterloo Boy, Type ‘H’, No. 240895.

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