REO Motors History
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The History of Montgomery Wards and Simplicity Garden Tractorsmontgomery wards m/w garden tractors wards garden tractors squire tractors chor-trac power-trac squire 7
This story actually starts in 1872 with a new small cast iron foundry called "The Western Malleable and Gray Iron Manufacturing Company" in Milwaukee, WI., making gray iron castings. Around 1900, Western was producing Gasoline engines under the name "Simplicity". In 1911 the plant was moved to Port Washington, WI., and continued to build engines.
They also started producing 2 models of farm tractors. Thing were good for the company until the end of WW1 when Henry Ford introduced his famous "Fordson" tractor. Ford, with massive production capabilities, was able to sell his new farm tractor at a price where few could compete. Many tractor firms were forced out of business, and in 1920 Turner Manufacturing was one of them.
Mr. William J. Niederkorn who worked for Turner Manufacturing, bought some of the assets and the Simplicity name. In 1922 he formed the Simplicity Manufacturing Company. The first product of the new company was a cylinder-boring machine for re-boring automobile engine blocks to be rebuilt. By 1936 the company was looking for something else to do as the "Factory Rebuilt Auto Engines" were now available.
Montgomery Ward contacted Simplicity In 1937, to see if they would and could produce garden tractors for Ward to sell through their Catalog and Retail stores. Simplicity developed two garden tractor models for Montgomery Ward to sell, and soon they were very successful. Simplicity soon began to manufacture and sell these tractors through Lawn and Garden Equipment dealers all over the US under the Simplicity name.
When WW-II started,, Simplicity had to stop making Lawn and Garden Products to help with the war effort. The War Board directed Simplicity to produce a variety of Industrial Machining equipment. When WWII ended, Simplicity stopped the production of Industrial Equipment and focused on the fast growing Lawn and Garden equipment business. They developed full line of Garden Tractors, Snow Blowers, Rota tillers, Riding Mowers and four-wheel Garden Tractors. They sold under both the Montgomery Ward brand name and the Simplicity name.
In 1950 Montgomery Wards offered 3 models of the 2 wheeled Tractor. The 1 1/2-2hp Hoe-Trac, the 2 1/2-3hp Chor-Trac and the big 6hp Power-Trac along with over 20 various attachments. By 1955 Wards offered 5 different 2 wheeled Tractors and 2-4 wheeled Riding Tractors, made from 2 wheeled tractors fitted with a steerable rigid mounts sulky. Wards offered 36 quick change attachments for their tractors.
The first fully engineered with the engine and steering axle in the front 4 wheel Garden Tractor was the 7 horsepower “Squire 7", introduced in 1959 and stayed the same for 1960-61. In 1962 a slightly more powerful engine was installed and it became the 7.25 horsepower “Squire 7 ¼”.
In 1963 big changes started to take place for Montgomery Wards in their Lawn and Garden tractor lineup. M/W still offered a Simplicity built Garden Tractor, the 7 ¼hp “Squire 725”, this would be the last year for the 700 Series based tractor. Wards also offered a Bolens built “Squire 6”, based on the Bolens 600 with a different Cast Iron Grill, hood and Steering Tower. Bolens also provided M/W with several of the attachments for the “Squire 6” that they built.
1964 still saw even more changes for Montgomery Wards. Gone from the lineup was the Bolens built tractor. Simplicity supplied their new LandLord based “Squire 9” Garden Tractor and also the “Squire 6” Lawn Tractor based on the Simplicity Broadmoor. M/W also offered a Garden Tractor called the “Squire 7 ¼HP”, built by Quick Manufacturing using a Springfield Garden Tractor, but having a Cast Iron grill and different hood. Quick Man. Also provide M/W with a full line of attachments they built for their tractor. The 1965 M/W lineup was basically the same as 1964.
1966 brought more changes to the M/W Garden Tractor lineup. Simplicity built the "Squire 10 Deluxe" Garden Tractor. Quick Manufacturing provided 2 Garden Tractors, the “Garden Mark 10” and the “Garden Mark 8”. Both tractors were based on the Springfield Tractors with grill and sheet metal changes only. Simplicity still offered the Power-Trac 2 wheel tractors thru M/W.
In 1967 Montgomery Wards offered 3 new Garden Tractors, the “Squire 12” with manual lift, Squire 12” with Hydraulic lift, “Squire 10” and the “Squire 8”. These tractors were produced by Gilson Tractor Co.. Gilson also provided Wards with all of their attachments to go along with their tractors. Warde still offered the Simplicity built Power-Trac 2 wheel tractor as well as all the attachments were still available. It's not known if these were leftovers from the Wards stock or if A/C continued to build and supply these.
1968 saw the same Lawn and Garden Tractor equipment available from Wards. M/W did start offering a 7 hp Riding Lawn Tractor which appears to be built by MTD although I haven't been able to back that up for sure.
This is a work in progress and I will be adding more information as I gather it up. Please be patient with me.
[Source: The Story of William J. Niederkorn, prepared for the Ozaukee County Historical Society, August 8, 1967, Marquette University Press, courtesy of Simplicity Manufacturing inc.]
[Source: Montgomery Wards Catalogs, Farm Catalogs]
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