I thought I'd share a very rare Canadian tractor of which I just became aware a couple of months ago with everyone. This very unique tractor was made at Frink of Canada, just a couple of blocks away form my house in Cambridge, Ontario (then Preston). They were designed by Don Gordon.
The prototype for this tractor was made in around 1961, and the production machines were made in 1963. There were originally two prototype machines, and one of them still survives. I visited the home of the person who owns the prototype, who, amazingly enough, used to work at Frink and was one of the people who helped build it. He is a wealth of information. The prototype is a gear drive and transmission (the transmission was designed and built in-house as well). After testing the prototype, it was apparent that the gear drive system was not going to work well enough. So, when the tractor went to production, they went to a hydraulic drive. So, in 1963, they made all of 18 machines, some single cylinder and some twin, but all of them hydraulic drive. As it turned out, the machines were too expensive: $1424 for the machine, and $250-$400 for each attachment (the price was too high, which is why they likely went under, and which is why they have such a low build number). Also, in 1963, hydraulic drive systems weren't exactly common. So, one prototype is still around, and only 18 production machines were built, and who knows how many of the 18 still survive today (I've found a couple of them).
The tractor is unique because it is built in three main parts: the sulky, the drive system, and the controls (seat, steering, etc.) that sit on top of the sulky. It was built using three main parts so that you could configure the tractor in six different ways. The idea was to engineer a very versatile tractor that could be customized to work best for a variety of purposes. If you look at the pictures below, it shows the various setups as well as some of the attachments. To have everything work well and to have it work no matter what way things are configured, must have taken a great deal of designing, particularly for the gear drive prototype. Just designing all of the linkages to work for all of the controls no matter how things are facing must have been tough. I think the tractor is quite a bit of engineering, considering that the idea was to be able to configure it any way you want in 10 minutes using basic tools. In many ways, the tractor was far ahead of its time. They were very, very well built and used technologies that weren't common at that time.
The brochure is a vintage piece of literature that I received from the owner of the prototype machine. Pictured in the brochure is the prototype machine. The other picture is of a production machine. I've been putting together a history of the company and its machines, and have done well so far, but I still have lots that I want to know. I'm also tracking down as many of the machines as I can. I'm hoping to have some much better pictures of these machines within the next few weeks. If you have any questions, just ask. I've learned a bunch, but what I don't know, I can find out for you.