Revisiting an Old Family Garden Tractor

Family takes care to preserve heirloom Plant Jr. garden tractor.

Allen Becker with his BP-1 tractor. The Model B-11 cultivator was issued with the tractor as standard equipment.

Sometime during the mid 1950s, Marvin Becker of rural Boerne, Texas, purchased a used Planet Jr. BP-1 two-wheel walk-behind garden tractor from Henry Agold, who lived near Waring, Texas. Marvin, who knew the value of a dollar, paid $25 or $30 for the machine. It came with a cultivator, two planters and a moldboard plow. These implements attached to a toolbar at the rear of the machine.

The Planet Jr. was used to plow and cultivate the Becker family’s garden plot. Marvin’s son Allen was the primary operator of the tractor. Allen built a sulky so he could ride behind the tractor; a hitch behind the sulky enabled him to pull a cart.

 The homemade concrete weight added for stability and traction.

The walk-behind was used until the mid 1980s, when the Becker family no longer planted and maintained a garden. At that time, the tractor was retired to a shed where it has resided for several decades. Allen regards the tractor as a family heirloom and it is on his “bucket list” to restore to running condition.

Unique features set BP-1 apart

The Planet Jr. BP-1 was built during the 1940s. No serial number is visible on the chassis or the engine, so exact dating is difficult. The tractor is belt-driven, with a belt-tightener clutch; the final drive is by roller chain. Each wheel is attached to a tube that rotates on the permanently-affixed axle, with a grease zerk for lubrication. Inboard of the left wheel is a ratchet that serves as a differential. The two steel wheels can be spaced 14 inches or 24 inches apart to accommodate different row widths.


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