Huber Tractors: A Proud Tradition

Huber tractors among early leaders in innovation, design

| April 2011

  • Huber's first gas tractor, 1898
    Huber built its first gas tractor in 1898. The tractor used a vertical 1-cylinder engine mounted on what was essentially a steam tractor engine chassis with special gearing. Having built 30 of these tractors, Huber is generally recognized as marketing the first mass produced tractor for commercial sale. The product, however, was less than successful and Huber dropped out of gas tractor production for more than a decade.
  • Huber's Farmer's Tractor, 1910-11
    By 1910-11, sufficient advances had been made in ignition distribution and fuel delivery for Huber to reenter the field. Called the Farmer’s Tractor, this model soon gave way to more conventional styled tractors.
  • Huber 20-40, 1914
    Completing this series, Huber manufactured this 20-40 in 1914. It met with little success and was discontinued a year later.
  • Redesigned Farmer's Tractor with engine moved to the front and operator's seat to the rear, 1912
    By 1912, Huber completely redesigned the Farmer’s Tractor, moving the engine up front and the operator’s position to the rear. This 15-30 model used a Stintz-Wallen engine and was built between 1911-17.
  • Huber's Light Four, 1917-27
    The next generation was a cross-motor design using a Waukesha engine. Rated as a 12-25, the Light Four – Huber’s first successful farm tractor – was built between 1917 and 1927. High front wheels made for easier steering and the radiator placement provided for better steering than that of earlier models.
  • For the prairie farmer, Huber built a 30-60 (later re-rated 35-70)
    Responding to the needs of the prairie farmer, Huber built this huge 30-60 (later re-rated a 35-70). The rear wheels are 8 feet tall and the radiator holds 90 gallons.
  • Super Four cross-motor tractor, 1921
    Huber released the Super Four cross-motor tractor, with a Midwest engine, in 1921.
  • Master Four 20-40, 1925-26
    The Master Four 20-40 was introduced in 1925, completing the series. Outfitted with a Hinkley engine, it was one of the most short-lived models in the Huber line, produced only during 1925-26.
  • The uniframe was followed by the 20-36 series
    The uniframe tractor was produced for just three years, followed by the 20-36 series with the engine and transmission comprising the frame. Although the basic configuration remained unchanged, the model went through several engine and horsepower changes during its lifetime.
  • The 10-20 Modern Farmer cultivating tractor
    To compete with other manufacturers’ cultivating tractors, Huber built a 10-20 machine dubbed the Modern Farmer. Although the first tractors were standard-tread models, they resembled the John Deere GP with an arched front axle and high ground clearance. This design was soon discontinued in favor of the tricycle tractor.
  • Uniframe tractor, 1926
    The uniframe tractor was unveiled in 1926. In appearance, all three sizes of the model looked the same.
  • The LC, which evolved from the Modern Farmer cultivating tractor, 1935
    The Modern Farmer cultivating tractor evolved into the LC in 1935. Cultivators for this tractor could be handlift, mechanical PTO or hydraulic lift.
  • Model L standard tread, used for light separators and fieldwork
    The standard tread, badged as the Model L, was the main tractor for Huber’s light separators and fieldwork. It was offered with steel wheels, rubber tires, starter and lights. For plowing it was equipped with two 90-pound wheel weights for the furrow wheel and three weights for the land wheel.
  • In 1935, Huber sold many tractors to Farm Bureau, which were sold as CO-OP tractors
    In 1935, Huber sold quite a number of S/SC and L/LC tractors to Farm Bureau. These were painted red and sold as CO-OP tractors.
  • Model B, the only styled Huber, 1936
    The first and only styled Huber – the Model B – was launched in 1936. Like the Model LC, it could accommodate several lift systems for its cultivators. A belly-mounted sickle bar mowing machine was also available.
  • Huber Maintainer, or the Model B grader, 1938
    Huber first offered a light duty road construction grader in 1938. Built on the Model B chassis, it was originally called the BG (or Model B grader). After World War II, it became known as the Huber Maintainer.
  • The wood revolving hay rake, Huber's first invention, 1860-1920
    Huber’s first invention, the wood revolving hay rake, was produced from the 1860s to the mid-1920s. More than 200,000 rakes were sold before the model was discontinued.

  • Huber's first gas tractor, 1898
  • Huber's Farmer's Tractor, 1910-11
  • Huber 20-40, 1914
  • Redesigned Farmer's Tractor with engine moved to the front and operator's seat to the rear, 1912
  • Huber's Light Four, 1917-27
  • For the prairie farmer, Huber built a 30-60 (later re-rated 35-70)
  • Super Four cross-motor tractor, 1921
  • Master Four 20-40, 1925-26
  • The uniframe was followed by the 20-36 series
  • The 10-20 Modern Farmer cultivating tractor
  • Uniframe tractor, 1926
  • The LC, which evolved from the Modern Farmer cultivating tractor, 1935
  • Model L standard tread, used for light separators and fieldwork
  • In 1935, Huber sold many tractors to Farm Bureau, which were sold as CO-OP tractors
  • Model B, the only styled Huber, 1936
  • Huber Maintainer, or the Model B grader, 1938
  • The wood revolving hay rake, Huber's first invention, 1860-1920

Although Huber Mfg. Co. made fewer tractors during all its years (a total of about 14,000 tractors) than either Farmall or John Deere in any one year, Huber tractors had a long and fruitful history. The company’s product line was rather impressive for a small company. Based in Marion, Ohio, Huber tractors were produced from 1898 until 1942, when the U.S. War Department decreed that Huber cease making farm equipment and concentrate instead on road construction equipment in support of the war effort. After the war, Huber did not return to the farm equipment business. 

In 1892, John Froelich produced the first recorded successful gas tractor. He used a Van Duzen vertical cylinder engine on a Robinson running gear and incorporated a traction drive of his own design. In 1894, Van Duzen Gas & Gasoline Engine Co., Cincinnati, built a tractor very similar to the Froelich tractor using its own 1-cylinder, vertical engine. This tractor met with some success.

Early experimental tractors

Manufacturer Edward Huber was so impressed with the Van Duzen engine that he bought the company. In 1898, Huber Mfg. Co. produced its first gas tractor. These tractors incorporated a traction engine frame, transmission and steering mechanism upon which the Van Duzen gas engine was mounted. They were specifically designed for belt power for Huber threshing machines. Huber built 30 units to sell, making Huber one of the earliest manufacturers to mass produce a gas farm tractor for commercial use. This first tractor was less than fully successful, in part because the engine had no true ignition or carburetor system. Huber discontinued production of gas tractors for the next 10 years.

Formative years, 1911-17

When Huber returned to gas tractors in about 1910, significant improvements had been made in both ignition and carburetion systems. The earliest effort was called the “Farmer’s Tractor” with the driver perched in front of the machine. The company’s sales record starts with number 100. The tractor had a 2-cylinder engine with a 5-3/4-by-6-inch bore and stroke. It was sold as a portable power unit. Serial no. 103 lists the same machine as a traction engine.



By serial no. 106, sales records show a 17-19 (17 hp at the drawbar and 19 at the belt) tractor, but do not distinguish whether this 17-19 is the same as the previous tractor. Records do note that the tractor used a Stintz engine. During this period, Huber conducted extensive testing. 1911 sales records for serial no. 148 show this tractor to be a 15-30 with a 7-by-8-inch bore and stroke engine. Later notations show the engine to be an opposed 2-cylinder engine manufactured by Stintz-Wallen. Rather than a radiator, this tractor used an evaporative cooling system.

Serial no. 178 (built in 1911) shows a 30-60 tractor using a 4-cylinder engine with a 6-3/4-by-8-inch bore and stroke. This tractor became the famous “Prairie” tractor. Huber built the 15-30 2-cylinder and 30-60 4-cylinder tractors until 1916. In 1916, the 30-60 was re-rated as a 35-70. In 1915, Huber brought out a 20-40 2-cylinder engine with a 8-1/4-by-9-inch bore and stroke. Records suggest that these tractors were made only in 1916-17. None are known to exist.



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