1913 Victor Kit Tractor

Victor Traction Gear Company made the transition from horses to horsepower easier with their kit tractor

| July 2000

In 1913, not every farmer had the means to trade up from horses to horsepower. The Victor Traction Gear Company moved quickly to fill that void, providing the equipment to convert a gas engine into a tractor.

"Basically, it's a kit tractor," says Gary Cooper, Reynolds, Ind., who, with Gene Dallinger, owns a 1913 Victor. "They sold the gears and wheels, and you put it together. You'd use whatever motor or engine you wanted. It was made for hay baling, grinding, other small jobs, and some people used it to fill silos. It was not made to go in the fields and plow, but some people used it for that."

It was a simple premise: The company shipped gears, steel wheels, steering wheel and seat to turn an engine into a kit tractor.

"You made your own wood frame, and put in whatever engine you wanted," Gary says. "One guy supposedly used a Willis car engine, and used it to power a threshing machine."

Almost anything, it seems, was possible. Gary has an original Victor manual, filled with lofty statements (but no pricing information).

"It says one guy in Minnesota, basically a teamster, used four horses to pull a wagon. When he got the Victor, he got rid of all four horses, and ended up using it to pull two wagons," he says. "It'd go 1.5 mph, and he put 2,000 miles on it."