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Looking for Utilitors

Author Photo
By Staff

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Joe Smith's restored 1938 Utilitor Model 4, Joe at the controls.
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The Utilitor as found. Note the broken frame at the rear and rotting wheels.
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An early Utilitor advertisement. Utilitor began operations in Indianapolis, Ind., in 1918

Hi, I am Joe Smith, one of the founders of the Vintage Garden
Tractor Club.

Before the club ever got off the ground I was at a show at
Symco, Wis. I was showing my antique snowmobiles at the parade,
pulling them on a trailer with an old garden tractor I had bought,
and a fellow asked me if I would be interested in taking a look at
one of his garden tractors. He called it a Utilitor. A couple of
months later I went to his house, and in his garage laid an inline,
4-cylinder Wisconsin engine with a hood on it. Embossed on the
front of the hood was the word ‘Utilitor.’ As you can see
in the picture, the back half of the frame was broken and the
wheels were rotted away. So I bought the tractor, took it home, and
I restored it.

As the club started to grow I was contacted by another man from
New York. He sent me a picture of a garden tractor that was in his
barn, a single-cylinder, walk behind, water-cooled garden tractor,
called a Utilitor. We couldn’t agree on a price.

Three years later a few of us members were going to our national
show in Canada, and on the way through Michigan we stopped at one
of the members of the club to stay overnight. While we were there
he suggested that we should all go over to a friend of his to see
his collection of garden tractors. I don’t know the exact
number, but it looked like he had over 250. In one of the buildings
there were two Utilitors, one restored and one not restored. Being
the ultra-conservative man that I am (some may wish to use the word
cheap), you would think I would buy the one not restored. Instead,
I broke down and paid twice as much (ouch) and bought the one
already restored. I did this so I would have two already restored
to show. It is a Model 500, about 1920.

We were already loaded, so I told the man I would be back in a
couple of weeks to pick up the Utilitor. Then when I came back to
his place we sat down and talked about how he got the tractor. To
my surprise it was the same Utilitor from New York I was tempted to
buy three years ago.

Now the third Utilitor I added to my collection happened about a
year and a half ago. A fellow wrote to me from Waupaca, Wis. He
wanted to know if I would be interested in a tractor he had called
an Utilitor. It was a two-cylinder, water-cooled walk behind with a
Nova engine in it. It’s a Model 26 W, and there was also a
Model 26 air-cooled, and Models 25 (5 HP) and 24 (4 HP)
air-cooled.

There is one other tractor I would like to add to my collection,
it’s called an Auto-Tiller, made by the World Harvester
Corporation from New York City. If anyone has a line on one of
these, please write to me. You can find our club on the web at:

www.network2010.net/~jsmith/dwebp.html

Contact garden tractor enthusiast Joe Smith at: PO Box 420,
Redgranite, WI 54970.

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