Parr for the Course
(Page 3 of 4)
Small business goes big
In 1906, Hart-Parr Co. had a banner year and introduced what's considered among the best big tractors ever, the Hart-Parr Model 30-60, also known as 'Old Reliable ' By 1915 , the firm had sold almost 6,000 of the machines.
More importantly, in 1906 Hart-Parr advertising manager W.H. Williams promoted the word 'tractor' in Hart-Parr's advertisements while touting Old Reliable, and the term instantly stuck. The 10-ton Old Reliable was powered by a 300-rpm, two-cylinder, kerosene burning horizontal engine with a low-tension magneto. It required five dry cell batteries to start the engine with gasoline, and the use of chain steering on the 30-60 continued in the Hart-Parr tradition.
As if these tractors weren't large enough, Hart-Parr began manufacturing even bigger ones including a Model 40-80 and a monstrous 50,000-pound Model 60-100 prairie breaker almost as large and heavy as a railway locomotive. The 60-100 was sold only in 1911 and 1912. With wheels 9 feet in diameter, the 60-100 was built, as Parr wrote, '... in obedience to a demand coming from the large western farms that were being developed, and from parties with extensive hauling contracts in the mining regions.'
At this time, Hart-Parr expanded its distribution infrastructure, opening branch houses in Wichita, Kan., Aberdeen, S.D., and later, Grand Forks, N.D., Portage La Prairie, Manitoba, Canada and Great Falls, Mont. The company also entered into contracts in Argentina, Austria, Russia, Cuba, Chile and Philippine Islands.
Global expansion gave both Hart and Parr a new perspective on what farmers needed around the world. As Parr wrote, '[The big tractor] proved to be too large a proposition to place in the hands of the ordinary unskilled man to operate and care for ... [and] the economy of operation did not prove to be so very much greater than in doing the same work with two smaller power units. The company therefore decided that it was better to ignore the demand for these larger machines unless they could be persuaded to do the work with two smaller machines.'
The Little Devil
As a result, in 1914 Hart-Parr began to manufacture smaller tractors for the first time, beginning with the 15-22-hp Little Red Devil (often just called the 'Little Devil').
It was a peculiar-looking tricycle rig, propelled by a large, single rear wheel with a direct-drive, reversible two-cycle, two-cylinder engine.
At its slowest idle, the tractor's timing lever could reverse causing the engine to misfire itself into running backwards - truly a critical design flaw.
At its peak production, Hart-Parr turned out five Little Devils a day. Selling for $850 each, Hart-Parr easily sold more than 1,000.