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The History of Speedex

Author Photo
By Staff

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