Tracing The TOWNSEND


| September/October 1989



Roy and Wes

Roy C. Townsend Jr., left, and Wes Rankin with the author's Townsend 10-20.

N68 W 23784 Laurie Lane Sussex, Wisconsin 53089 Reprinted with his permission. It appeared in the 1985 EDGE&TA Wisconsin Branch No. 2 Show Book

On October the ninth, 1884, at Magnolia, Rock County, Wisconsin, a boy was born who was destined to become the designer and builder of a unique farm tractor the Townsend Oil Tractor. He was born with a bent for things mechanical and, as a teenager, he built a very neat one-inch scale working model of a Case steamer. He built almost every part, including the valves, oil pump, and governor.

In his middle twenties he was working as designer and engineer for Fairbanks Morse, and designed their big 30-60. When Fairbanks Morse went out of the tractor business, Roy, his brother George Elmer, and their father, Arba F. Townsend formed a company to manufacture the Townsend tractor, (1914).

At first Fairbanks Morse distributed it under the name 'Fair-Mor'. Others which were exported to Canada were called 'Bower City'. These were the 12-25 size.

After a couple of years, the 12-25 became the 15-30, and four more sizes were produced. A 10-20, 20-40, 25-50. and 30-60. The 20-40 was essentially a 15-30 with a larger engine, and the 25-50 and 30-60 were also the same except for engine size. Later in the 20's a few units of a more conventional looking '2 plow 20 HP' were built. As far as I know, none of these survive.

Until the economic recession after World War I, the company was unable to meet the demand for their tractors. But that prosperity turned to heavy losses and production ceased. Later in the early 1930's the LaCrosse Boiler Company built a few 15-30, 20-40, and 30-60's, but by that time the design was out of date and the Townsend tractor was history.