Wayne Whitely of R 1, Abilene, Kansas 67410 is the proud owner
of a rare O.M.C. tractor. He has gathered some information on the
O.M.C., including a sales brochure and a January 18, 1939 article
from the Salina, Kansas Journal.
According to the news article, F. Amos Ostenberg, a partner in
the Ostenberg Motor Parts Company, built a tractor, with an
investment of $3,000.00 in a year’s time. The interesting thing
about the tractor is how it was put together:
‘The machine is ‘assembled.’ That is, as Amos
Ostenberg explains, it is put together from stock parts of regular
auto makers. This is made possible by the design of the frame, an
exclusive patent, known as a T-type box made out of six inch angle
‘The only parts that are made and will be made in future
models by Ostenberg, are the frame which makes such assembly
possible, the enclosed, oil-bathed chain drive, front-axle
assembly, and such accessories as grill, hood and tanks.’
The rubber tired tractor had a 12-20 rating and was designed to
pull two 14 inch plows, a six or eight foot combine, or any
standard equipment. The tractor was expected to debut at a Wichita
tractor show in February, 1939.
F. A. Ostenberg and his brother Luther began an auto parts
business in Salina in 1918. Their father had been in the tractor
and implement business. Construction of the tractor was scheduled
to take place in the Ostenberg Motor Parts Company building at 136
South Fifth Street, Salina, and employees were reportedly
enthusiastic about beginning production. The article continues:
‘The Salina man doesn’t know just how he happened to get
into the tractor manufacturing game. He says that ‘over a year
ago I got the idea for the T-box frame, wondered why nobody had
used it before, and went ahead and started building some to see how
it would work. It works,’ Tractors are not strange to him
anyway. He farms 360 acres of land at his home one and one-half
miles south of Wesleyan on US-81. He has owned 240 acres there for
ten years and says he likes farming and makes money at it.’
The specifications on the Ostenberg Manufacturing Company (OMC)
brochure give the details of the tractor’s construction and
details as follows:
Engine: Chrysler Industrial; L-head, 6 cylinder;
37/16‘ bore x 4?’ stroke, 237 cu. in.
Lubricating: Pressure to camshaft, main and connecting rod
bearings. Replaceable cartridge-type oil filter. Positive crankcase
ventilation. Steering, transmission, differential and final drive
gears run in oil.
Power: Full three-four plow drawbar power in average, plowing
conditions and other implements in proportion.
Cooling: Tubular radiator; water pump circulation; 18′
6-blade fan; capacity of cooling system 20 quarts.
Governor: Mechanical, fully enclosed, variable speed with hand
Ignition: Battery ignition system with automatic spark
Fuel System: Gravity feed from tank; gasoline capacity, 15
Transmission: Heavy Duty–5 speeds forward and one reverse.
Speeds: At 1800 R.P.M.: Low, 2?; second, 4?; third, 6; fourth,
10?; high, 19; reverse, 2?.
Clutch: Single-plate, 11 in. diameter disc.
Steering: Heavy duty, worm and sector type providing finger-tip
response. 17? diameter steering wheel. Draw Bar: Swinging or fixed
position. Carburetor: Zenith, up-draft. Air Cleaner: Donaldson, oil
bath. Drive Wheels: Rubber 12-38, 13-38 or 14-34. Front Wheels:
5.50-16. Drive Wheel Treas: 56′-84′ variable in multiples
Brakes: Hydraulic rear wheel service brakes, 16′ diameter x
2 ?’ wide, individual pedals permit pivoting on either rear
wheel or applied together for master brake control. Hand brake
operates on drum at rear of transmission.
Starter and Lights: Electric, from 6-volt battery.
The tractor’s wide-arch front axle was said to give all
advantages of standard tread operation plus the extra clearance and
wide range of adjustments for work in various row crops. In a few
minutes’ time the width could be changed form 55 to 76 inches.
This feature could be purchased as an extra attachment or installed
on a new tractor. A power take-off was also available.
Wayne Whitely tells us that his tractor had a 230 c.i. 6 and 4
speed engine, but he says most had a 236 c. i. big block and a 5
speed. ‘A few had fluid drive, also. The tractors were made one
at a time and each was a kind of individual. The later ones had
Wayne’s tractor was one of the first built after World War
II. The OMC is just a drawbar tractor with no serial number on any
tractor. The tractors were red with a hand-painted OMC. The later
ones had yellow wheels.
The Ostenberg plant burned down in 1954 after making about 50
tractors, and all records went with the fire. We wonder whether
there are other OMC owners out there?