'Old Reliable' Just That: 1913 Hart-Parr 30-60 Nears Century Mark

Nearly a century old, this Hart-Parr 30-60 is living up to the model's moniker, 'Old Reliable'
Don Voelker
May 2010
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The 1913 Hart-Parr 30-60 on auction day in Conrad, Mont., in 1986.
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Nearly a century old, a Hart-Parr 30-60 is living up to the nickname assigned early on to the model: “Old Reliable.”

Now owned by collector George Schaaf, Frankfort, Ill., this particular 30-60 is a remarkable piece of American agricultural history.

George is the tractor’s fourth owner. He bought the 1913 Hart-Parr from Gary Parker, Churubusco, Ind., who purchased the 30-60 from the Emil and Mort Christensen collection at a 1986 auction in Conrad, Mont. At that point, the tractor had been parked outside, without shelter, for more than 70 years. It had not been used for at least 50 years. Thanks to Montana’s dry climate, the 30-60 survived with little rust.

The Christensens were the tractor’s second owners; there is no record of the tractor’s original owner. When Gary bought it, the Hart-Parr was totally authentic. “This one was totally original. Nothing had been changed,” he says. “As far as being rare, there are just a few other tractors out there that are all original. At first I thought about changing the old wooden platform on the back of the tractor, but then I decided to leave it just the way it was.”

Built by the Hart-Parr Co., which produced its first tractor in 1902, the 30-60 is a classic example of that line’s progressive engineering. The engine has an overhead cam with hemispherical cylinder heads. “Everyone thinks that is something new,” Gary says, “but that’s not true.”

Hart-Parr 30-60 By the Numbers
Cylinders 2 Production Run 1911–1916
Bore/Stroke 10 by 15 inches     Total Built 1,700
Rated rpm 300 Factory Charles City, Iowa
Belt hp 60 Shipping Weight 19,750 pounds
Drawbar hp 30 Length 200 inches
Speed 2.3 mph Width 106 inches
Fuel Tank 50 gallons Height 148 inches
Transmission 1 forward
1 reverse
Coolant 96 quarts (original)
200 quarts (late)

Back in business

To get it running, the tractor’s wiring needed to be replaced. Grease and oil were added, the carburetor was cleaned and adjusted, and the floats were replaced. After that, a hand-start got the tractor running. “Years ago they nicknamed the 30-60 ‘Old Reliable,’” Gary says. “If you had fuel and ignition, it would always start.”

The 30-60 is designed to start on gas and run on kerosene. In that era, notes Larry Gay in A Guide to Hart-Parr, Oliver and White Farm Tractors 1901-1996, kerosene was less expensive than gasoline, so the 30-60 was developed with a carburetor that mixed kerosene and water (water was used to stop pre-ignition). The tractor had three tanks: one for gasoline, used to start the engine; one for kerosene, the primary fuel; and one for water for injection.

The water tank is positioned overhead, under the canopy. A large tank for the kerosene is on the left side of the platform; above that is a smaller tank for gasoline. The tractor has two carburetors: one for gas, and the other for kerosene and water. Operators were trained to drain the fuel after shutting off the engine.

Progressive design

The 30-60 used a magneto and force-feed lubrication, Gay adds in A Guide to Hart-Parr. Exhaust was routed into the top of the radiator box, creating an updraft that in turn resulted in more air being drawn into the radiator, increasing the cooling capacity. Oil was used as a coolant, providing more efficient cooling and preventing winter freeze-ups. Force-feed and splash-oiling systems kept internal components in a continual oil bath. The engine was equipped with a high-tension ignition that used two large dry cell batteries and two spark coils. Spark timing could be adjusted while the engine was operating.

To start the engine, the operator turns on the gas, puts fuel in each of the priming cups, then opens the compression relief valves and turns the engine over by hand. After the engine turns over a couple of times, it will fire. Then the operator closes the valves and the engine starts running. “It takes someone with good shoulders and arms to turn that over,” Gary says.

Although most Hart-Parr 30-60s were used to plow fields of prairie sod in the northern Great Plains and Canada, some were used solely for belt power on sawmills or separators. “The 30-60 was just too big to get them into a (Midwest) field,” Gary says. “A 40-acre field would be needed just to turn it around.” FC

 


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