The Tractor Trials of 1919

By Staff

Lismore County Water ford, Eire

A reprint from Old Farm Tractors with permission of author Major
Revd. Philip A. Wright, M.B.E H on C.F. Queen Anne Cottage,
Greensted Nr.Ongar, Essex, CM5 9LA

The organizers of the trials at South Carlton, Lincoln, really
set out to help the farmer to make a choice, and they held a firm
conviction that there was a tractor to suit every farm. They
therefore tried to get every tractor of importance represented,
even if made abroad, providing it was actually on the British
market. Ploughing, cultivating, threshing, and hauling were
included as tests, but naturally the purely motorized plough did
not participate in belt work. In addition to the farmer judges (six
in all) a consulting engineer was engaged to make exhaustive
examination of the tractor’s structural features. No prizes or
medals were awarded as in the case of R.A.S.E. trials, as the
organizers felt there was no such thing as a ‘best’
tractor, nor would there be in the foreseeable future. Tractor
entrants were ordered to provide their own ploughs and cultivators,
and steam-driven tractors were not excluded.

I think it best to list the entries in alphabetical order with a
brief note of their qualities: Messrs. Alldays &. Onions, of
Birmingham, had three similar models of their 30 HP Mark II
tractor. She had four cylinders and the final drive was by chain.
This four-wheel tractor had a gross weight of three tons, and was
priced at ?630.

The Austin Company of Birmingham had by this time produced a
four-wheel model of 25 HP with four cylinders, spur-wheel drive,
weighing one ton eight cwt. laden. At ?300 this was an outstanding
value. An uncle of mine (the late Arthur Honey wood) purchased one
during the 1914-18 war, and my cousins were using it at Norton,
Suffolk, until a very short time ago. There were two of these
working at the trials, as well as a 30 HP model which demonstrated
threshing and hauling. In the main, the Austin bore a really
striking resemblance to many modern machines, and at these trials
it was described as easy to handle and safe in operation.

The 28 HP Avery had four cylinders, spur-geared transmission and
a belt pulley. She weighed three tons five cwt. and sold at ?500.
She was entered by the firm of R.A. Lister & Co., Dursley,

The Blackstone (built at Stamford, Lines) was rated at 25 HP and
two models were at work, one on wheels and the other on tracks.
These models had only three cylinders, weighed two and a quarter
tons and sold at ?500.

The 35 HP Clayton was built by the famous traction-engine firm
of Clayton & Shuttleworth, Lincoln, had four cylinders and was
governed. She sold for ?650.

The famous U.S.A. firm, J.I. Case of Wisconsin, had an 18 HP and
a 27 HP model, each with four cylinders and weighing one ton
thirteen cwt. Neither model was spring mounted and the prices were
?375 for the smaller tractor and ?475 for the larger model. The
Cleveland Company, H.G. Burford & Co. of Regent Street, S.W. 1,
had three models present. Each had four cylinders, weighed one ton
eight cwt. and sold for ?397. The horsepower rating was 21.2. This
tractor named Cletrac was one of the smallest and most compact
track-laying models of its generation. The engine was water cooled,
mounted on to a main frame. The sub-frame carried the track wheels
and was linked to the main frame by a laminated transverse spring.
A most peculiar feature of this little low-built machine was the
belt pulley, which extended in front of the radiator. Drive being
at right-angles to the tractor line made setting up for stationary
work a very tricky business.

A fine little Essex-built tractor was the Crawley Agrimotor,
built by the two Crawley brothers at Saffron Walden. It had already
earned a great reputation for efficiency. There were two
driving-wheels, one of which ran in the furrow; the driver sat
behind and steered, and other farm implements or haulage wagons
could easily be fitted. She was a four-cylinder 30 HP tractor and
had two forward speeds; transmission was by toothed gearing, and
she weighed thirty-eight cwt. and sold at ?500 complete with
plough. Mr. S.W. Crawley has recently written me from Harwich and
tells me he built an experimental model of this excellent tractor
at the age of fourteen, just after leaving school. A considerable
number of the machines were exported between 1913 and 1924 as far
afield as Australia. They were powered by a Buda or Puterber engine
and would run on petrol or paraffin. Mr. Craw-ley’s brother
farms at Hadstock, near Saffron Walden, and both these clever
engineers are most humble about their grand little Agrimotor, and
have pointed out that they did design an experimental prototype as
long ago as 1908 which was not proceeded with and which Messrs.
Hedley & Edwards of Cambridge, built for them. Mr. F.A.
Standen, of St. Ives, exhibited one of these at the Huntingdon Show
in 1913. The ploughmen of those days referred to the contols as the
‘reins’, as they were very much
‘horse’-power-minded at that period. This business of
having the power and the work in front of the driver was excellent,
and I personally have often wondered why such a system was not used
in the modern tractor. The ploughman who does not look back (St.
Luke 9, verse 62) is at least able to see where he is going without
constantly getting a pain in the neck!

Another interesting tractor in the Lincoln trials was the
Emerson-Brantingham, entered by Messrs. Melchior, Armstrong &
Dessau, of Great Marlborough Street, London. It had four cylinders,
the final drive : being by enclosed spur wheels. A belt pulley was
fitted, she weighed two tons and sold at ?446. George Garrard of
Gislingham, Suffolk, bought one in 1927 and used it with a
three-furrow plough.

The Eros tractor unit was an attachment whereby a Ford car model
T could be converted into a tractor for ?65. Amazing claims were
made for the strength and adaptability of this unit, as a
two-furrow plough, binder, cultivator, harrow, and roller. Fitted
with a pulley it could drive a circular saw. When not required for
tractor work, the Ford could be made roadworthy as a car in twenty
minutes. By fitting a Russell vaporizer it could even be run on
paraffin. Messrs. Morris Russell & Co., of Great Portland
Street, London, marketed this device.

The firm of Fiat Motors, Ltd., 5, Albemarle Street, London, had
two of their 25 HP Fiat tractors; one ploughed and cultivated
whilst the other did some hauling and threshing. A four-cylinder
tractor with final drive worm and wheel, it was a light tractor
(one ton six cwt.) with four wheels, but no selling price was
given. It was made in Turin, Italy.

The Fordson will be mentioned again when we review American
influence, and it will be seen from the accompanying photographs by
comparison that the general appearance of this world-famous tractor
today is very little altered from the first model. Henry Ford had,
in fact, been experimenting with a series of prototype tractors
culminating in Model F, which although ready in 1913, did not come
to the world’s notice until four years later. Rated at 22 HP,
the Fordson had four cylinders and worm and worm-wheel drive. It
was light in weight (one ton three and a half cwt.), almost too
light in the early model, for there was a strong tendency for the
front wheels to lift during heavy pulling. From the very first the
Fordson was an attractive proposition at the comparatively low
price of ?280. Of the three Fordsons present, one had a belt pulley
(?12.5s. extra) and did threshing. By this time Ford had a factory
in Cork Ireland, and these tractors were made there.

A neat-looking little tractor was the Garner made in Birmingham
and rated at 27 HP, weighing one ton fourteen cwt., with
transmission of worm and wheel. Chain drive was on the way out, as
can be noticed. The price was ?385, and a second model was there
for threshing.

The G. O. tractor was made in Birmingham and marketed by
Stock-wells of Norfolk Street, Strand, London. There were four
cylinders with final drive spur gears to live axle; one and a half
tons in weight and usual four-wheel layout. She was nicely enclosed
from weather and dust, and the selling price was ?480, which, we
are told, ‘included ?30 worth of spare parts’.

From the D. L. Motor Company of Motherwell came a Scottish-built
tractor, the Glasgow, rated at 27 HP. A four-cylinder engine
transmitted power to the rear wheels by bevel pinions and spur
wheel. Weighing one ton sixteen cwt., this tractor sold at

The American Tractor Company of Avenue de Bel Air, Paris, had a
very powerful machine, the Gray, of some 36 HP. There were four
cylinders and the final drive was by roller chain. A belt pulley
was fitted, but the forbidding weight was no less’ than, two
tons fifteen cwt., and, of course, the price was high-no less than
?600 being asked.

Only ?5 less was being asked for the American Illinois tractor,
which had four cylinders and spur-gearing transmission. Her laden
weight was two tons eight cwt. In the preceding chapter I mentioned
the Mogul 30 HP sent over by the International Harvester Company,
who then had a London office in Finsbury Pavement, E. C. 2. There
were two of these tractors entered, still only twin cylinders,
priced at ?580.

The same company by this time had produced what was to become a
very popular tractor in the Eastern Counties. Known as the
International Junior, and rated at 22 HP, it was a good proposition
for the smaller farmer. There were four cylinders and with a weight
of one ton sixteen cwt. she was easily handled. The price was ?300
and the second model present at the trials did some hauling and

The same intrepid firm also produced the 25 HP Titan and, in
fact, sent 3,500 Titan tractors into Britain from 1914 to 1920,
when the model was discontinued. It was a twin-cylinder tractor
with two forward speeds and tooth-geared transmission which ran in
an oil bath. The weight was two and three quarter tons and the
selling price ?410. There are a few of these popular tractors still
at work, and in 1956 a splendid model was given to the Museum of
English Rural Life at Reading. There were two others of the same
make at these 1919 trials. More than any tractor, the appearance of
the Titan was very like a small traction engine minus its chimney.
In place of a smoke-box, there was a 32-gallon rounded water tank.
The tractor did not have a radiator, water was instead circulated
through a pipe from the bottom of the water tank, around the
cylinders and back via an overhead return pipe. The engine had a
half-compression device for easy starting.

Entry number 36 was a Mann Steam Cart and most properly belongs
to my Traction Engines book. It was designed, however, as a steam
tractor for direct traction, rather like Garrett’s Suffolk
Punch. It was a smart little compound steam engine priced at ?825.
One of these steam tractors, owned by Mr. R.B. Haigh of Thaxted,
has been beautifully reconditioned by Mr. A.L. Frost of Takeley,
Essex, and his son, Peter. She regularly visits rallies in the
Eastern Counties and was built in 1921 at Hunslet, Leeds; the
photograph is by Barry Finch.

Martin’s Cultivator Company Ltd., of Stamford, Lincolnshire,
had two of their 28 HP tractors on view. These had four cylinders
and chain-driven transmission. They weighed about two tons and one
was of the crawler type. The plough was incorporated in the tractor
and fitted with a power lift operated by pedal control. The price,
complete with plough, was ?400. The other model was a four-wheeled
type and some seven cwt. heavier, the price being ?450.

A rather pleasing little motor plough emanated from Mr. J.W.
Maskell of Tillingham, nr. South-minster, Essex; it was later made
by Messrs. Petters of Yeovil. Of great simplicity, this was the
smallest type of two-furrow plough, and there were only two wheels,
both of which ran on the land; the off-side wheel was the
‘driver’ and the near-side wheel a mere balancer to keep
the plough upright. The operator walked behind and held the handles
as if driving horses. For its one ton six cwt., it was easily
manipulated and well balanced. The price complete with plough was,
however, ?400, and the name of this tractor was Maskell.

The American Moline was for some time as well known as any other
motor plough in the United Kingdom. She had four cylinders, spur
drive, and a belt pulley. Not unlike the Crawley, this American
machine incorporated a three-furrow plough, the two driving-wheels
being in front and two supporting small wheels taking the weight of
the plough. There was a seat fitted on this tractor and a
steering-wheel extended from the front driving-wheels. The tractor
sold at ?450 and there were three models present, all rated at 25
HP, and marketed by Motrac Engineering Company, of Hazlett House,

The Omnitractor was a 35 HP twin-cylinder model from the
Omnitractor Syndicate, Great St. Helens, London. Spur-wheel drive
and a belt pulley made her a very strong tractor, but she weighed
three and a half tons and sold at ?650. Mr. Ernest Talbot supplied
the picture, and tells me he took over the manufacture of this
tractor in 1916.

The American Overtime had by now been established in Britain and
was well advertised. There were only two cylinders, which developed
28 HP. The transmission was by exposed teeth gearing and the
tractor weighed two tons. Priced at ?368, she was marketed from the
Minories, London, in this country. The engine, radiator, and fuel
tank of the Overtime were all independently mounted upon a main
frame; these very obvious features always marked this machine and
caused it to stand apart from the crowd, so to speak.

As the photograph indicates, the Pick tractor from Stamford,
Lincolnshire, had a really modern appearance. There were four
cylinders and the final transmission drive to the rear wheels was
by roller chain and spur wheels. Weighing two tons complete with a
four-furrow self-lift plough, she sold for ?550. Her horsepower
rating was 30.

One machine which was entered, but did not participate in the
trials, was the Sander, from Malvern. Only two cylinders produced
25 HP. Spur-geared transmission was fitted, but there was no belt
pulley. It was one of the self-contained motor ploughs complete
with two sets of ploughs, one set for ploughing one way, and the
other for use when travelling in the opposite direction. Of the
four wheels, two were in the centre of the machine and one at each
extreme end supporting the ploughs

The Saunderson Universal is described in the preceding chapter.
By 1919, two cylinders were incorporated and the tractor was rated
at 25 HP. Spur gears were still fitted, but the price had risen to
?510. At the trials there were three models present and the judges
described this tractor as ‘a good general-purpose tractor-
substantially built, simple in construction, and easy to handle and
turn at the headlands’. Accessibility was also a good feature,
and both engine and radiator, as well as the gearbox, could be
dismantled without disturbing the rest of the assembly.

A firm called Summer scales Ltd., of Keighley, Yorkshire, had a
25 HP Summer scales four-cylinder steam tractor at work.
Chain-driven transmission and a belt pulley were featured. She
weighed four tons and cost ?600-the only three-wheeled steam
tractor on record.

The Ancone Motor Company were showing three Wallis Junior
tractors, each of 30 HP. They were a Massey-Harris project from
Racine, Wisconsin. Each had four cylinders and weighed one and a
half tons. The gearing was totally enclosed down to a live axle and
the price was ?420. The bearings all ran in oil and this little
three-wheeler was extremely popular.

W. Weeks & Son, of Maidstone, made the Simplex, a
four-cylinder tractor of 22 HP. Transmission by toothed gearing
gave three forward speeds, and the tractor had a car-like
appearance and weighed twenty-five cwt. A belt pulley was fitted
and this little tractor was supplied with rubber tyres for road
haulage purposes. With its top gear it was quite a fast machine.
Priced at ?400, the spare wheels fitted with rubbers cost ?70

The last entry in the trials, alphabetically, referred to the
Whiting-Bull tractor, a twin-cylinder American machine of 24 HP
weighing two and a half tons, bevel-geared drive, and with a belt
pulley, which cost ?395. It was designed as a one-man tractor to
work with a self-lift plough, and this was by no means common in
1919. Two of these tractors took part in the trials.

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