The Jaques-Frazer Model T, the General GG and More Obscure Tractors

Let's Talk Rusty Iron: Sam Moore finishes the tale of the Graham-Paige Frazer Farm Equipment company's ventures into tractors and answers a reader's questions about other rare tractors.

| June 2001

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    Model T tractor

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Continuing the Graham-Paige story

During late 1947, Graham-Paige's Frazer Farm Equipment subsidiary was building some 300 Rototillers daily, and the company was making money. However, after Mr. Frazer sold his auto interests to Henry Kaiser, Kaiser-Frazer dealers stopped handling the tillers and sales plummeted. By 1948, it was obvious something had to be done to save the company, which had by now moved from Willow Run, Mich., to York, Pa. To save the firm, G-P decided to build a small tractor and designed the Frazer Model T, so named because Joe Frazer said the new machine would be the "agricultural equivalent to the Model T Ford." The tractor chassis would be built by a Dennison, Texas concern, the Jaques Power Saw Company, hence the name Jaques-Frazer. The completed chassis were shipped to York, where Frazer Farm Equipment installed the engines, which were built by Bell Aircraft to G-P specifications, and the hoods, which were supposedly made from parts left over from the manufacture of B-24 bombers at Willow Run during the war.

Rated to pull one 14-inch plow, the Model T was powered by a one-cylinder, 2-cycle engine, like the Simar-Swiss designed power plant on the Rototiller. The engine displaced only 22.97 cubic inches. Some accounts credit it with five horsepower, and some say six; in either case, a 14-inch plow would be a load. The machine had individual, foot-operated turning brakes, a recoil-type pull-starter, a hand clutch, and a three-speed transmission with a high and low range.

Jaques-Frazer Model T

Fraser Farm Equip. Corp., York Pa.
Air Cleaner:
Donaldson, oil bath.
Brakes: Two; operated by foot pedal.
Carburetor: Tillotson, 1-in.
Clutch: Twin Disc, V 4-1/2.
Ignition: High tension magneto.
Magneto: Edison-Splitdorf or Fairbanks-Morse, gear driven-impulse starter.
Spark Plugs: One, Champion, 18 mm.
Starting: Cable and pulley (self rewind).
Data: H.P.-Neb. Test No. (not tested).Number of plows recommended: One,14-in.
Engine: Simar-Swiss; 3x3-1/4, 1,250-2,500 r.p.m., 1 cylinder; piston displacement22.97 cu. in.
Speeds: mph forward 0.532, 0.849, 1.385,1.835, 2.933, 4.781 and 0.391, 1.352 reverse at 2,000 engine rpm.

The little tractor weighed 1020 pounds, sold for $695, and was said to run as much as three hours on a gallon of gas, while kerosene could be used as fuel after the engine warmed up. Implements available were a 10-inch plow (apparently G-P didn't think a 14-inch plow was really practical), 5-ft mower, disc-harrow, bulldozer blade, and a rotary scraper, along with the same tiller that was used with the Rototiller.

The Model T went on the market in early 1948, but didn't sell well enough to be much help to the struggling company. Also about this time, the rights to the 'Rototiller' trademark expired, and other companies began to call their machines rototillers. Many of these competing machines were much cheaper and, although possibly not as well-built or powerful as the original Rototiller, the lower price attracted many home gardeners.

It seems that not many Jaques-Frazer Model T tractors were built in 1948, and only a few more Rototillers, while the company lost more than three million dollars. Half interest in the Rototiller line was sold to D.E. Winslow of Detroit in 1949, who went on to buy the rest of Frazer Farm Equipment Co. in 1950, and move the operation to Auburn, Indiana. The Jaques Power Saw Company continued to sell the tractor for a few years as the Jaques Mighty Mite after making a few changes. These modifications included dropping the 6-speed transmission in favor of a 3-speed, and substituting a 4-cycle Briggs & Stratton engine for the Simar-Swiss 2-cycle, along with slightly changing the sheet metal hood.


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