Bear Tractor Held Tight to the Ground

The Bear tractor was only manufactured for a short time due to its high production cost.


| January 2015



Bear tractor pulling a leveling blade

A Bear tractor on road patrol duty pulling a leveling blade.

Image from a 1924 issue of "The American City"

During the late teens and the early 1920s, a lot of tractor builders came and went. Some lasted only a year or two. Many of these machines were of more or less conventional design; others were more unusual.

One that seems to have been quite well designed and modern for the time, but that lasted less than a decade, was a nifty crawler tractor called the Bear 25-35. Not a great deal is known about the Bear but I’ll tell you what I’ve found (with the help of Peter Longfoot from England) and perhaps someone out there in tractor land has additional information.

Manufactured by Mead-Morrison Co.

The Bear tractor seems to have been developed by Thomas Clarence Leake, New York City, who filed for a patent on the machine in October 1921. The patent, which was issued three years later, was assigned to Bear Tractor, Inc., also located in New York City.

Information on who was behind Bear Tractor Corp. is nonexistent and no personal information has turned up for Mr. Leake, although he had a number of patents for various improvements to the tractor, all of which were assigned to the Bear company. Interestingly, a patent was applied for in 1919 by a Thomas C. Leake, San Francisco, for a crawler track suspension arrangement that appears almost identical to one of the Bear patents. Although it’s speculation on my part, it seems likely that Thomas Leake was hired by Bear Tractor Corp. to design the company’s tractor based upon his earlier design.

With no manufacturing facilities of its own, Bear seems to have been strictly a sales organization. The Bear tractor was actually built by Mead-Morrison Co. on Prescott Street in East Boston, Massachusetts, a builder of machinery for digging, hauling, hoisting and handling, such as winches, cranes and derricks.

Unique track suspension

The new Bear tractor was announced to the trade in a four-page spread in the July 29, 1922, issue of Implement and Tractor Trade Journal. Most of the following information comes from that announcement.