Centaur Tractor Gave One Heck of a Ride

John M. Mitchell shares photos of a Centaur tractor his father bought new in 1938.

| February 2006

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    Right: Jim Mitchell and his Centaur after he equipped it with a “running board” mounted on the outside of each rear fender where someone could ride to provide ballast on the uphill side. Note the fancy striping on the Centaur rear fender.
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    Left: “Four men and a tractor!” The photo shows 5-year-old John Mitchell sitting on the left rear fender with his two older brothers on the tractor seat, while his father, Jim, sits on the left front tire.
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    Right: Jim Mitchell’s final solution to the roll-over problem: the dual-wheeled Centaur tractor, hitched to a disc harrow in 1941 or ’42.

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John M. Mitchell, a retired college professor from Volant, Pa., sent these old photos of a Centaur tractor his father bought new in 1938, after trading in a Centaur Model 2-G. Mitchell writes that his first experience of driving by himself was on this Centaur KV. "The tractor had a LeRoi engine and there was an integral plow which was being used (top right)," he says. "I think there might have been cultivators, also. It was purchased for about $825. This tractor was sold in 1947 for perhaps $600."

Apparently the narrow wheel tread of the KV wasn't always an advantage. "My father found this tractor was very narrow and especially very susceptible to upsetting on hilly ground, which we had," Mitchell writes. "In fact, I believe it turned over several times, perhaps three, with my father jumping off safely each time. He finally rigged up dual wheels by adding large truck tires. It worked!" Before coming up with the dual wheels, Jim Mitchell mounted a wooden platform outside each rear wheel upon which someone could ride on the uphill side, hopefully adding enough weight to prevent the tractor from rolling over.