The Bull With the Pull

The Big Bull Tractor: 1915-1920


| September/October 2002


Introduced to Great Fanfare, the Bull Tractor Was Eagerly Met, But Ultimately Failed to Hold a Market

A victim of time, rusted and scarred by years of exposure to the elements, the Big Bull slumps silently in the shade of a warehouse lean-to. At first glance it resembles a machine assembled from an odd assortment of orphaned parts. The label 'clunker' seems somehow appropriate.

But in 1915 the Bull Tractor Company proudly decreed the Big Bull was the ultimate in tractors. Advertisements for the tractor were over zealous, it would seem, perhaps even somewhat misleading. Or were they? Not surprisingly, this tractor of ungainly appearance has an interesting story.

Origins

Around the time of the WW I, farmers in Canada and the U.S. were accustomed to the huge, powerful tractors being used for threshing on large acreages. Tractors like the Rumely OilPull, the Sawyer-Massey, the Twin City and others were popular. But they were expensive units to own and operate, and farmers operating on a smaller land base were demanding a smaller tractor to meet their needs. World War I placed many demands on society, including the need for more efficient food production, and this in turn spurred the demand for small, general-purpose farm tractors, which were almost non-existent prior to this time.

In a hurried attempt to be one of the first companies to meet market demand for a smaller tractor, the Bull Tractor Company of Minneapolis, Minn., was formed in 1914, introducing its first tractor that same year. For a short time the Bull tractor designed by D.M. Hartsough did seem to meet the need.



The Bull was an awkward-looking three-wheeled tractor. It had one large driving wheel with steel lugs that ran in the furrow, and a smaller 'land wheel' opposite the driving wheel that was smooth-faced and free wheeling, providing balance to the machine. The land wheel also could be adjusted to level the tractor when plowing. The single, steel front wheel was uniquely designed with a large, central spine on the rim and positioned to follow the furrow.

The 1914 model, known as the Little Bull, had a two-cylinder opposed engine rated at 5-12 HP. Unfortunately, the Little Bull was not the tractor sensation it was claimed to be. Underpowered and unproven in the field, it soon fell into disfavor.

John Mastin
2/2/2011 1:00:10 AM

I'm looking for a photo showing the hand throtle placement and how it hooks to the carb on the Big Bull. Thanks John















SUBSCRIBE TO GAS ENGINE MAGAZINE TODAY!

Gas Engine Magazine A_M 16Gas Engine Magazine is your best source for tractor and stationary gas engine information.  Subscribe and connect with more than 23,000 other gas engine collectors and build your knowledge, share your passion and search for parts, in the publication written by and for gas engine enthusiasts! Gas Engine Magazine brings you: restoration stories, company histories, and technical advice. Plus our Flywheel Forum column helps answer your engine inquiries!

Be sure to take advantage of the Square Deal Subscription Program.

  • No Missed Issues.

  • No Renewal Notices.

  • No Additional Cost.

The Square Deal Subscription Program is designed as a paperless transaction with automatic renewals at a preferred low rate.   With advanced electronic notification, a 100% satisfaction guarantee and an easy opt-out plan, the Square Deal Subscription Program is the best value, risk free, eco-friendliest way to subscribe.




Facebook YouTube


Copyright 2018, All Rights Reserved
Ogden Publications, Inc., 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, Kansas 66609-1265