Rounding out this series we’ll take one last look at the vast machinery collections seen at the Pioneer Acres Museum in Irricana Alberta. In the past we looked at trucks, restored and not, along with construction and road machinery. This time around we’ll examine farm tractors and they have a lot of them.
While there is enough farm machinery to fill many reports we felt it best to show only those that are particularly interesting – the rare and unusual. I do apologize for not knowing much about the models seen. Tractors are of interest to me, but I am still not much of an expert. I do invite input from our viewers – please help identify them!
Starting at the start (makes sense) we see a number of massive stream tractors. Unfortunately how they were laid out in the shed made it almost impossible to photograph them well. This is too bad as there were some nice examples seen. In the same shed and looming just as large were a number of Rumely Oil Pull tractors. These leviathans date from the late teens and into the 1920s. With their characteristic cooling tower in front they really stand out in a crowd. Near the end of production these were total anachronisms, giant slow moving beasts when the industry was turning to smaller, faster and lighter weight tractors.
A Hart Parr is seen and it was made in Charles City Iowa (proudly proclaimed on the radiator). In the late 1920s this company merged with several others to become the Oliver Farm Machinery company. For a time the Hart Parr name was retained and some models carried over, but this only lasted until 1937. In 1960 White Motors purchased Oliver.
The Cockshutt shown in the pictures below is Canadian made. Based out of Branford Ontario this company was a long time producer of farm equipment of all kinds but seems to best known for their streamlined tractors, with their distinctive slatted grills (streamlining on a tractor, probably not really needed). Like Oliver mentioned earlier this company was also taken over by White Motors, but in 1962 instead. At that time the Cockshutt factory was shut down, however the name was retained for a while. Most of these later examples were simply re-badged Olivers. By the 1970s even this name was retired.
Next up a UK made Field Marshall. This company was an early adoptee of diesel engines and while there were two at the museum, I have never seen this tractor outside in the wild. This example used a novel starting method and a shotgun looking shell was inserted into the engine, hit with a hammer, and the resultant discharge was hopefully enough to get everything spinning so the engine would fire. I am told other models from this maker used the more traditional electric start.
One heavy duty looking model is the Rock Island seen in the images below. Made in (where else) Rock Island Illinois, these were manufactured into the 1930s until the company was taken over by the giant JI Case organization.
Next in line is a Rockol tractor. Quite uncommon I was told, this line was produced for a while in the late 1940s. Not much useful information can be found on them.
An old Massey Harris looks to be an early 4wd model. At that a time when most tractors were rear wheel drive this one must have looked downright odd with its wide and low stance and equal sized tires. I am sure it was quite advanced for its day but it still took a while for 4wd tractors to catch on.
A Clertrac General is seen and it’s another of the oddballs. Made by the Cleveland Tractor Company, this manufacturer was better know for their caterpillar tracked vehicles than farm tractors. Produced around the time of world war two, this organization was folded into the Oliver Farm Machinery company near the end of that conflict. Production of the General was later transferred to a company called Avery since Oliver was already producing their own vast and extensive farm equipment line and did not need another.
A little Wheel Horse was found tucked away in a corner and it’s an early example of the small lawn and garden tractors you see today. It’s sure cute! This line was produced up until recently.
Another tractor that’s of particular interest to me is the Silver King. Painted in a nice silver colour (of course) these were made by the Fate-Root-Heath company of Plymouth Ohio. Why do I find this appealing? You probably know I like trains and this company also produced the Plymouth line of small industrial and mine locomotives. These tractors were made from the 1934 until 1954, but locomotives were being produced by this firm into the 1990s.
Not much has been found about the Leader tractor seen in this report. Another rare model it was produced in the late 1940s according to the limited data I could find. More research on this is needed.
In addition to all the tractors discussed so far, there were a good number of what looked to be home built tractors. Small and somewhat awkward looking they appeared to be made using car or truck parts and what ever else the farmer had kicking around. One had a Chevy bow tie. If my guess is wrong and these were commercially made, by all means let please let me know.
Speaking of home brew, a “Joan Deere” was seen with a funky wooden cab. Farmers are a resourceful lot and this tractor sure shows that.
In the back lot where no one goes a number of unrestored tractors waiting patiently for their chance to be be brought back to life. Perhaps some will and maybe others will go on to donate parts to other projects.
A lot of these earlier tractors had steel tires, either wide smooth ones or really thin examples with steel paddles. I am not sure the advantages of one style over the other but I sure would like to know. Pneumatic tires came in favour in the 1930s and within ten years dominated the farm tractor market. Some tractors seen had a strange mix of both and I assume the rubber tires were retrofitted at some point.
To see construction machinery, click here.
If you wish more information on this place, by all means contact us!
Date: July 2012.
Location: Irricana Alberta.
Reference: To visit the Pioneer Acres Museum website, click here.