A Showcase of Classic Small Tractors

These machines showcase collectible tractors on a smaller scale.

| December 2015

  • The 1932 Caterpillar Ten. The Cat Ten was made from 1928 to 1933 and was the smallest Caterpillar made. It had a tread width of 37.5 inches. The one shown has rubber track pads installed.
    Photo by Ralph W. Sanders
  • The 1934 McCormick-Deering W-12. Using the same engine as the row-crop Farmall F-12, the W-12 could also be ordered for either gasoline fuel or kerosene. The engine had a bore of 3 inches and a stroke of 4 inches.
    Photo by Ralph W. Sanders
  • As a plowing tractor, the W-12 was rated for one 16-inch bottom or two 12-inch bottoms. It was noted for its maneuverability and was also available with rubber tires.
    Photo by Ralph W. Sanders
  • The 1936 Case RC. Although the science of ergonomics was in its infancy in 1936, the RC operating controls were all within easy reach of the driver. Rear-wheel tread was adjustable in width from 44 inches to 80 inches.
    Photo by Ralph W. Sanders
  • The RC sold for about $950 in 1936. Like all Case tractors of the time, a hand clutch was featured along with a thermosyphon engine cooling system.
    Photo by Ralph W. Sanders
  • Shown here on 48-inch steel wheels and optional fenders; rubber tires were optional, but the PTO was standard. The Case RC was aimed at the needs of the smaller farmer.
    Photo by Ralph W. Sanders
  • The 1938 Allis-Chalmers B. A torque-tube frame enhanced cultivator visibility, and the high-arched front axle allowed straddling the row being cultivated.
    Photo by Ralph W. Sanders
  • The wide cushion seat allowed the driver to slide left or right for a better view.
    Photo by Ralph W. Sanders
  • Fenders were standard, but starting was by hand crank.
    Photo by Ralph W. Sanders
  • The 1939 Cletrac General GG. They say success has many fathers, so the little GG must be considered a successful tractor as it carried several brand names besides Cletrac, including mail-order house Montgomery Ward. A crawler version, the HG, was also offered by Cletrac in 1939. The base prices fore the GG in 1939 was $595.
    Photo by Ralph W. Sanders
  • The 1948 Allis Chalmers G. This nifty little tractor is equipped with a 12-inch one-bottom plow, a hydraulic lift, a self-starter, and a headlight.
    Photo by Ralph W. Sanders
  • The 1948 Massey-Harris 11 Pony. The diminuitive Massey Pony was not only sold to truck gardeners and small farmers, but it also found use on large operations as a chore tractor. The one shown, despite the snow, is equipped with a sickle-bar mower.
    Photo by Ralph W. Sanders
  • The 1949 Farmall Cub. The quintessential small chore tractor, the Cub set a record, of sorts, for the longest production run of any tractor, continuing from 1947 to 1975 with only minor changes.
    Photo by Ralph W. Sanders
  • The 1953 Massey-Harris 21 Colt. In a break from tradition, the Massey-Harris Colt had an underneath, rather than vertical, exhaust.
    Photo by Ralph W. Sanders
  • With its utility front end and if equipped with the optional hydraulics and three-oint hitch, the 21 Colt provided good competition for the Ford 8N.
    Photo by Ralph W. Sanders
  • With its utility front end and if equipped with the optional hydraulics and three-oint hitch, the 21 Colt provided good competition for the Ford 8N.
    Photo by Ralph W. Sanders
  • The 1954 Massey-Harris 23 Mustang. The Mustang was much like the previous Colt but had the engine bore increased from 3 inches to 3.19 inches, raising the displacement from 124 ci to 140 ci.
    Photo by Ralph W. Sanders
  • The Mustang could also be ordered configured for distillate fuel and with optional narrow front ends.
    Photo by Ralph W. Sanders
  • The 1955 Oliver Super 66 (Half-Scale). Radiators for most scale model tractors are mock-ups only when air-cooled engines are used, like in this case. Full-scale generators must sometimes be used even though they appear out of proportion to the finished tractor.
    Photo by Robert N. Pripps
  • The Allis-Chalmers WD-45 (Half-Scale). The Richardson Brothers of Marengo, Illinois, also build half-scale implements, such as two-bottom plows, drags, disks, and cultivators for their half-scale tractors. Some of their creations have hydraulic implement lifts.
    Photo by Ralph W. Sanders
  • “The Tractor Factor” by Robert N. Pripps includes tractors from the United States and abroad. Some of the tractors featured in the book are one-of-a-kind and are being shown in print for the first time.
    Cover courtesy Voyageur Press

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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