Tractor and Engine Nameplates

What's in a name(plate)? To a collector, everything!

| February 2000

Nameplates play an important role in collecting old engines and tractors. Many of the original plates have been removed over the years, and have been lost. (or stolen, as happens from time to time at auctions or shows. The people who steal nameplates shouldn't be welcome in our hobby.) 

People who have loose plates should make them available to collectors, so they can end up with the engine, tractor or equipment they originated with. I know a few people who collect nameplates, and they do make an interesting collection. Most of them will let a plate go if you have a need for it, or something to trade.

I know of one farmer who saved all of the plates from his old engines when the engines wore out. When the engines were scrapped, he nailed up the plates in his shed. I have also heard of a few scrap men who have saved plates off engines, tractors and equipment they had scrapped, and sometimes have a bucket or box of them to dig through. I also know of at least two examples of collectors finding a number of NOS plates from an old manufacturing company that were never stamped or used.

Another good place to find original plates is at the many engine and tractor swap meets held by clubs all over the country. Many different plates show up on vendor's loads of old iron. Several parts suppliers who carry new reproduction plates also attend those shows.

Nameplates are sometimes the only way to identify the model, manufacturer, and serial number of a piece of equipment. They also give other specifications, such as horsepower and rpm. If you are a John Deere collector, serial number is everything!

Early tractors and engines used cast iron nameplates. Most of the early cast iron plates were cast the same, and had a place on or near them where the serial number was stamped. Some companies cast their name right on the engine, like the Bauer sideshaft and the IHC Mogul Jr. (see accompanying photos), and did not have an add-on plate. Most of the early engine companies also stamped the serial number in the end of the crankshaft on the working side of the engine.