As the second decade of the 20th century opened, the M. Rumely Products Co. of LaPorte, Ind., was feeling pretty optimistic. As well they should have, given the growing success of their recently introduced line of OilPull tractors. The Rumely Oil Pull, built in numerous guises, was ultimately one of the most popular and successful tractor lines of its time, and as its popularity grew, so too did the M. Rumely Co.
Looking to broaden its product line, in 1911 Rumely bought out Gaar Scott & Co., Richmond, Ind. Advance Thresher Co., Battle Creek, Mich., was purchased around the same time, and in l912 Rumely bought out Northwest Thresher Co., Stillwater, Minn.
Rumely was gunning for Northwest's Universal 20-40 gasoline tractor, a machine they figured would fit in nicely with their line of OilPulls. Interestingly, the Universal 20-40 was itself the product of a 1911 merger between Northwest Thresher and Universal Tractor Co., Stillwater, Minn.
Renamed the Rumely Gas Pull, the 20-40 was rerated as a 15-30 and sold alongside Rumely's OilPull line. Sales were evidently brisk at first, but ultimately the GasPull was a disappointment. Production apparently ceased in 1913, and by 1915 the model was gone from the Rumely line. Interestingly, the 1915 Rumely publicity photo below shows three Gas Pulls being delivered in May of that year - a full two years after production supposedly stopped.
The photo above was sent in by reader and regular contributor David Babcock. According to David, the picture, which was taken in 1915, shows Herb Geckeler, Caro, Mich., standing against the rear driver while another, unidentified man looks on.
David assumes they were in the middle of road work when the photo was taken, and it's obvious from looking at the GasPull that it was a well-used machine. With its decals faded and its paint looking fairly much worked away, Herb obviously kept this tractor in constant service.
David has fond memories of Herb, and in fact bought his first engine from him in 1965, paying $15 for a 1-1/2 HP Hercules. As David relates the story, David's father paid Herb the money, and told Herb it was soon to be David's birthday. 'He reached into his pocket and gave me a silver dollar,' Herb says. 'It's funny how you remember things.'
Contact engine enthusiast David Babcock at: 3491 E. Deckerville Road, Cass City, Ml 48726.