2404 Quincy St., Rock ford, Ill.
The second tractor that my grandfather and Dad had was a 1921
Hart-Parr 15-30 kerosene burner bought through a farmer’s ad in
1922. Twin cylinder, four cycle engine, timed like the LaCrosse
engine. This tractor was built by the Hart-Parr Co. In Charles
City, Iowa, now with Oliver. The Oliver tractors are made in
Charles City to this day. The 15-30 was a conventional four wheel
standard tread machine. It had two speeds forward and one reverse.
It also had the Madison Kipp six feed lubricator and contracting
band hand operated clutch as did the LaCrosse. It had magneto type
ignition, an improvement over the unreliable battery type of the
previously described machine. The drive wheels were between four
and five feet high with round s pokes, a foot wide and were
equipped with extending angle iron lugs.
This tractor pulled three 14′ plows. It was much heavier and
more durable than the previous tractor, likewise steered and
handled hard, to this day Dad has a warm feeling for the old
Hart-Parr line which included the renowned model known as ‘The
Old Reliable 60’. He maintains that Hart-Parr was the line that
proved gas power practical, as do other old time tractor men.
For several years in the latter 30’s Dad had a Fordson and
two 14′ Oliver plows. This is the first tractor I remember, It,
too, was a kerosene burner. The Fordson’s ignition was
unreliable; the vibrator coils were the big bottleneck – short
lived. As to durability, Fordsons were a joke. Weak overall
construction and light weight. Also noisy and hot to operate. No
comparison between them and the them and the good de pendable Ford
tractors of today. One joke back then was ‘you didn’t have
a tractor, you had a Fordson’. The Fordson was the first
tractor Dad used on a spike harrow, the previous two were too heavy
and slow. The Fordson had 3 gears forward and on the road running
empty would go seven miles per hour or more in high.
From there on it was Allis-Chalmers WC’s for Dad, although
he had a 10-20 McCormick-Deering for a year. This was in 1942 after
using a a WC for several seasons, then moving onto a smaller place
after several years of renting a larger place before buying this
80. For power and durability the 10-20 was okay, though rather
awkward to handle after being used to the all purpose type.
In the late fall of ’42, Dad bought his second WC, a
’37, a year newer than the other one. He bought it at a farm
sale – on steel wheels then. Some years later he bought rubber for
it but never discarded the steel wheels. They came in handy the
last several winters for odds and ends work in ice, snow and mud.
This tractor is the one I learned on. It stayed in the family for
The last tractor Dad operated, just previous to retirement in
1959, was a 1950 Oliver 77, the best of them all to his mind. I
bought this one after returning from military service and used it
until I sold out. Such a nice outfit to steer and handle and good
to cultivate with. I was sorry to see it go.
I might mention in passing that the A-C and Oliver I farmed with
are, sentimentally speaking descendants of the two early machines
which Dad operated in his early experience, the L a C r o s s and
the Hart-Parr, which have served their day and played well their
part in the drama of agricultural progress. It has been my
observation in the course of casual conversation in so many places
I’ve been that the beginning of gas power have taken place no
earlier, some instances even later, than the earliest experiences
of this tractor veteran to whom I trust this article is a fitting
tribute. From the standpoint of one interested in agriculture and
the history of agricultural power and implements, such achievements
as this are worthy of recognition and tribute. It is, to my mind,
an outstanding record.