The History of Speedex

| April/May 2001

  • Speedex Model B
    Cliff Heath's 1939 Model B Speedex.
  • Model B Speedex
    Cliff Heath's 1939 Model B Speedex.

  • Speedex Model B
  • Model B Speedex

325 Plain Road, Hinsdale, New Hampshire 03451

I found the following piece on the Internet and thought some of you might be interested in seeing it, along with some photos of my 1939 Speedex Model B.

The Speedex Tractor Corporation was founded in 1935 by Harold Pond, who is considered the developer of the first four wheel riding garden tractor in America. Harold Pond was associated in the late 1920s with Stanley W. Shaw of the Shaw Mfg. Company in Galesburg, Kansas, who fabricated walk behind garden tractors and outdoor power equipment from reclaimed motorcycle and automobile parts. Harold Pond, Elmer Pond and Glen Heilman all worked for Shaw at one time. These three dispersed to Ohio and Indiana to form their own companies and develop their own tractors. Harold Pond developed the Speedex line of tractors in Ravenna, Ohio. Harold's brother Elmer and his son Cecil developed the Wheel Horse line of tractors in the South Bend, Indiana area. Harold's brother-in-law Glen Heilman developed the Garden-All line of tractors in Mishawaka, Indiana. Glen was married to Harold's wife's sister. These three, who grew up in Galesburg, Kansas, were responsible for many innovations in the lawn and garden tractor industry.

While Harold was working for Shaw he was assigned the territories of Ohio and Pennsylvania. During that time he developed the Speedex walk-behind tractor. In 1935 he founded Speedex Tractor Company and began making a riding tractor called the Model B Speedex. It had tiller steering, Briggs & Stratton Model ZZ air cooled engine, and the tractor utilized a Ford Model A transmission and a Ford model T rear axle which was narrowed to suit the tractor.

The Speedex Model B was the first riding four wheel garden tractor with an air cooled engine and pneumatic tires.

According to a letter from Mrs. Harold Pond: 'When Harold brought out his first riding tractor, the Speedex Model B, it outsold his walking model by far. He started a national advertising campaign on his new riding tractor and they sold like Carter sold liver pills. We were married in March 1939 and did not take our honeymoon until the slack season commenced.'

During this period Harold also developed a larger tractor, the Model FG, Farm and Garden, which used the Ford Model A four cylinder 200 cubic inch engine.

In approximately 1948 Henry Ford called Harold and told him that he was competing with his tractor business and Ford would no longer sell them components. At this point Harold developed his own transmission and rear axle, which were in the Models M16, M23 and M25 tractors.

All of these early Speedex tractors are highly prized by collectors.

After 20 years of success and growth, Harold Pond sold the business in 1955 to Maury Foote and Jerry Stowe. Jerry was a school teacher and a successful potato farmer, specializing in varieties for the potato chip market. Maury, a graduate of the Eastman School of Music, was a teacher, then a manufacturer of road sign hardware, then a structural engineer, fabricator and salesman. They further developed the line of garden tractors. They adapted a front mounted mowing deck which was attached to the front axle. This was the first four wheel riding mower in America. They continued improving their design and adding new tools and implements. Their production reached the optimum capacity of 1,000 units a year and remained stable until they sold the company.

In 1969 Speedex was acquired by General Combustion in Alliance, Ohio. General Combustion subsequently merged with Mechtron International which was located in Orlando, Florida. These companies were operated by the E. J. Elliott family. The company under their direction developed many new models and increased production up to a peak of 1,500 units per year. They developed the first full floating mower deck design and later introduced the Model 832 which was the first diesel powered garden tractor to be manufactured in America.

In 1977 Speedex Tractor was acquired by Trans Tech International, Ltd.


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