Yes, we are here!

In times like these our hobbies become lifesavers. At GAS ENGINE MAGAZINE and FARM COLLECTOR, we have been tracking down the most interesting and rare vintage farm machines and collections for more than 80 years combined! That includes researching and sourcing the best books on collectibles available anywhere. Our online store is open and we are here to answer any questions you might have. Our customer service staff is available Monday through Friday from 8a.m.-5p.m. CDT. We can be reached at 1-866-624-9388 or by email. Stay safe!


Little Giant Tractor Stands Tall

The Little Giant Tractor was built by the Mayers brothers in 1914. It was a machine ahead of its time, but is nearly forgotton today.

| August 2007

  • A Little Giant tractor next to a steam engine in Mankato
    A Little Giant tractor next to a steam engine in Mankato, circa 1910-1920.
    Image courtesy Dennis Dotson
  • Mayer Bros. Co. invented and sold rotary ditch graders like the one shown here pulled by a Little Giant tractor
    Mayer Bros. Co. invented and sold rotary ditch graders like the one shown here pulled by a Little Giant tractor.
    Image courtesy Dennis Dotson
  • The Mayer brothers in about 1891
    The Mayer brothers (left to right) in about 1891: Conrad, Lorenz and Louis. Louis and Lorenz started a foundry in 1894, and Louis invented the trip hammer at a machine shop the three opened in 1895. The brothers' manufacturing enterprise was first called Mayer Bros. Co. and then Little Giant Co. Today it continues in business as Dotson Co.
    Image courtesy Dennis Dotson
  • A Little Giant pulling a rotary ditch grader over a Mankato, Minn., road
    A Little Giant tractor pulling a rotary ditch grader over a Mankato, Minn., road. Company literature recommended using an 8-foot blade grader for a 6- to 8-ton load on the road.
    Image courtesy Dennis Dotson
  • Turning prairie with a Little Giant 26-35 Model A
    Turning prairie with a Little Giant 26-35 Model A. The company said the tractor would handle a 3-bottom, 14-inch gang plow to a depth of 6 inches or more.
    Image courtesy Dennis Dotson
  • Little Giant Co. used a colorful logo to brand its tractor
    Little Giant Co. used a colorful logo to brand its tractor.
    Image courtesy Dennis Dotson
  • Little Giant ad
    This ad, which appeared in the April 1918 issue of Tractor and Gas Engine Review, notes the Little Giant could run on "kerosene, gasoline, distillate or any explosive fuel excepting crude oil, without noticeable difference in power."
    Image courtesy Dennis Dotson

  • A Little Giant tractor next to a steam engine in Mankato
  • Mayer Bros. Co. invented and sold rotary ditch graders like the one shown here pulled by a Little Giant tractor
  • The Mayer brothers in about 1891
  • A Little Giant pulling a rotary ditch grader over a Mankato, Minn., road
  • Turning prairie with a Little Giant 26-35 Model A
  • Little Giant Co. used a colorful logo to brand its tractor
  • Little Giant ad

"My grandfather killed the Little Giant tractor," says Dennis 'Denny' Dotson, Mankato, Minn., owner of one of four Little Giant tractors known to exist. Denny speaks colorfully, but the act was a business decision, pure and simple.

"In 1923, my great-uncle, Mankato Free Press owner Charles Butler, a stockholder in the Little Giant Co., contacted my grandfather, L.J. Fazendin, to manage (Little Giant)," Denny explains. "Soon after arriving, my grandfather saw the company was overextended and stopped making the tractor. He scrapped out $20,000 worth of transmission parts, a fairly large amount of money even by today's standards. They'd purchased inventory, hoping to become the next John Deere."

According to original ledgers, 500 Little Giant tractors had been built, the last in October 1920. Denny, owner of Dotson Co., Mankato (an automated jobbing foundry that traces its roots to Little Giant Co.), has heard stories about the sinking of a World War I ship that carried a large number of Little Giants to a watery grave. Scrap metal collections for two world wars made Little Giant tractors even more rare.

Innovative for its time

Several things make the Little Giant tractor unique, Denny says. The fan and steering wheel were cast aluminum, unusual in that era. Another out-of-the-ordinary feature is the spring-loaded hitch for smoother driving and operation. And a recommended fuel blend of kerosene and water delivered extra horsepower: The Little Giant was an unusually powerful tractor.



The Little Giant was the result of the brilliance of the Mayer brothers: Louis, Lorenz and Conrad. The three opened a machine shop in Mankato, in 1895. There, they produced a mechanical hammer, a revolutionary tool that in essence gave the blacksmith an extra hand, one stronger and more reliable than that of an apprentice. The hammer (also called a trip or power hammer) gained quick success, and the brothers formed the Mayer Bros. Co.

The innovative brothers invented and refined diverse products: boilers, gasoline and steam engines, hoists, steel beams, manifolds, road graders and ditchers, dredging equipment, traffic directors, woodworking equipment, band and circular saws, lathes, drill presses, retractable clothing reels and even a V-8 automobile. Except for the Little Giant trip hammer, which was perfected to peak efficiency, most products were produced for only a short time.



SUBSCRIBE TO FARM COLLECTOR TODAY!

Farm Collector April 16Farm Collector is a monthly magazine focusing on antique tractors and all kinds of antique farm equipment. If it's old and from the farm, we're interested in it!

Save Even More Money with our SQUARE-DEAL Plan!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our SQUARE-DEAL automatic renewal savings plan. You'll get 12 issues of Farm Collector for only $24.95 (USA only).

Or, Bill Me Later and send me one year of Farm Collector for just $29.95.




Facebook Pinterest YouTube

Classifieds


click me