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This kind of 'compare us' ad was rare in the times.
By 1918, though, the Pioneer attitude toward medals had changed. The firm's advertising touted how the Pioneer 30, the company's biggest model, won two first prizes and a second prize in tractor tests in Hungary, and a gold medal in Romania.
The response was very positive, the Winona Independent wrote on Dec. 17 of that year, noting foreign agents '... placed an order for 24 large engines to be shipped into Russia...'
A 1912 ad for the Pioneer 30 claimed that a silver dollar balanced on the crank case with the motor running at 550 rpm would not fall over. To prove it, the company hired a photographer to take a 60-second exposure and make a sworn statement to a Notary Public that nothing hidden held up the coin. The ad said, 'If it is hard to believe, it is only because you do not know the Pioneer.'
In 1910, the Pioneer 30 and another model, the Pioneer 15, hit the market, according to tractor directories, although the Winona Republican-Herald claimed a 40 and an 8 also were being built. But only a dozen or so models of any tractors were produced in 1910 in the United States. Of those, Pioneer tractors appear to have been the best.
The major reason for that claim was, unlike almost every other tractor, the Pioneer had enclosed transmission and engine components, which provided much-needed protection from destructive field dirt.
A Turtle Lake, N.D., banker named William Lierboe wrote to Pioneer in that introductory year with his personal impressions: 'During the Minnesota State Fair this fall, I had an opportunity to see a number of farm tractors work. I was quite favorably impressed with your engine 'The Pioneer Tractor', both as to its construction and to its work. It was the only tractor in which the motor and all the drive gears were entirely enclosed in dustproof cases: this is a very good feature for there is nothing so hard on the working parts of a traction engine as the dust and grit which gets into them...'
Surprisingly, it would take another 10 years before tractor companies routinely enclosed all working gears to protect them from the corrosive effects of field dust.
Pioneer also offered a warranty that put the company ahead of its time, although the generosity and vagueness of the guarantee may have helped cause the company's demise. The warranty states: 'Pioneer Tractor Co. warrants the within described engine to do good work, to be well made, of good materials, and durable if used with proper care. If upon trial, with proper care, the engine fails to work well, the purchaser shall immediately give written notice to Pioneer Tractor Co., Winona, and to the agent from whom it was purchased, stating wherein the engine fails, shall allow a reasonable time for a competent man to be sent to put it in order, and render friendly assistance to operate it. If the engine cannot then be made to work well, the purchaser shall immediately return it to said agent, and the price paid shall be refunded, which shall constitute a settlement in full of the transaction.'