The first tractors in the United States were introduced in the middle of the 19th century and were powered by steam. Known as traction engines, the source of the word "tractor," these steam tractors were used for both plowing and threshing. Manufacturers of early steam tractors included Minneapolis Threshing Machine Co., J.I. Case, and Advance-Rumely.
In 1892, an Iowa inventor named John Froelich built the first gasoline-powered tractor, although acceptance of this new technology would not become widespread until the beginning of the 20th century. During that period, many of the most familiar names in the farm-equipment business got into the tractor trade, from International Harvester (1906) to J.I. Case (1912) to Allis-Chalmers (1914) to John Deere, which bought out Froelich in 1918. Even car-maker Henry Ford got into the act when, in 1918, the first Fordson tractors rolled off Ford’s Dearborn assembly line (Ford withdrew from the farm-equipment business in 1927).
Early International Harvester tractors included the Mogul, which ran on kerosene, gasoline, or naptha and had a single, easy-to-repair cylinder. In its first year of production, 1906, the tractor’s engine ranged from 10 to 20 horsepower, and friction drove its wheels. Within a year the friction drive was dumped for gears and the tractor’s power had been increased to 25hp.
In the mid-1910s, the 4-cyclinder Titan appeared, and by the end of the decade, International Harvester came out with the Junior, whose engine was enclosed under a bonnet in a style that defined tractor design for decades to come. Both competed with another International Harvester tractor, the blue-bodied, red-wheeled McCormick-Deering 15-30, which was used by wheat farmers throughout the 1920s and into the 1930s.
One of the most famous International Harvesters was the Farmall, introduced in 1920. This all-around tractor had a wide rear axle so that the wheels could ride between rows during cultivating. The first Farmall was called the Regular, followed by models F-20 and F-30, some of which were configured with a wide axle in the front and high clearances. Other pre-war Farmalls included the Model A Cultivision (designed to cultivate a single row), the 8hp Cub, and the Raymond Loewy-designed Farmall H, all of which were painted a deep, classic red.
The first Case tractors had enormous engines (30 to 60hp), although tractors with smaller engines quickly followed. These three-wheel, "cross-motor" tractors had 4-cylinder engines, but the breakthrough for the company came in 1929 with the release of the Case L and its smaller cousin, the C, whose in-line engine became an industry standard. In the 1930s, Case introduced the D series (painted in Flambeau red and black) and the R series, whose grilles had an Art Deco sunburst design. The unprofitable V made the 1940s a shaky decade for the company, but Case got back on track in the 1950s with the Case 300 and 400, which set a record in 1956 for fuel economy.
In contrast, the first Allis-Chalmers tractors started out small (6 to 12hp). Low, orchard versions of these tractors were produced, as was a model with spiked wheels. By 1922, i...
John Deere’s first years in the tractor business were spent manufacturing bright-green Waterloo Boy tractors, which was the name of the Froelich tractor company it had purchased in 1918. Deere’s first non-Froelich tractor was the model D, whose 2-cylinder horizontal engine remained in production for more than 30 years. The GP followed in 1929, although reviews were not good (it was underpowered, among other problems), the Henry Dreyfuss designed A appeared in 1934, and the first Deere diesel, the 2-cylinder model R, arrived in 1949. Among other landmarks, it was the first John Deere tractor to feature the company’s now famous "leaping deer" logo.
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Vintage tractor sale offers rare itemsFarmersWeekly, April 29th
Some rare and historic tractors will go under the hammer as part of a large vintage sale that experts believe will be a highlight of 2016. The Keeley Collection will be sold at auction in May, with organisers expecting plenty of interest. Some 50 rare...Read more
Peach State Antique Tractor And Engine Club Show At Prater's Mill This WeekendThe Chattanoogan, April 28th
Peach State Antique Tractor And Engine Club Show At Prater's Mill This Weekend. Thursday, April 28, 2016. The Peach State Antique Tractor and Engine Club Show will be held this weekend at Prater's Mill on Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m.-4 p.m...Read more
Antique tractor rebuilt by Canadian history loverFarms.com, April 28th
A history buff from Surrey, British Columbia needed help from other parts of Western Canada and the United States to bring an antique tractor back to life. It took George Hoffman 22 years, but he finally rebuilt a 24-foot, 1911 Rumely steam tractor...Read more
Vintage tractor run is sure to turn heads in the CotswoldsCotswold Journal, April 25th
A COLOURFUL spectacle of more than 100 of the finest and classic farm workhorses - along with their proud owners - will take to the North Cotswolds roads in aid of charity. A vintage tractor run, organised by Moreton Show and the North Cotswold Tractor ...Read more
Nostalgia runs deep at antique farm showVisalia Times-Delta, April 17th
Featuring a controlled differential steering system, the Cletrac crawler has a definite advantage over wheel tractors, said Borgaro, an Oregon vintage tractor, and antique machinery collector. “Both tracks pull all the time,” he said. “It has more...Read more
Antique Tractor, Train Show at Transportation MuseumSalisbury Post, April 10th
JON C. LAKEY / SALISBURY POST Cousins Sarah Waller and Fiona Raymer look up from the table of puzzles to watch Ron Green start his replicia of a 1893 Henry Ford engine. The Antique Tractor show was held on Saturday afternoon at the North Carolina ...Read more
Echols celebrates antique tractors, carsValdosta Daily Times, April 10th
STATENVILLE — Hundreds of visitors converged on farmland in Echols County this past weekend to see the tractors and other vehicles that used to carry the day for small farms. The Alapahoochee Antique Tractor Show and Farm Days concluded its two-day ...Read more
Ayrshire Vintage Tractor Club's annual rally takes place in Galston with ...Scottish Daily Record, April 7th
It was the annual Ayrshire Vintage Tractor Club's rally on Sunday and the air around the car park at Loudoun Castle estate was powerfully polluted at the start, but all in a good cause! Fords, Fiats, Leylands and of course Massey Fergusons began...Read more