Route 4, Ottawa, Illinois
It was in the year 1908. Hart Parr Company, builders of the first successful gasoline traction engine were standardizing on their sixty brake horsepower kerosene tractor. This was perhaps the real beginning of the decline of steam power for farm work, for plowing and field work more-so than threshing.
The Hart Parr 60 tractor was built for plowing and heavy drawbar work. From 1908 and the years that followed these Hart Parrs were shipped into the northwest to break the virgin prairies in ever increasing numbers. The coming of the Hart Parrs into the pioneer lands was almost as significant as the coming of the steel rails. In not a few cases was it that the 60's arrived ahead of the rails, being used for the grading of many a mile of new railroad right-of-way. One of the main lines into the new northwest used these 60's in fleets for this heavy work.
In my collection of history on the development of farm machines, almost invariably will the Hart Parr be mentioned. I have before me here a letter written some time ago ana a letter written to me some time ago for the historian, Mr. E. R. Potter of Saskatchewan, Canada, on the history of farm power on the plains of western Canada, in which he writes in part, 'The Coming of the Hart Parrs.' Mr. Roy Ross of Alberta, in his article in one of the issues of the IRON-MEN ALBUM tells us in one paragraph, 'The Hart Parrs were beginning to show up in increasing numbers'. While visiting the Northwest Development Company museum in Saskatoon on one occasion, a gray haired pioneer Canadian farmers pointed out one of the old 50's and said, 'There was the tractor.'
Whether on the 'Bonanza' wheat farms of the Red River Valley of the north, the plains of western Canada, or wherever the virgin soil was turned up by the plow, these Hart Parrs became known as 'The Old Reliable Sixty'.
I own one of the Old Reliable 60's at the present time. It shows little wear and is in good condition after being in use on a large farm for plowing, threshing and sawing for a period of forty-two years. To those of you who are not familiar with its construction, it has horizontal oil cooled 10x15 twin cylinders. Low tension ignition, hit and miss type governor. Idling and at light loads this engine fires only one cylinder, and as the load increases both cylinders fire if necessary to maintain governor speed of 350 RPM. Instead of opening a small priming cock to relieve compression for starting, on this tractor engine you open one and one-quarter inch pipe valves. There are four 3 inch exhaust pipes on this two cylinder engine. The massive flywheel is five feet in diameter, belt pulley 40'x12', rear wheels 34 inch face. The overall width of tractor is 10 feet 10 inches.
I also own an Advance Rumely 'Oil pull' tractor, a 30-60 Aultman-Taylor tractor and a 16-50 hp. Nichols & Shepard steam engine.