What's in a Name?

Tractors named for g cities rarely prospered

| January 2006

Some tractors named after the cities where they were manufactured are well-known: Minneapolis, Minneapolis-Moline (Minneapolis and Moline, Ill.), Waterloo Boy (Waterloo, Iowa), Buffalo-Pitts (Buffalo, N.Y.) and Cleveland. However, other lesser-known tractors were the pride and joy of their hometowns, and several even carried those cities' names.

The Elgin

Elgin, Ill., was the home of the 10-20 Elgin tractor in 1916, but the company moved to Piqua, Ohio, where it lasted until 1920. The 10-20 was a re-rated 9-18 and later was called a 12-25. The 1918 asking price was $1,250. Fifty Elgins were manufactured in 1916 and 1917, and an estimated 90 in 1918.

The Fairmont

The 1914 introduction of the Fairmont tractor by Fairmont (Minn.) Gas Engine & Railway Car Co. was a surprise, as the company had long made only railway motor cars and engines. Later called the "Mighty Fairmont," Her Mightiness disappeared entirely in 1916. Early Fairmonts were 15-22s, later ones, 16-26s.

The Peoria

Three-wheeled tractors were popular prior to 1920, so the Peoria (Ill.) Tractor Co. introduced an 8-20 3-wheeler in 1914. Two years later it was re-rated a 10-20, with the same Beaver 4-cylinder engine of 3-3/4-by-5-inch bore and stroke, for $685.

The Peoria tractor is interesting in large part because C.F. Loomis helped design it. Loomis designed the Big Four and Pioneer tractors, but each of the three is different from the other, unusual for the time. The Peoria is also noteworthy because five different models (8-20, 10-20, 12-25, Model J 12-25 and Model L 12-25) of the little-known tractor were produced during the line's existence from 1913 to 1921.

The New Britain

Though the tractor-cultivator manufactured in New Britain, Conn., is not very well known, a restored No. 1 will bring $4,000 today for a machine that originally cost $400 (the No. 2 cost $450). Both were water-cooled, 2-cylinder machines with 2-3/4-by-4-inch bore and stroke.