A THUMBNAIL SKETCH OF A SYNDICATE COMPANY
Illustration from a Viking Garden Tractor catalog.
15090 State Route BB St. James, Missouri 65559 (573)- 265-7030 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Though launched in 1929 with a charter to develop a garden tractor to replace the 'heavy' horse on the farm, Allied was not marketing a product nationally before 1931.
After this, though, Allied operated out of Minneapolis and New York City from 1931 through 1937. The company address changed slightly during these years for unknown reasons.2
The order of production at the Allied works roughly parallels the syndicate's success. From 1929 to 1931, a completely new design was developed and tested. This was the 'B' model Viking Twin. As many as 64,000 units of this tractor may have been made before the next major design change occurred.4 Later, after the design strengths and deficiencies of the 'B' were identified, it was clear that a less expensive design would serve, and these were incorporated into both the next generation of Viking Twin, the 'F' model, and the new Standard Twin design as well. Both of these machines were introduced in 193. Sharing the same engine, clutch, and transmission as the Standard Twin5 , the parts interchangeability only made sense during the depression era. Finally, the CF Viking twin, a virtual clone of the Standard Twin in different sheet metal was in production beginning in 1937. Things were clicking along in grand fashion until December of 1941, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.
Wartime use of resources was very strictly controlled by the government, and the availability of raw material to produce parts made further production of Allied equipment impossible. Because of this, under the guise of helping out with the war effort, Allied ceased production in early 1942. After the war, they made another appearance with a tractor that used a pre-made engine and an assembled frame. They did not survive long in the market with this new, cheaper, approach.
In 1952, when the syndicate was first sold away from its founders, things began to change all across the companies. The Viking name was resurrected, and a series of composite machines were put into production beginning in 1953. The tractors were to be called the Viking 3 A, 4 A and 7A. These tractors used Kohler engines of 3, 4, and 7 HP respectively. The chassis, or frame and driving gear of all these Vikings were the same, with only the different engine justifying a name change. Initially though, in 1953, only the Viking 3A was available.
In 1958, after the syndicate had been sold again in 1957, American Farm Machinery, now located in New York Mills, Minnesota, continued to market the line of composite machines all called Viking this or that. The Suburbanite was also changed from the Kinkade Suburbanite to the Viking Suburbanite. Ultimately, after the New York Mills operation began, tractor sales were weak at best, and the Viking name was attached to boat trailers, fence posts, and other sundry stuff which had little or nothing to do with the garden tractor line, in an effort to keep the company going. By the early 1960s, the company closed its doors for the last time, long after garden tractor production had ceased.
Footnotes1 It is inferred by me that development of the twin cylinder engine began or that the engine was in production in 1929 based on Tillotson carburetor usage records.
2 This inference was extracted from advertising, or lack thereof, in farming magazines of the period
3 The 'B' is thus named by me because its major castings all begin with a 'B,' as was typical in the syndicate operation. It is reasonable to infer that 'B' castings originated for use on this machine, though they were subsequently used on others as well
4 The machine count is based on numbers stamped into the engine blocks. Numbers ranging from 1410 to 64156 have been found.
5 The standard twin engine differs from the 'B' Viking engine in several ways: the 'B' crankshaft is mounted on Timken roller bearings, the Standard Twin engine runs on bushings. The 'B' Viking engine has exposed valve springs, the Standard Twin engine valve springs are enclosed. The 'B' Viking engine uses a hollow camshaft with internal bushings, running upon a fixed shaft. The Standard Twin uses bushings for the solid camshaft to run upon.
6 This statement is based on an interview with one of the New York Mills investors who backed the purchase and relocation of American Farm Machinery to New York Mills, MN.
Editor's Note: Mark Bookout is working on a book about garden tractors, which we plan to publish early next year. He is seeking information regarding tractors made by this conglomerate. He would also like to find a Beeman tractor to buy.