Friday Tractor: A Rare Find

Friday tractor known for speed, unique design.

| July 2014

  • This side view of the Friday shows a partial view of the I-beam used as the frame on most Fridays. Alan remains amazed by Friday’s mastery in forming the front end of the hood.
    Photo by Bill Vossler
  • A close examination shows five levers in this photo. From the lower left: The straight rod angling left is the high/low lever for the rear end. In the center, the lever with two holes angling right (and a similar flat bar lever without a hole on the far side) are hand brake levers. The lever with the black knob is the transmission gearshift lever. Immediately in front of the black-knob lever, and shorter (with a button on top) is the emergency brake lever.
    Photo by Bill Vossler
  • The Friday’s headlights were recessed, as shown here, which made for one less thing to catch on branches in an orchard.
    Photo by Bill Vossler
  • Like much of the rest of the tractor, the Friday O-48 was composed of original parts. Many in the powertrain are Dodge parts, but the engine (shown here) is a Chrysler Industrial IND-5 6-cylinder engine with a 3-1/4-by-4-3/8-inch bore and stroke.
    Photo by Bill Vossler
  • The unusual-looking grille on the Friday tractor would be difficult to reproduce, so luckily the one on Alan Burden’s 1945 Friday was in usable condition.
    Photo by Bill Vossler
  • The Friday O-48 has a Chrysler 6-cylinder flathead engine. Note the use of angle iron. The red canopy is an aftermarket add-on.
    Photo by Bill Vossler
  • The Friday tractor’s operator area gives an idea of how channel iron and angle iron were used in its construction. Designed with high road speeds in mind, the tractor holds its own on the highway. “It runs smoothly at 50 mph,” Alan admits, “but it starts shaking at 55.”
    Photo by Bill Vossler
  • A rusty Friday tractor with a backhoe.
    Photo by George Randall
  • This Friday tractor came with a blade.
    Photo by George Randall
  • This rare ad for the Friday tractor was found in a 1950 Van Buren County Fair promotional piece.
    Illustration courtesy George Randall
  • Pam and Alan Burden on their Toro tractor.
    Photo courtesy Alan Burden

Alan Burden doesn’t have to look far for plain old-fashioned fun. Driving his 1945 Friday O-48 tractor down U.S. Hwy. 34 from his home in New London, Iowa, to the Midwest Old Settlers & Threshers Reunion grounds in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, about 15 minutes away is about as good as it gets.

“It’s a four-lane highway, and in my rear mirror I’ll see cars a half-mile back pull over into the other lane to pass,” he says. “They’re pretty surprised when it takes them a half-mile or mile to actually do it,” he says. That’s because top road speed for his 10-forward-speed tractor can hit 55 miles per hour, Alan says, as measured by his GPS. Some say 60 mph.

Alan’s interest in old iron surfaced when he was in high school. His dad, Ken, was in the process of selling the family farm. “My dad started farming with a 1937 John Deere B. It was just sitting out in the pasture rusting, and I asked if he would keep it off the auction,” Alan recalls. “‘For you, yeah, you can have that thing,’ he said. So I restored it as an FFA project, and that got me started in old iron.”

Alan didn’t do much with it for the next 20 years. “By then it had frozen up again, and my dad had retired and he and my uncle decided to restore it again,” Alan says. “That started them into restoring tractors. Dad is 83 and still restoring.”



After the B was restored the second time, Alan decided to try tractor-pulling with it. “At the first tractor pull I ended up taking second place,” he says, “even though the B stalled within 2 feet, because there were only two tractors in my class.”

Then he wanted to hop the tractor up but his dad wanted to keep it original. So Alan tracked down a 1938 John Deere Model B to use as a puller. In the process, he ran into the Friday tractor.