Farm trucks were a good fit for some tractor makers, including International Harvester, Fageol, Advance-Rumely and Moline Plow Co.
Some tractor manufacturers came up winners in trucks. From 1909 to 1912, IHC made Auto Wagons, high-wheelers using wagon wheels up to 44 inches in diameter. In 1912, the name was changed to Motor Truck. In 1914, "IHC" identification on the vehicles gave way to "International."
A new truck line was introduced in 1915, using artillery-type wheels with pressed-on solid rubber tires or optional pneumatic tires (except for the largest 3.5-ton model). The S truck series followed. More choices became available as farm truck use increased. A, C, D, K and KB series followed. In the 1950s IHC produced L and R model trucks. In the 1960s there was an explosion of truck models, from pickups through semi-tractor models. In 1986, International's Truck Group adopted the Navistar International Line, and dozens of models of trucks have been built since.
The first truck built by Fageol Motors Co., Oakland, Calif., after World War I was cause for celebration, at least in the minds of company bigwigs who planned a 300-auto parade through Oakland, led by their new truck. "From the outset," said J.H. Fort in the Oakland Outlook, "the company recognized that it was in a position of advantage over eastern producers because of its western location. Its birthright, one may say, was a knowledge of western conditions, the extremes and adverse trials that trucks in industrial service must undergo: long hauls, consistent over-load, steep grades and difficult ground. All these emphasized the demand for a truck that was not a mere automobile with an attached commercial body."
Little did those executives know how prophetic the celebration was. In addition to introducing the multiple speed transmission, air cleaner, reservoir oiling system and many other features which became standard on American trucks, Fageol trucks still roll throughout America today, just under a different name: Peterbilt. In 1932 Fageol succumbed to bankruptcy and was taken over by Waukesha Motor Co. and Central Bank of Oakland. Sterling Motors bought the assets in 1938, but in 1939, T.A. Peterman, Tacoma, Wash., bought the company and renamed the truck line Peterbilt.
The Moline Plow Co. produced the Model 10 Moline truck in 1920 for $1,695, hailed thus in Farm Implements and Tractors magazine: "Experimental trucks have completed exhaustive test runs, the majority of which have been throughout the southwest where these trucks have been driven under almost every conceivable road condition. Results of these tests show remarkable truck performance." The company ended truck production in 1923.
Samson trucks were first built in Flint, Mich., in 1920 after General Motors Corp. bought out Samson Tractor Works. The M-15 model sold for $655 and the M-25 for $1,095. Both trucks were built for farm use, fitted with extension rims with plain cleats in front and shallow cleats in the rear for ease of driving over plowed fields. Samson truck production was halted in 1923. The City of Janesville (Wis.) Street Department continued use of its fleet of Samsons until the late 1940s. (For more on Samson tractors and trucks, click here.)
From 1919 to 1928, Advance-Rumely Thresher Co. of LaPorte, Ind., manufactured Rumely trucks, 1.5-ton trucks powered by 4-cylinder Buda engines with Fuller transmissions and Sheldon worm drive rear axles. The Model A Rumely sold for $2,150 in 1925.
A 1919 article in Farm Implements and Tractors noted "The entire truck is especially designed for farm service. It has a unit power plant with a heavy-duty motor, 3-speed transmission and dry disc clutch. Suitable extensions will give it larger capacity for hauling oats, barley or other light greens, livestock, baled hay and other farm products. It will be distributed through the large Advance-Rumely dealer organization."
An article in the October 1924 issue of Oil-Pull Magazine quoted Fay C. Hollenbeck, Albion, N.Y., speaking on the hauling strength of Rumely trucks. "I've been running one of your trucks for the past three months and am well pleased with it. While it is only rated as a 1.5- to 2-ton truck, I find it hauls 3 or 4 tons with ease and could not see but where the motor still had reserve power.
"If you ever need a demonstration near here I would be glad to prove to anyone that this truck is the equal of the 3-ton trucks on the market, both in construction and power." FC