The Greyhound Gas Tractor Promised Prosperity

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Craig Detwiler’s 1929 Greyhound Thresherman’s Special. Craig opted for an Allis-Chalmers green-and-red color scheme.
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A promotional piece showing the Greyhound motto: Light, Strong, Durable.
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Craig’s all-wood bean thresher. Craig plans to exhibit the piece “as is” for a few years, then restore it.
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Compare the height of the fuel tank mounting bracket on this Allis-Chalmers tractor with the Greyhound’s bracket.
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The Cracker-Jack pea thresher, manufactured as part of the Chattanooga Implement & Mfg. Co. Royal line.
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The Greyhound’s fuel tank front mounting bracket has been reversed and increased in height by 4 inches to compensate for the increased size of the top radiator tank, keeping the hood level.
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Craig demonstrating his rare hand-crank Cracker-Jack pea thresher.

Light. Strong. Durable. Like the Greyhound, these words bring to mind sleek lines, power, stamina and durability. The same is true of the Greyhound gas tractor. A durable machine in its time, it was not lightweight or the speedster associated with the greyhound of the dog tracks. The Banting Mfg. Co. of Toledo, Ohio, used those words – Light, Strong, Durable – in advertising the Greyhound line, claiming that the line offered “The quick, short road to prosperity.” The Greyhound equipment line included separators, bean threshers, beet harvesters, steam traction engines, hay presses, cotton pickers and the Thresherman’s Special gas tractor.

According to collector Craig Detwiler, Goshen, Ind., Banting produced its own harvesting machines, such as the grain separator, but it also had a long history of using other manufacturers’ equipment, improving on it and selling it under the Greyhound name.

Craig has an extensive library of Banting literature. He’s also developed a portable Banting museum he takes to shows, and a short video of Banting’s Greyhound line, focusing on the Greyhound steam traction engine, Greyhound grain separators and the Greyhound Thresherman’s Special gas tractor.

In about 1925, Banting was looking for a gas tractor to add to its equipment line at the same time Allis-Chalmers was looking for a quality grain separator to add to its line. The two companies struck a deal: Allis would sell Greyhound separators while Banting would buy, modify and sell Allis-Chalmers 20-35 gas tractors to power Banting’s Greyhound separators.

The first gas tractors marketed by Banting from 1925-27 were essentially Allis-Chalmers tractors. These tractors had no raised lettering on the radiator top tank, but did have the Banting logo on the front of the radiator and on the hood side. These early tractors used standard Allis-Chalmers sheet metal fenders with armrests to go with the Banting-added canopy.

By 1928-29, however, Banting made major changes to the tractor. The piston bore was increased to 5 inches (from 4-3/4 inches) and the rpm was boosted to 1,000 (from 930), which increased horsepower to 25-52 (from 20-35).

To accommodate the increased power, Banting recast the tractor’s top radiator tank to add another 4 inches in height. To insure the tractor’s hood was level, they repositioned the front mounting bracket and raised the fuel tank 4 inches to compensate for the increased radiator size. The operator’s platform was completely redesigned, and extra-wide driving wheels, steel fenders and a canopy were added. A sight gauge was added to the fuel tank so the operator could keep an eye on the fuel level without having to physically measure the fuel remaining in the tank with a measuring rod.

Banting claimed the Allis-Chalmers 22-42 would easily operate a 32-inch separator, while the larger 25-52 tractor would easily operate a 36-inch thresher.

The Thresherman’s Special with 2-speed transmission would travel at 2.5 to 3.25 mph. It used 36-inch front wheels with a 6-inch face and rear wheels 54 inches in diameter with a 20-inch face (and several optional lug patterns). Its 90-1/2-inch wheelbase took a 12-foot turning radius. With the larger wheels, 10-gallon radiator, 32-gallon gas tank and canopy, the Thresherman’s Special’s weight jumped to 8,500 pounds (from 8,000). The model survived just through 1929-30.

Craig bought his Greyhound from his grandfather’s estate in 1995 (his grandfather bought the tractor at a 1985 estate sale). Although it took him several years, he has completely restored the tractor. He’s not sure of its original color, but since the tractor is about 75 percent Allis-Chalmers, he opted to paint his Greyhound Allis-Chalmers green with red wheels. Other collectors have painted their Greyhounds battleship grey with red wheels. Regardless of the color, when you come across one of these tractors at a show, stop and take a look. See if you can tell the difference between the original Allis-Chalmers and the Greyhound.

In 1930, the Banting Mfg. Co. was liquidated and Carlos Banting formed the Banting Machine Co. This company acted as a sales agent for Allis-Chalmers tractors and machinery in northwest Ohio until 1954.

The Banting companies trace their roots to Elmore, Ohio, where John Banting opened a store and began selling farm machinery. John sold the business in 1900 and moved to Toledo, where he organized Banting Machine Co. In 1915, he and his brother, Carlos, started another manufacturing enterprise, Banting Mfg. Co.

That company began manufacturing the Greyhound thresher line. Greyhound separators were of all-steel construction and came in five sizes: 22-36, 24-40, 28-48, 32-54 and 36-58. Additionally, Banting sold a full line of farm machinery. Those items they did not build themselves they bought from other manufacturers and sold under their brand name. They manufactured grain and bean threshers, hay presses, beet harvesters and steam traction engines.

Besides the 25-52 Thresherman’s Special Greyhound gas tractor, Craig also owns a rare 1921 22 hp Greyhound steam traction engine and an all-steel Greyhound separator. A recent addition to his collection is a wood 36-46 bean thresher and pea huller. He plans to exhibit that machine at a few shows before beginning restoration.

His collection includes one interesting machine that has no connection to Banting or the Greyhound line: a Crack-er-Jack pea thresher, part of the Chattanooga Implement & Machinery Co. Royal line. It is in pristine condition and is among his favorite pieces to display at shows. He says he’s never seen another like it. FC

For more information: Craig Detwiler, 14938 County Road 38, Goshen, IN 46528.

James N. Boblenz grew up on a farm near New Bloomington, Ohio. He now lives in Marion, Ohio, and is interested in antique farm equipment, particularly rare and lesser-known tractors and related items. E-mail him at Jboblenz@aol.com

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