| January/February 1973

History Department, Clarendon College, Clarendon, Texas 79226.

Tractor experimentation and development is a fascinating aspect of the history of agriculture in the United States. Deere and Company's search for a workable model prior to their purchase of the Waterloo Gasoline Engine Company took them down several avenues of design.

Development of these various models often ran concurrently so that, by way of comparison, company officers could weigh the merits of various design approaches. By utilizing both factory testing and farm observation, Deere designed and revised numerous models of motor cultivators and general purpose machines. None however met with the final approval of the Board of Directors and it was not until the introduction of the Model D, in 1923, that Deere produced a wholly company-engineered tractor for the market.

This last story of Deere's pre-Water-loo Boy experimental work concerns a final general purpose, two plow tractor design, the Sklovsky tractor; and, in many ways a retrogression, the Walter Silver tractor; a motor cultivator. Again, both were evolutionary vehicles of design ideas, yet both were doomed because of the coming of World War I, the sharp agricultural depression after the war and simply because they lacked the desired flexibility needed.

George W. Mixter, a great grandson of John Deere and vice-president in charge of manufacturing, charged Max Sklovsky with the development of a two plow tractor design. Sklovsky was allowed considerable latitude in his approach but board sentiment seemed favorable to an all-wheel drive tractor. Working at the Marseilles Plant on the design under Sklovsky's supervision were E. R. Wiggins, George Pearce and Nathan Lesser, all in the John Deere Engineering Department.

The first model of the Sklovsky, labeled the A-2, used a one piece, cast-iron body which included the engine pan, undoubtedly the first tractor to have the entire body made from one casting. The tractor was a three wheel, all-wheel drive model with a wagon-type axle in front. The A-2 was built concurrently with Joseph Dain's three plow model. The tractor was first field tested November 20, 1915, and continued until freeze-up December 12, 1915. Steering the A-2 was virtually impossible. With power driven front wheels and no differential the operator was hard pressed to overcome the torque of the engine. Other than its glaring steering defect, the performance was acceptable.


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