Fred McCance of Lyons, Ohio, wanted an old tractor to restore, so a neighbor took him to meet a retired farmer named Stanley Whitman.
Living at Ogden Center, Mich., near Blissfield, about 16 miles from Fred's home, Whitman owned several old tractors that fit the bill. One was a rare Shelby model D 12-25, made in 1920.
Fred had never heard of a Shelby at the time, but he really liked the tractor. Eventually, he was able to convince Whitman to part with it - but that was a few years down the road.
Little is known of the Shelby Tractor and Truck Co., makers of the Shelby tractor, but today, the one Fred finally bought from Whitman is apparently the lone restored Shelby in existence. Only one other has been located to date, a model C 9-18 owned by Robert, Helen and Matt Caton of Meyersdale, Pa., which Matt is in the process of restoring.
The Shelby company was organized in 1918 in Shelby, Ohio, according to the Shelby Museum of History, and shut down in 1921; its building was also sold that year. No information has been turned up to date by the local historians on how many tractors, or trucks, were manufactured by the firm, but Fred notes the company bought parts elsewhere and simply assembled them into tractors at the Shelby plant, a common practice of the day.
C.H. Wendel's Encyclopedia of American Farm Tractors reports on three Shelby models. The first produced was the 9-18 (9 drawbar and 18 brake horsepower), beginning in 1919. It came with a Waukesha 3-3/4 by 5-1/4 inch four-cylinder engine. In 1920, the bigger 15-30 tractor appeared, with an Erd 4-3/4 by 6 inch four-cylinder engine. In the last year of operation, 1921, the company offered the same 15-30 as well as a re-rated 9-18, listed then as a '10-20.' The Waukesha engines were made by the Waukesha Motor Co., Waukesha, Wis., and the Erd engines were made by Erd Motor Co., Saginaw, Mich.
Fred says his Shelby was one of two that made their way early on into the Blissfield area; in time, Whitman bought them both. The intact one, that now is Fred's, was once owned by a farmer south of Blissfield. He bought it out of Toledo but traded it in rather quickly for an Oliver Cletrac after neighbors made fun of him for using such a heavy machine on his crop ground. 'In 1920,' Fred says, 'it's important to remember, they were just coming from horses.'
Whitman apparently learned of the upcoming tractor trade and sealed a deal with the dealer to bring the Shelby on to his place after he delivered the Cletrac to the other man's farm.
The second Blissville Shelby was owned by a farmer who lived north of town. According to that man's grandson, whom Fred met at a local tractor show, the man was pulling tree stumps, using the drawbar, and he gunned the tractor too hard and pulled the whole back end out of it. Whitman bought the remains for parts.
Page: 1 | 2
| Next >>