| September/October 1970

Dain tractor

Courtesy of Lowell Carson, History Department, Midwestern University, Wichita Falls, Texas 76308.

Lowell Carson

History Department Midwestern University Wichita Falls, Texas 76308

While collecting material for my thesis I found a copy of a book by Theo Brown, Early Tractor Development which was published in 1953 by John Deere and Company of Moline, Illinois. Apparently never widely distributed because of the limited appeal such a book would have, I found it of great value in writing about a company's pre-production experimental work with tractor models. And I wish to state here my indebtedness to John Deere for their cooperation in allowing me to research their library. A primary debt of gratitude must go to Theo Brown for his foresight in preserving some record of early experimental tractor work.

Before John Deere acquired an established tractor line with the purchase of the assets of the Waterloo Gasoline Engine Company, March 14,1918, Deere had spent at least six years experimenting with tractors. Deere's experimentation included some innovations unique in tractor design at that time. They included the following: the Sklovsky one-piece east iron body, the Melvin integral power lift; and the Dain tractor transmission. The major portion of this paper concerns this last named experimental tractor, the Dain. While preceeded by the Melvin and succeeded by the Sklovsky, the Dain has special significance because it was the first tractor to bear the name John Deere on its hood.

The story begins officially March 5, 1912 with an Executive Committee resolution.

Resolved: That in view of the inevitable future use by the farmers for diverse purposes of gasoline and kerosene tractors, and especially since the trend is to use them in connection with implements, particularly plows, it seems vital to the interests of the Company that serious cognizance should be taken of the situation, and that through its experimental department, the personnel and talent of which shall be increased, if necessary, a movement to produce a tractor plow should be started at once having in view constantly, that the success of the same would be enhanced if not assured, were it possible to divorce the tractor from the plow and thus make it available for general purposes.

After a survey of the tractor industry and a report by a committee headed by George W. Mixter, Deere's official effort was fixed on the motor plow avoiding the heavy and small tractor classes as being already crowded.