The Sandusky 10-20 Model J

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The Sandusky 10-20 Model J’s nameplate.
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Erie County’s 1917 Sandusky 10-20 Model J.
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Left side of the 10-20 Model J engine, showing magneto, water pump and radiator.
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Right side of the 10-20 Model J’s engine, showing carburetor and manifolds.

Like The Little Engine that Could, the Sandusky tractor

thought it would …

thought it could …

thought it should …

… have been one of the more popular and better-known tractors of its day.

It had all the attributes: power, design, speed and durability. But it wasn’t a famous brand because it

– didn’t have a big advertising budget …

– didn’t have a great sales program …

– didn’t have a wide distribution system …

– didn’t have good support after marketing …

– and was kind of pricey.

The Dauch Mfg. Co., of Sandusky, Ohio, started manufacturing and marketing farm tractors in 1912 with a huge 15-35 model. This ruggedly designed tractor, the Sandusky Model E, used a Dauch-built 4-cylinder 5-inch-by-6-1/2-inch engine with each cylinder cast separately. It weighed 7,600 pounds and sold for $2,500. This tractor remained in production until 1920.

In 1917, Dauch designed and produced a streamlined (for its day) 10-20 tractor. Known as the Sandusky Model J, the old tractor weighed about 4,000 pounds. It started at $1,095 in 1917, but by the end of production in 1920, the price had risen to $1,650.

To find one of these tractors today would be a restorer’s dream. But to find one and actually restore it would be the dream come true.

The Erie County (Ohio) Heritage Society has seen that dream come true. The heritage society actually acquired one of the earliest Sandusky 10-20 Model J tractors, restored it and exhibited it at the Crawford County Farm Show at Bucyrus, Ohio, during their annual show in June 2005.

Their 1917 Sandusky Model J has a Dauch-built 4-cylinder L-head engine cast in one block with 4-1/4-by-5-1/4-inch cylinders. Its cooling is provided by a radiator, centrifugal pump and fan. It has both pressure feed and splash lubrication. The ignition is Dixie and Sevison high-tension magneto with an impulse starter. The carburetor is a Kingston dual gasoline-kerosene model. It uses a sliding gear transmission with worm gear final drive that gives reverse and two forward speeds of 2 and 3 mph.

This beautifully restored Sandusky tractor is shown primarily in Ohio at a few shows that feature Ohio-made tractors. Keep your eyes open when you stroll the show grounds. You may run across “The Little Fellow with the Big Pull.”

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

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