Prairie Tractors and Mud Lugs

| 3/31/2009 9:45:32 AM

One word describes those early Prairie tractors: BIG.

Avery 40-80 tractor
Avery 40-80 tractor.

OilPull engine    
Rumely OilPull tractor.
Huber tractor  
Huber Mfg. Co. tractor.
Aultman-Taylor tractor profile
Aultman & Taylor tractor.

They were huge machines designed and sold for one purpose, to break the centuries-old sod of the Midwest. These gas-powered behemoths were sold to replace steam traction engines.

Most of these tractors were built in the early 1900s, primarily in the ’teens. There were many manufacturers: Advance-Rumely, Aultman & Taylor, Avery, Case, Emerson Brantingham’s Big 4, Gaar-Scott, Hart-Parr, Huber, IHC Mogul and Titan, Kinnard-Haines Flour City, Minneapolis Threshing Co., Minneapolis Twin City, and the Wallis Bear, to name a few.

They were heavy. Most tipped the scales at six tons or more. They were tall. Rear wheels on most were at least 8 feet high. All came on steel wheels equipped with steel lugs of some kind. They were powerful. Most were 30-60s, 35-70s or 40-80s.

Although they used a lot of fuel, in the Plains states, kerosene, distillate and gasoline were more plentiful than the coal or wood required to fire steam traction engines. They had large cooling system reservoirs, but they needed less water than did a steam engine. Some, such as the Hart-Parr and Rumely, used motor oil for coolant.

These tractors could pull an 8-bottom platform plow in tough soils. But occasionally, even with the weight and power, they would need more traction. Aultman & Taylor helped solve that problem. The company provided what is called a “mud lug.” It went between the two existing chevron lugs. The mud lug was about 3 inches deep to provide extra traction. Dan Ehlerding, Jamestown, Ohio, has a complete set of mud lugs for his 30-60 Aultman & Taylor.