Setting the Standard Twin

Standard Twin garden tractor tackled gardens and small farms


| September 2012



Sickle Bar Mower

The standard's drive arrangement to the sickle bar mower allows operation at any angle, even vertical.

Last fall, while participating in parades at Historic Prairie Village near Madison, S.D., I was intrigued by a strange-looking garden tractor. Between parades, I wandered around the grounds looking at all the nicely finished and unusual pieces on display, finally finding Bob Adamek, Braham, Minn., who owns the garden tractor I’d seen, a 1952 Standard Twin Convertible.

In operation from the 1930s to the 1950s, Standard Engine Co., Minneapolis, has an interesting and rather convoluted history. The Standard line included the 3-1/2 hp Standard Twin and the Viking Twin, a high-quality 2-cylinder garden tractor. The Viking was built by a sister company, Allied Motors Corp., Minneapolis. It would appear that much of the technology proven in the Viking — 2 cylinders, 5 hp, two speeds and reverse — was also used in the Twin.

Initially a builder of small engines, Standard launched Allied Motors in 1929 to build garden tractors. Some believe the subsidiary was created to limit Standard’s liability should things go wrong, as well as establish a place to sell Standard engines. Viking left the Standard line-up in the 1930s. By then, Standard was comfortably established. Allied Motors ceased production in 1942 and all machine work and castings were then done in-house. Carburetors, magnetos and other parts were provided by external vendors. Allied rallied briefly after the war, resuming tractor production for a short time.

As time went on, more units were added to the line, including the Monarch, a 3-1/2 hp unit, and the Walsh (via Walsh Garden Tractor Co.), with a 2-1/2 hp engine, creating a line with a range spanning 2-1/2 to 5 hp — still not broad by today’s standards.

These garden tractors were all similar, 2-wheel units with the engine in front for balance. Most of the line’s implements were rear-mounted, but Standard also offered a front-mounted reel, sickle mower and blade. With simple adjustments, the Twin Convertible could be converted from a steerable sulky to a walk-behind unit. The Twin weighed more than 600 pounds. The next one down weighed 400 pounds, and the smallest unit, the Walsh, weighed 350. None of these engines are anything you’d pick up and toss into the back of a pickup!

Slow, but still better than a horse

Standard offered several attachments, including a cultivator, plow and multiple drag/disc setups and mower units. Plowing was touted as a viable option with the Standard Twin. The company claimed that you could work all day on one tank of gas, a pretty impressive feat as the Twin’s fuel tank does not seem that large. Still, you’d have to walk right smartly (top speed, 3 mph) to get 2 or 3 acres plowed in one day with a single 10-inch bottom. Other units were offered with either a 7- or 8-inch bottom. Plowing would be tedious, one would think. Still, as opposed to horses, you would not have to shovel feed in one end and fertilizer out the other in order to plow!

david27
1/31/2015 8:53:17 PM

I have two vickings cingle cylinder tractors and one standerd . would like know coler the vicking is thank you