THE TIGER HUNT GOES ON!

By Staff
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Tigers all in a row at last year's Collector's Meet.
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Phil Bucher's Tiger from Centerport, NY.
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Tom Rinker's Tiger from Keiper WV

Rt 4, Box 149A, Keyser, West Virginia 26726

Keyser, West Virginia is the home of a unique little tractor
with a lot of history. Last year this little garden gem made its
modern day debut, with the first time ever Tiger Tractor
Collector’s Meet. Once again, those West Virginia made Tigers
are being honored with a collector’s meet and antique car show
being held on Sunday, September 22, 1991. This proud get-together
is hosted by the Upper Potomac Vintage Auto Club in conjunction
with the town’s annual Founder’s Day Festival.

Last year’s first event proved to be most successful, with a
total of 21 Tiger Tractors appearing from as far away as
Centerport, New York. Tigers were located, however, as far away as
Spokane, Washington! Along with the first Tiger Tractor
Collector’s Meet came the first ever fact-filled history book
about this little garden tractor. A 109 page booklet had been
compiled and was given to those who attended.

What makes this little garden tractor so special? The Tiger
Tractor was built in Keyser, West Virginia in a privately owned
manufacturing plant which operated from 1948 until the early
1960’s when the company went bankrupt. Many different models
were made ranging from 41/2 HP to 91/2 HP. The earlier models were
operated using a hand clutch, while later ones had a three-speed
transmission and differential. The average Tiger was sold with five
attachments, including snow plow, garden plows, discs, sickle bar,
belly mower, and other pieces. According to one informant, who
actually worked at the plant and painted the finished machine, the
original colors were green and yellow with white letters.

The manufacturer stated ‘the model 920 was better than other
similar American tractors. The reason is that it is backed by 20
years experience in the small tractor field by the company that
invented and marketed the first small tractor in the world. The
Tiger has no belts; instead, uses heavy duty gears, drive shafts
and heat treated steel gearing throughout!’

For several years, the Tiger was produced in many models, some
of which were functional, but crude by our standards. This was
mainly to keep the cost down, we assume, since better technology
was available. As the competition began to grow, the need for
better tractors was obvious. The president of the Tiger Company,
Mr. John Somerville, asked Mr. J. B. Kuhn of Keyser to develop a
prototype of an improved tractor, later to be the model C100. This
was a top-of-the-line tractor. However, it appears its production
and increased cost helped bring an end to this model. The original
prototype, now owned by Mr. Kuhn’s son, Robert, was on display
at the first collector’s meet and we hope to see it again this
year.

It is unfortunate that this little garden tractor, once called
‘America’s Finest Small Tractor’ had a life span of
only seventeen years. The Tiger Tractor is, however, now making a
comeback, at least to the garden tractor collector. Uncover those
forgotten little garden tractors and you may be surprised to find
you are harboring one of those unique garden gems, The Tiger! The
Upper Potomac Vintage Auto Club wants to know! Anyone with a Tiger,
information, or just an interest is invited to attend this special
event on Sunday, September 22, 1991 in Keyser, West Virginia, home
of the Tiger Tractor. If you have information or a Tiger, contact
David Frederick, Rt. 4, Box 149A, Keyser, WV 26726 or call
304-788-6644. Those Tigers are out there and still roaring!

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