The Titan Tractor and Power Unit
88 Rock Hollow Road Birdsboro, Pennsylvania 19508
I will take you back before 1900, to the small town of
Geigertown, located in the hills of Pennsylvania with small farms
surrounding it. All of the farms used horses, water, steam and
later gas engines for power, because no electric power was
available. The mechanical revolution was taking place at this
The town had a post office, two churches, a general store,
railroad station, carpet shop, broommaker’s shop, blacksmith
shop, butcher’s shop, creamery, feed mill, sawmill, shingle
mill, pale fence mill, cider mill, carriage shop, Grange Hall, a
town band and band house, and other small family businesses.
A stream coming from the mountain to a milldam fed water to a
turbine to turn the millstones in the feed mill. From this mill the
water flowed to another milldam, also another stream flowed in from
the north. This water flowed into a deep stone pit to a turbine
that powered a shingle mill, cider mill, picket fence mill, and an
up-and-down sawmill, all driven by ground level shafting.
Because of flooding to the milldam, a screen-cooled 15
horsepower IHC Famous gas engine replaced the water-power. Then the
up-and-down sawmill was replaced with a Delouch circular sawmill.
In the carriage and wheelwright shop, an IHC Famous three-horse
upright ran the lineshaft. This engine was used through 1945.
My dad bought all of this business with the exception of the
feed mill. I came into the world in 1924 while business was good.
It took three to four men to run the mills and to start the 15 HP
IHC on a cold day and put that long belt on.
In this period of time the Mogul tractor was getting antiquated
and it needed a replacement. Thus, the engineers designed the 10-20
Titan tractor and power unit in 1914- From 1916-1922, 78,363 Titan
10-20 tractors were manufactured.
The biggest changes from Mogul to the 10-20 Titan were the
40-gallon water-cooling tank which enabled thermo-action cooling;
two sets of #140 drive chains and sprockets instead of one set; and
the 20 HP two-cylinder engine. A cam on the outer end of the
camshaft operated a Madison #50 six-station oiler to force oil to
all the internal parts of the engine. They used the same roller
guide on the front spindle for plowing that was also used on the
The tractor has heavy counterweights on the crankshaft because
both pistons travel in and out together. This way it fires one time
every revolution. This gives much more even power at low rpm. It
can easily pull the three bottom plow. Also, it has an impulse high
tension magneto. It is easy to start.
When I was six years old, my dad took away the 15 HP IHC and
drove the 10-20 Titan up to the sawmill. It did a great job
compared to the 15 HP IHC. I would sit on the fender and put my
foot on the governor arm and slow it down while he rolled logs to
the mill or, at times when the saw would not reach through the
first cuts, then he would hand saw and drive wedges to split the
first cuts. When he was ready to saw, I would speed the Titan up
before the saw entered the cut.
The Titan ran the mill until 1944, when Dad used a Chevrolet
truck engine for power. I don’t know where the tractor got to
while I was in the service. Over the years, I have restored gas
engines, my first a 1 HP IHC in 1939, tractors and T-Ford cars, but
always yearned to find a 10-20 Titan tractor.
To my surprise, in the November 1998 issue of GEM, a 10-20 Titan
was advertised by Brian Olenburg of Saginaw, Michigan. I took the
ad to the ‘Over the Hill Gang’ Thursday work sessions at
the Hay Creek Valley Historical Association and told them the story
of my dad’s 10-20 Titan and showed them the ad and picture. To
my surprise, avid IHC collector Paul Norton said, ‘Let’s go
get it.’ He has an F-250 Ford Diesel truck and trailer, a
capable unit to handle transporting the 10-20 Titan.
Everything was set to go, but the day before, Paul told me he
could not make the triphis back hurt too much but he insisted I
take his truck and trailer and go get the Titan. So with my wife
Shirley, we headed to our son’s family residence in Walled
Lake, Michigan. On the third day with my son Gary, and grandson
Ben, we headed to Saginaw to Brian’s place. Brian had calls
from all over the United States and lots of viewers. Brian said the
tractor had to be dismantled completely in order to restore it. So
I removed covers of the engine and found that the crank and rod
throws were not rusted, but every other part was rusted fast. After
our previous negotiations we came to terms and Brian pushed the
tractor onto the trailer using a John Deere converted to an
‘OilPull.’ Then we had a long coffee break and some of his
wife’s pastries, then a long tour of the barn, garage and sheds
full of small to giant OilPull tractors and gas engines. By this
time, it was time to head back to Walled Lake. The next day Shirley
and I headed back to Pennsylvania.
On the way home, we had plenty of viewers of the Titan at the
hotel and our rest stops. When we arrived home, the work started. I
was able to take the connecting rod caps and 2.5′ nuts off
inside the crank housing to the cylinder block and lift everything
out as a unit. Then I pressed the pistons out. Luckily, I was able
to use both pistons.
The tractor had been allowed to overheat, which cracked the
external off-block and warped the alignment of the valve guides.
There were not any internal cracks, which was good. Next, I bored
the cylinder and shrunk the sleeves in the bores and then rebored
the sleeves. Even the steering was rusted fast, so everything had
to be taken apart. I also had to put new bottoms in all of the
Locating the original front wheels was more challenging. We
finally located the proper front wheels in Missouri and got new
fenders from Bob Lefever and decals from Minnesota. After final
assembly it took hours to break it in by running it with the Hart
I talked to a collector in New York State and he found that
running the tractor on 50-50 kerosene and gasoline was more
effective, because the heating chambers above the engine and the
boiling water from the engine made the gasoline boil too quickly
before it ran into the carburetor. I used the small tank of
gasoline to warm the engine up and then switched it over to the
50-50 kerosene-gasoline mix. The bottom carburetor is used to feed
water from the cooling water to the combustion chambers in order to
cool the explosions.
An illness prevented me from getting it to the Rough and Tumble
Show. The tractor was at the Shirktown Threshers and the Hay Creek
Valley Fall Festival and later the Apple Festival at Hay Creek
Valley. It ran the sawmill using a 52′ saw blade and it ran
perfectly, sawing ash logs. I sat on a fender and worked the
governor like I did 70 years ago.
My dream was now a reality.
I have temporarily slowed down a bit, but with your prayers and
three more months of chemotherapy, I hope to finish restoring the
1.5 HP New Holland engine and a 1928 Buick. Then I may leave the
remaining ten gas engines and a 22 Caterpillar for the next
generation to restore.
The current generation deserves a lot of credit for our part we
preserved of our heritagenot only the mechanical aspects, but the
architectural aspect too.
In order to do the milling of the end block, facing the cylinder
head, boring valve guides and cutting valve seats, I used a
Bridgeport, to bore the cylinder block. I used an old 20′ x
5′ flat belt lathe. The lathe has machined surfaces and T-slots
on the carriage and it is quite easy to mount the cylinder and I
used a bar from chuck to tail stock with a boring head on the
My bridge crane was capable of lifting the flywheel crankshaft
and drive the clutch out in one piece to polish the journals.
Afterwards, I lifted the crank case housing off so I could use the
crane to lift the complete transmission on the floor and slide it
outside of the tractor.
The biggest obstacle 1 had was to free the clutch drive sleeve
on the crankshaft. I used WD-40 and an acetylene torch along with
lots of brute force from my neighbor, Allen.
The other big problem was the Madison Kipp oilerit was a glob of
rust. With the parts of three other oilers I was able to make a
Brian said the Titan came from an island off the Upper Peninsula
of Michigan and was used for farming and to run a sawmill.
The way everything was worn like 25-30 thousands in bore of
cylinder and each link of roller chain with
1/32‘ play, the tractor was really a
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