212 West Lake Street Horicon, Wisconsin 53032
Having read E. & E. Magazine and The Iron Man Album for the past four years and the Gas Engine Magazine for the last year, I have read many fine articles written by men much older than myself and I might add I have learned a lot from these articles. Now I would like to try writing one myself.
I have been collecting gas engines for the past three years and gas engines and tractors the last year. The biggest reward I get from collecting this equipment is to get all the information I can concerning the history, age, what it was used for, where it was built, etc. I like to get my equipment from farmers and people who originally bought them, but sometimes this is not possible and then I have to resort to other means.
My question is-what happened to all the old records of shipments, etc. of all the old companies which are no longer in business? And why can't I get information from some of the companies which are still in business? Some of the older companies which I have contacted helped me very much and these I will talk about later. Perhaps after reading this article some of you can help by giving me more information that I do not have.
The first gas engine I bought came from a garage across the street from where I live in Horicon. It was a 1? hp Lauson No. W2136. The Lauson Company is now a division of Tecumseh Products Company, New Holstein, Wisconsin. By writing to their parts depot at Grafton, Wisconsin I was able to find out that my engine was built in 1923 and there were approximately 20,000 of these engines built. I have written to the Lauson Company many times and they have always given me the information that I desired. On my 8 hp Lauson I was very fortunate to get the original shipping invoice dated February 23, 1908 so no more information was needed.
This is a picture of a John Deere 1? H.P. Hit and Miss hot head engine. According to the John Deere Company, this engine was built as late as 1946. It is painted green with yellow letters. The engine was used on a water pump. Behind the John Deere is a 3 H.P. International Famous Vertical Engine. As a footnote, I should like to compliment the editor and staff on the fine work put forth in the publication 'The Gas Engine Magazine'.
I have several Fuller and Johnson engines. Mr. Verne Kindsch, Route 1, Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin, 53578, was very fortunate in acquiring all but a few of the records of the Fuller and Johnson Company from a man in Madison, Wisconsin who worked for the company.
Last Spring I visited Verne and it was really quite interesting to see these old books and find out just where my engines were shipped and what date. This is what I am talking about when I say 'What Happened to Them?'-surely the old records of many old companies must be in existence somewhere. I say let's find out where the records are and if the owners don't want to bother with them we should suggest that they be given to Early Days Gas Engine and Tractor Association, Inc.
The first tractor I bought was a 14-28 4 cylinder Avery No. 25713. The people I bought it from said they bought it as a demonstrator in 1925 but it had been at the dealers for about four years prior to this time. I was able to get an Operator's
Pictured here is Severt O. Dovre, Fessenden, North Dakota 58438, standing beside his Ingeco engine of unknown H.P. The name plate is the only thing attached to the engine to identify it. It was made by International Gas Engine Co., Cudahy, Wisconsin, and at one time was in a grain elevator and was moved out to the farm and set on a cement base, weighing 4400 lbs. It is a side shaft engine. Anyone know the H.P. of this engine?
Manual dated 1920 and a Parts Book dated 1919 and when I put all this together I came up with a building date of 1921. Now I wonder, what happened to the Avery Company's records? Who bought out the Avery Company? Perhaps these records are lying in some one's basement. Or have they been burned?
Being a designer with the John Deere Horicon Works in Horicon for the last eight years, I wanted to get an old spoked flywheel John Deere 'D'. This Fall I bought one from a man who lived near Richfield, Wisconsin. He told me that they bought it in the Fall of 1925 but I wanted more information than that so I asked Mr. Wayne McClellan, our Service Manager at John Deere Horicon Works, to write to the Waterloo Tractor Works at Waterloo, Iowa. Wayne wrote to Mr. J. W. Riley at Waterloo to get the information that I desired. My tractor is a 15-27 hp @ 800 rpm. Serial No. 35331.
We asked Mr. Riley the following questions and his reply is printed in quotes following each question:
1. In what year was it built? 'The particular tractor in question was built 20 August 1925 and was originally equipped with magneto no.94265.'
2. Where was it originally shipped to? 'According to our records, it was originally shipped to what was then recognized as our branch house John Deere Plow Company, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 'on 21 August 1925.'
3. How many of the spoked flywheel-type tractors was made? 'According to our best judgment, there were approximately 5849 Model D tractors built equipped with the open spoke-type flywheel. Undoubtly, there were fewer than this, as lost or damaged serial number plates would not be accounted for in this calculation.'
4. What was the first and last year of spoked flywheel tractors? 'The first year in which the spoke flywheel tractor was built would have been in 1923 with the last one having been built 24 December 1925.'
5. What was the first and last serial numbers of spoked flywheel tractors? 'The first Model D tractor built was identified by Serial No. 30400 and the last-Model D of the spoke flywheel variety bore Serial No. 36248.'
6. Are there any parts available? 'Your question no. 4 requesting whether or not parts for these early tractors are still available is a real good question. We have on hand very few parts. As you know, our responsibility for maintaining repair parts is only for a 20-year period unless the demand for a particular part is heavy enough to justify continued stocking. It is impossible to advise the exact parts we still have on hand; however, if you would furnish part numbers, it would be easy for us to determine wheter or not parts are available.'
7. Could we get an Operator's Manual or a copy of one? 'At the moment I have failed to uncover a copy of the instruction book covering this particular tractor. I have several feelers out and it is my sincere hope that perhaps one of these channels will uncover a book of this kind.'
8. Could we get any kind of a repair or service manual or a copy of one? 'In regard to a repair or service manual, you can well appreciate the inadequacy of the importance attached to providing service manuals during the years when these earlier tractors were built. However, I do have as my personal copy a green covered manual which I am including for both you and Mr. Wanie to read, and, if you care, reproduce. I would then appreciate your returning it to me. I am quite sure, and I have worked on lots of these old tractors, that this book pretty much covers the basic overall design of the tractor which you are concerned with.'
9. Is there any obsolete sales literature around or could we get a copy of something that might have been used at that time? 'As for the obsolete sales literature, here again we are beginning to realize how careless we have been in retaining for our files older literature covering the early design products produced by this factory. Fortunately, we do have a promotional piece that dates back to 1929 that does cover in a general way. My secretary has reproduced this book by Xerox and even though it is not the original, maybe it will provide you and your friend with some of the answers for satisfying your interest in the earlier tractor.' I recently read an article in the February 1967 issue of Implement and tractor Magazine by the late Elmer J. Baker, Jr. who wrote in answer to a question the Happy Farmer Tractor. A man like this would have been able to give a lot of information this sort of thing but now he is gone. I wonder how long it will be before all the old timers will be gone and all their knowledge with them? Perhaps we are too late now. I would appreciate hearing any comments any of you might have.
To get the fund drive rolling, Joe Habeger, mathematics professor at General Beadle State College, presented his 1915 Case 20-40 to the Prairie Historical Association. Here he gives the 'key' to the tractor-an 18' wrench-to fund drive co-chairman Jerry Prostrollo (in cab). Said Habeger, club president, 'Since this tractor was 'born & raised' in this area, I wanted to insure that no matter what happened to me, it would stay in the area.' It was bought new for $1,700 by a German immigrant at Flandreau, worked on Moody Lake, and Kingsbury county farms until 1930. Habeger bought it in 1953, uses it for threshing every year. Its 2-cylinder engine has 8?-inch bore, 9-inch stroke, cruises at 2? MPH at 375 RPM.