The Thrifty Farmer Tractor

Sears was among the earliest entrants into tractor conversion kits.

| October 2019

John Crofoot and his Thrifty Farmer.

John Crofoot of New Era, Michigan, was familiar with his Thrifty Farmer tractor long before he bought it in 2014. The tractor was once owned by Leonard Clous, longtime president and founding member of the Buckley Old Engine Club. A member of the northern Michigan club for many years, John drove the Thrifty Farmer in several parades at the club’s annual show in August.

John’s Thrifty Farmer tractor is based on a 1928 Model A Ford with a conversion kit sold in the 1930s by Sears, Roebuck & Co. The kits sold for about $100 and initially were available for Ford Model T or Model A vehicles only. Later, kits became available for the 1929-31 Chevrolets. All of those early cars had 4-cylinder engines. 

Thrifty Farmer kits were listed in Sears spring and fall catalogs from 1932 to 1941. By 1935, Sears had added kits for newer Ford V-8 powered cars along with Plymouth, Dodge and Chevrolet autos with 6-cylinder engines.

The kits were produced by Peru (Illinois) Wheel Co., about 60 miles southwest of Chicago. On John’s tractor, PERU and parts numbers are cast in the front wheels and the rear wheel “hub caps.”

John’s Thrifty Farmer is based on a 1928 Ford Model A.


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