Rare Tractors: 1913 Averys

Looking for a really rare Avery? Pick one built in 1913.

| March 2007

The year 1913 was not a memorable one for new tractor models or for total U.S. tractor production. The preceding year of 1912 saw 22 new models and 11,400 of the newfangled beasts manufactured, while in 1914, 27 new models were unveiled and production totalled 10,400.

In 1913, on the other hand, just 19 new models were offered and only 7,400 tractors were produced. Fewer tractors manufactured means fewer of each tractor to survive, which is probably why a pair of 1913 Avery tractors have become rare, and are coveted by collectors today.

The 1913 Avery 40-80

It took Marv Stochl 20 years to get the 1913 Avery 40-80 he wanted. He first saw the Avery, complete with a T-head engine, in 1970 at the Midwest Old Threshers Reunion in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa. "Every year after that," says the 69-year-old Tama, Iowa, man, "about two weeks before the Mt. Pleasant show, I'd call to see if the owner wanted to sell it."

In 1990 he heard the magic words. "Don Rueben said I should come to Pontiac, Ill., for it. He was getting up in age and had a bad arm so he couldn't crank it anymore." The next morning, within half an hour of Marv's arrival in Pontiac, a deal was struck. "Afterward, I told him any time he wanted to see his old machine, all he had to do was come down to Mt. Pleasant." Marv hauled the 40-80 to the Mt. Pleasant show grounds and put it on display. "That's where it's been ever since," he says.

The 1913 Avery 40-80 with the Avery T-head engine might be the only one of its kind running. "I'm not saying it is for sure," Marv says, "but I haven't heard of any others." The placement of the engine valves makes this one special. "That's why I really wanted this tractor," Marv says, "because of the unusual engine. It has two valves in front and two valves behind the block, while other Avery engines have valves up front. When people first see the tractor with 'only' two valves, they wonder how it can run at all." The other valves are visible on close examination of the side of the block.

Marv enjoys another unusual aspect of the Avery: the sliding engine. To shift into forward or reverse, Avery engines slide a few inches forward or backward on a well-oiled or -greased rail to engage the gears. The radiator and gas tank also slide. With a full gas tank and heavy engine, that slide appears to be a monumental task. "You'd think it would be hard," Marv says, "but the long lever you move isn't that hard to pull back to slide into reverse, or forward into forward." The tractor cannot be moving, however, or a gear tooth could be knocked out, or the gear itself.