9915 Trent Avenue Spokane, WA 99206
The following write up and drawings of the old Ohio tractor are
taken from the 1914 book, The Modern Gas Tractor, also from the
March 1912 issue of Gas Power Magazine.
My uncle, August Harsch, owned one of these big Ohio tractors.
He bought it used in about 1913 or 1914 when he was farming in
I do not know what my uncle ever accomplished with it, but by
1920 it was sitting idle, all by itself in a sandy field surrounded
by scrub trees, many miles from the nearest town.
We visited this old tractor many times during the 1930’s but
never took a picture of it. The last time we saw it was in 1936. It
was complete then and looked like it could be run, with all fuel
and water tanks intact and in place.
This was the only Ohio that I have ever seen and I have never
heard of another one anywhere. If there was one left anywhere in
the U. S. or Canada I would surely make a trip just to see one
again…. anyone having such a tractor, please welcome a visitor
from Washington State.
A study of the drawings of the Ohio show that the power plant
along with the trucks were quite well engineered by 1912 standards,
but the small spinning roller friction drive wheels must have been
a musical dream when the tractor was in motion, and a nightmare
when worn out of adjustment.
No power starting is shown nor mentioned. Most likely it was
started by turning the flywheel forward and, if so, with a five
shaft gearing layout. Final drive would probably be an internal
bull gear and pinion arrangement.
The high narrow cooling tower suggest that this may have been a
dry or partially dry water cooler, with reserve water stored in one
or more tanks.
The tractor was equipped with roller friction power
Hopefully someone out there in Engine land will come up with
more information on this old time beauty, that was designed, built,
sold and disappeared all in the space of a few years.
Any suggestions, news or corrections would be interesting to all
tractor collectors, and to the folks at Poverty Flats, E. 9915
Trent Avenue, Spokane, Washington, 99206.
Another form of friction clutch in which a friction wheel is
employed is shown at Figs. 101 and 102. The view of the mechanism
at Fig. 101 shows clearly the mounting of the friction wheels for
driving a movable cross shaft, which in this case is parallel with
the engine crank shaft. This main driving shaft, which extends
across the frame, is provided with a friction driving wheel at each
end and carries a pair of sliding gears which may be engaged with
either one or two gears on the transmission cross shaft placed
immediately back of the main driving shaft that carries the
friction wheels. The gears on the transmission cross shaft are of
different diameters, one being smaller than the other, as is true
of the sliding gears on the squared main shaft. Before discussing
the method of obtaining speed changes or final drive it will be
well to consider the action of the friction rollers.
The engine carries two large flywheel members, which are so
arranged, one at each side of the frame, that the friction wheels
employed for driving fit in an annular channel machined between the
inner and outer fly-wheel members. This is clearly shown at Fig.
102-A. The flywheel hub is enlarged and forms one driving member
while the fly-wheel rim, which has a smooth and true inner
periphery, forms the other driving member. When the friction
driving wheels carried by the transmission main shaft are in the
neutral position they are in the space between the inner and outer
fly-wheel driving members, and as the friction roller is not in
contact with either the hub or the rim of the fly-wheel, one member
may revolve independently of the other.
Also the combination tractor-roller, and our tractor hay baler
on which we use our friction drive when baling hay or when running
over the road. Leader steam engines and separators so favorably
known for 25 years, are the goods we manufacture. Caption from an
Ohio Tractor Mfg. ad in March, 1912 Gas Power
To obtain the forward drive, the main shaft is rocked so the
friction wheels are brought in contact with the inside of the
fly-wheel rim. If this is turning in the direction indicated by the
arrow, it will turn the friction roller in the same direction, and
the main shaft is revolving in the same direction as the motor
crank shaft. To obtain a reverse motion of the main shaft the
friction rollers are disengaged from the interior of the flywheel
rim and are pushed against the exterior of the fly-wheel hub, as
indicated at C. This will produce a motion of the main shaft
opposite in direction to that of the crank shaft. The leverage is
proportioned so that very little pressure is necessary at the
operating lever to insure positive drive. The shaft on which the
friction pulleys are keyed is hung on pivoted or eccentric
bearings, which are located in such a way that when the friction
surfaces are brought in contact with each other they will
automatically produce pressure enough to move the load, and as the
resistance augments the driving pressure becomes stronger and the
rolls can transmit the full amount of power generated by the
engine. The friction wheels are made of paper or straw-board fiber
and may be very easily replaced when worn.
It is claimed that the friction drive methods cannot be compared
to the friction clutch because it will give a much smoother and
more flexible drive than is possible with any form of friction
clutch. It is contended that the clutch is too positive a lock
between the driving and driven parts, while the friction rollers
are not so positive in their action. It is also advanced that in
event of sudden shock the friction roller will slip to some extent,
while with the friction clutch, which is positively locked, a
sudden strain will result in breaking a gear or stressing of some
of the transmission parts. With either of the friction drives
described, a one-lever clutch control is obtained and one can
start, stop, or reverse the tractor instantly by using but one
The methods of obtaining the changes of speed on the Ohio
tractor may be easily understood by referring to illustration, Fig.
101. If the sliding gears are shifted along the main shaft, so that
the smallest pinion on the main shaft is in mesh with the largest
gear on the transmission cross shaft the slowest rear-wheel speed
is obtained. If the largest pinion on the main shaft is slid into
engagement with the smallest gear on the transmission cross shaft
the highest rear-wheel speed will be obtained. If the sliding-gear
member on the main shaft is placed at a neutral position so that it
is not in mesh with either gear on the cross shaft, engaging the
friction wheels and the fly-wheel will not produce motion of the
tractor. The drive from the transmission cross shaft is by a pinion
which engages a large gear attached to the differential spider. The
differential gear is attached to a cross shaft to which the bull
pinions, which drive the bull gears on the rear wheels, are
attached. It will be apparent that with the friction roll clutch it
will be possible to obtain the same number of speeds on the reverse
drive as when the tractor is moving ahead.