A Showcase of Classic Small Tractors

These machines showcase collectible tractors on a smaller scale.

| December 2015

The Tractor Factor (Voyageur Press, 2015) is a richly illustrated book that reveals what makes a tractor collectible, showcases the rarest models, gives a history of the marque, and details specific finds. Author Robert N. Pripps, a leading tractor historian, covers models from the United States, the UK, Germany, Holland, France, and other countries. Pripps' expertise, paired with the stunning photography of Ralph W. Sanders and Andrew Morland, makes The Tractor Factor a book no fan of these paradigm-changing machines will want to miss. The following excerpt is from Chapter 4 “The Little Guys.”

You can purchase this book from the Capper's Farmer store: Tractor Factor.

There was a New Yorker magazine cartoon some years ago showing a guy wearing a straw hat driving a riding lawn mower. Above his head was a “thought balloon” that pictured him driving a huge John Deere. But not all tractor owners dream big—small tractors have their charms. Everything about them costs less than for the big boys. Tire prices, for example, go up exponentially with size. Then there is storage space, hauling problems, and special-equipment requirements for lifting parts, such as an 800-pound rear wheel and tire. Standard eight-foot high garage doors are sometimes not adequate for bigger tractors with vertical exhaust stacks. And if you want to work your oversize tractor, you need big jobs for it to do, as well as big implements. Big is nice for shows, parades, and tractor rides, but there are downsides.

The following machines showcase collectible tractors on a smaller scale.

1932 Caterpillar Ten

The Cat Ten is the smallest Caterpillar ever built, and there were only about 5,000 of them made. The Ten weighed in at less than 5,000 pounds, which makes it easily hauled behind a 3/4-ton pickup truck. There were high-clearance and wide-track models, as well as versions with electrical systems and rear belt pulleys. Unique among Caterpillars, along with its sibling, the Cat Fifteen, is the use of an L-head engine; all others have overhead valves. Fuel for the Ten was gasoline.

The Cat Ten was about the same size as its predecessor, the Holt T-35 cum Caterpillar 2 Ton but was otherwise completely different. Its engine was smaller: 143 ci versus 251 for the 2 Ton. Also, the Ten used dry clutches while those of the 2 Ton were wet. Both the Ten and the 2 Ton were rated for two 12-inch plow bottoms.

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