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Uncovering the Pioneering Inventor Of the Tractor

By Tom Seest

Who Invented the Tractor?

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As farm tractors became more and more popular, many companies started manufacturing them. One of the most successful was sales-oriented Harry Merritt, who revived Ford tractor production by convincing Irish inventor Harry Ferguson to place his three-point hitch on an affordable Fordson model.

Who Invented the Tractor?

Who Invented the Tractor?

What Did John Froelich Do to Change Farming?

John Froelich (1849-1933) first introduced tractors into society through his invention of a gasoline engine capable of forwards-and-backward movement, one of the fundamental functions of modern tractors. Additionally, Froelich also invented a threshing machine designed to assist farmers in harvesting more from their fields.
Prior to Froelich’s invention, farmers relied heavily on steam-powered engines for plowing and threshing machines. Unfortunately, these were cumbersome to operate and prone to explosions; Froelich wanted a machine that was easier to maneuver, more powerful, and could produce more power than steam engines could provide. He worked closely with blacksmith Will Mann on designing a vertical one-cylinder engine mounted to the running gear of a steam traction engine, which he called an induction motor.
Froelich and eight investors formed the Waterloo Gasoline Traction Engine Company and produced four prototype tractors. Although two were sold, they were soon returned, and Froelich began working on other tractor-related projects.
His Fordson model was highly sought-after due to being practical, affordable and user-friendly compared to the larger machines being produced by other manufacturers in their industry. The popularity of his 9N contributed greatly to transforming farms.
Harry Merritt was an entrepreneurial sales leader known for reducing costs and streamlining features to make his tractor more attractive to buyers. Unfortunately, this led to him being fired from Hart-Parr but soon thereafter at Allis-Chalmers, where he managed to convince Fergusson to install their advanced 3-point hitch onto Ford’s 9N tractor – eventually Allis-Chalmers becoming the world’s biggest tractor producer by 1940.

What Did John Froelich Do to Change Farming?

What Did John Froelich Do to Change Farming?

The Hart-Parr Revolution: How Did It Change Tractors?

Hart-Parr manufactured the world’s first tractor in 1900 – a two-cylinder petrol-powered engine weighing 14,000 pounds with 30 horsepower that only a few farmers could afford. But as internal combustion engines revolutionized how we consume food and travel to recreation spots like forests or beaches, tractor manufacturers proliferated.
Allis-Chalmers was on the cusp of success during the late 1920s. Led by Harry Merritt’s skill as a master marketer, its sales-oriented leader used his abilities to cut prices, strip features, and slim down the appearance of its tractors to become more cost-effective within their respective industries and boost the bottom lines of companies like Allis-Chalmers. Furthermore, Harry Merritt introduced rubber tires onto tractors, increasing speed greatly while decreasing damage on fields.
By the end of World War I, tractors had become an essential element of agriculture. Used to automate many tasks related to tillage and haul heavy loads at low speeds without tiring out horses as much, these mechanized machines represented an efficient alternative to human labor. The name “tractor” came from their ability to be transported at lower speeds than horses – hence their nickname as well.
Hart-Parr’s first gas-powered tractor, known as Old Reliable, earned itself the moniker due to its reliability. This was thanks to Hart-Parr using quality components and adhering to a strict manufacturing process – the engine used water cooling, force feed lubrication, and open gears, running on gasoline or kerosene depending on customer preference – something few other tractors of its period were capable of accomplishing reliably or meeting manufacturer ratings. This innovation proved particularly pivotal since most other models experienced breakdown issues or failed to meet manufacturers’ rating expectations – making Hart-Parr standout among its peers in its field.

The Hart-Parr Revolution: How Did It Change Tractors?

The Hart-Parr Revolution: How Did It Change Tractors?

How Did Ford Revolutionize the Tractor Industry?

Ford, as one of the pioneers of tractor manufacturing, pioneered mass production with standard parts to reduce costs and increase sales. His Model T became an immediate success, setting modern automobile production techniques in motion, including large production plants and assembly lines.
Early tractor manufacturing experienced rapid expansion as farmers recognized the advantages of replacing manual labor with power machinery. Over two decades in the 20th century, hundreds of firms began producing tractors; however, several firms emerged as market leaders, such as Hart-Parr, International Harvester, Case, and Rumely, who produced and sold most wheel tractors sold from 1930 through 1955.
One of the greatest advances in tractor history was Henry George Ferguson’s creation of the Ferguson System. Over 30 years, this invention allowed the plow to be rigidly attached to a tractor for improved plowing; each pass through a field brought unrivaled results as the tractor self-leveled itself constantly.
Rubber tires were another significant advance, providing greater traction and reduced damage to fields. At around this same time, manufacturers increased horsepower availability on tractors; this trend continued into the 1950s, reaching its peak year with 564,000 produced in 1951.
By the 1960s, many manufacturers had begun to experiment with cabs to make tractors more user-friendly and comfortable for users. Over time, these cabs became equipped with heating and air conditioning; nowadays modern tractors may also include these amenities along with GPS navigation systems.

How Did Ford Revolutionize the Tractor Industry?

How Did Ford Revolutionize the Tractor Industry?

The Rise of International Harvester: Who Pioneered the Tractor?

At its introduction, tractors revolutionized agriculture. Many companies produced them throughout the 1900s, including McCormick-Deering Company, Plano Manufacturing Co. Champion Line, and Milwaukee Harvester Co. In 1902, these companies joined forces and formed the International Harvester Company. Producing agricultural machinery like threshing machines, hullers, hay balers, and harvesters. Construction equipment like wheeled loaders and tracked shovels were also available for use on building projects. International Harvester even ventured into home lawn and garden equipment such as Cub Cadet riding lawnmowers and walk-behind mowers, as well as snow blowers and compost shredders for home lawn care use.
One of the great names in tractors was Theophilus Brown, a mechanical engineering genius. Known by his competitors as “The Awful Brown,” he was nevertheless widely esteemed among his peers as a gentlemanly and well-respected engineer.
Brown was not only an accomplished engineer but also a skilled salesperson. Working alongside Allis-Chalmers team members to reduce prices and slim appearances of their tractors to increase sales in late 1920s, Brown became one of the bestselling tractors during that period. Later he attempted unsuccessfully to market Ford’s Little Devil before becoming head of sales at Allis-Chalmers.
After World War II, International Harvester experienced tremendous growth. Their tractors were popular with farmers for being reliable and durable while boasting stylish appearance that set them apart from competing brands. IH was so successful that it began labeling its models with letters for smaller models and adding “Super” for larger models.

The Rise of International Harvester: Who Pioneered the Tractor?

The Rise of International Harvester: Who Pioneered the Tractor?

John Deere: The Father of Tractors?

John Deere was born in Rutland, Vermont, and completed a four-year apprenticeship as a blacksmith before striking out on his own in 1837. He moved to Grand Detour in Illinois, where his blacksmith business flourished, and set up shop there. Over time, however, Deere realized that the old iron plows he brought from Vermont weren’t suitable for plowing over its dense clay soil surface.
He began experimenting with different designs, creating a plow made out of steel instead of cast iron for farmers who had previously spent most of their time cleaning off their plows. Soon, this material proved much stronger while dirt did not adhere as readily; farmers found this particularly advantageous. He soon sold over one thousand plows annually!
As his tractor business expanded, he relocated to Moline, Illinois. While initially using imported English steel for production purposes, eventually striking deals with manufacturers in Pittsburgh to supply him with cast steel at much reduced prices – eventually producing 10,000 of what became known as “The Plow that Broke the Plains” every year!
While many had high hopes that the Fordson would challenge major tractor makers, it was soon overshadowed by Elmer Wagner and his six brothers’ more practical and affordable 4-wheel drive machines produced by Elmer Wagner and his brothers. Their 4-wheel drive machines were lightweight, affordable, and user-friendly compared to most of the Goliaths that most of the industry was producing, thanks largely to Wagner’s sales-oriented approach, which involved working closely with engineering to streamline features and reduce weight on these small machines.

John Deere: The Father of Tractors?

John Deere: The Father of Tractors?

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