Photography and commentary from John Fujimagari

Tractors You May Not Know

Hart Parr

Pioneer Acres in Irricana, Alberta is home to some great old tractors. Well known brands and also some lesser recognised names. These may not be known to you.

The Hart-Parr name was known to me through a friend who’s Dad once owned a Hart-Parr dealership. Hart-Parr was credited with coining the term “tractor”!  The Hart-Parr Co. was founded in 1897 at Madison, Wisconsin by Charles Hart and Charles Parr, who were both engineering students at the University of Wisconsin. The two men had built their first gas engine while still at university, and during the next four years sales of their oil-cooled engines increased to the point where they needed larger premises and additional capital. This led to the company relocating to Charles City, Iowa, where work soon began on a tractor design. The first tractor, the Hart-Parr No.1, was completed in 1902 – it had a two-cylinder oil-cooled engine and was rated at 17-30 hp. The No.2 tractor, which appeared later that year, was a 22-45 model that was completely different in appearance, mainly due to the addition of a large cooling tower at the front of the tractor. This design was also used in the No.3 18-30 model – an example of this is preserved in the Smithsonian Institution Museum, Washington DC and has recently been restored to full working order. In 1907, Hart-Parr introduced the famous 30-60 "Old Reliable", which remained in production until 1918. Heavier, more-powerful tractors were also introduced around this time, but the 30-60 remained the most popular model and is a highly sought-after tractor by preservationists today. A number of tricycle designs were subsequently marketed, before Hart-Parr changed direction and decided to move towards more lightweight tractor designs. Unfortunately their first attempt at building a light tractor, the "Little Devil", was a complete failure and the tractors had to be recalled for safety reasons. However, the right direction was taken in 1918 with the "New Hart Parr" 12-25 model, which formed the basis for all subsequent Hart-Parr tractors. The "New Hart Parr" was a two-cylinder tractor with a water-cooled engine and open gears used to drive the rear wheels. The model was soon uprated, and this design later became the "30", 16-30, and 18-36 models with modifications at each stage. A smaller model, the 10-20, was added to the range in 1921, and this was soon joined by the big 22-40 in 1923, which featured two 20 hp twin-cylinder engines side by side. The 1920s saw three models in the Hart-Parr range, the 12-24, 18-36 and 28-50, but by the end of the decade this design was starting to show its age. In 1929, the Hart-Parr company merged with three other firms to form the Oliver Farm Equipment Co., and soon afterwards the two-cylinder design was dropped in favour of four- and six-cylinder engines. However, the new Oliver tractors continued to feature the words "Hart-Parr" as part of their logo until the late 1930s.


The Love Tractors were built in Benton Harbour, Michigan from 1933 to 1954. This was a later model, most were designed for orchard work.

J. B. Love made a tractor out of a model ‘B’ Ford motor and truck transmission, with a truck rear-end, and called it a ‘TRUCTOR.’ You could travel at about 40 miles an hour and save lots of time. Mr. Love made these Tructors from 1933-1936. In 1937 Mr. Love still made the orchard style with the wide front-end, which he had made since 1933. But in 1939, he used the famous new style hood that continued on until the last one was made in 1954, but they still had some to sell three years later and they ended all production by 1960. The Love Manufacturing Plant in Benton Harbor, that had operated since 1933, six years later moved to Eau Claire, Michigan, in 1939. The 1939 model of the ‘LOVE’ tractor had a Chrysler Industrial Motor, with six cylinder, 218 C.I. (Model 30) and by then they were good work tractors, plowing and discing in the fields, but at the same time could do 60 miles per hour on the road. When Love made the new streamlined version, he put a cast, half-moon shape design in front of the radiator cap.

GMC Samson

1918 Samson Sieve-Grip tractor.

This unusual three-wheeled tractor is one of only 7 or 8 remaining in North America. It was manufactured by the Samson Tractor Company of Stockton, California. When Ford went into the tractor business GMC felt the need to make tractors of their own to remain competitive. Rather then start from scratch in the tractor business, GMC bought out Samson. This resulted in the manufacture of only about 140 model 30 X GMC Samson Sieve Grips.

The name Sieve-Grip comes from the tractor’s huge steel wheels which utilize metal cleats for traction. When cultivating, the open construction of these wheels help to break up the ground instead of packing it. It was intentionally built low to go under fruit trees in orchards. A seated driver cannot see the front wheel over the long hood. A large arrow is attached to the steering mechanism to indicate the direction of the front wheel.

The 5,800-pound beast is powered by a gargantuan 425-cubic-inch inline four cylinder gasoline engine equipped with a unique Remy electric governor (early form of cruise control). Also out of the ordinary is a water-filled air cleaner descriptively labelled Nodust Moisto Rizer. Top speed is 3.5 miles per hour and the braking system is rudimentary metal-to-metal. The clutch is virtually identical to steam-driven tractors of the era.


The Gibson Manufacturing Corporation, Longmont, Colorado, was founded in March, 1946 by Wilber Gibson. This company was a offshoot of the original company which had been formed by Wilbur’s father, Harry Gibson, at Seattle, Washington. The Seattle plant made specially built rail cars and had begun experimentation with tractors. The decision to produce tractors at Longmont was, at least, partially motivated by the desire to escape a setting where pressure to unionize was great. Longmont, located 40 miles northwest of Denver, was a small agricultural community with little or no industry at the time. The millions of dollars invested in the land, plants, and equipment coupled with the job opportunities for hundreds of local residents meant that the company was welcomed with open arms.

Three different model ‘ I ‘ units were offered: The ‘ I ‘ was a tricycle front-end model, the ‘IFS’ had a standard fixed front axle, and the ‘IFA’ had a standard adjustable front axle. The ‘ I ‘ was a 40-belt horsepower six-cylinder engine ZXD Hercules engine model. Rated as a two to three plow unit, it had a 94" wheelbase and sat on 10 x 38 rears and 5.50 x 16 fronts. Its weight was 4,000 pounds and was also tested at Nebraska in May 1949 under test #408.

In the best light…


One response

  1. Pingback: Tractors wisconsin | Seihantai

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