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A Real Oldie


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#1 DougT ONLINE  

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Posted December 04, 2010 - 10:45 AM

Edwin Beeman is credited with the first successful commercial garden tractor in 1916. The tractor below is the oldest know example at the present time. We used to think it was the first model but I've since uncovered info of an earlier machine in a factory publication dated 3-16. This has to be late 16 or 17. By 1918 they were using the more common design. Some of the differences that are peculiar to this machine is the mag drive has gears down the side and the mag sits sideways instead of a shaft running out of the block and the mag sitting front to back. The other is the 6 spoke wheels. The later had 12 spokes.

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#2 mjodrey OFFLINE  

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Posted December 04, 2010 - 10:51 AM

That sure is a nice looking one.

#3 DougT ONLINE  

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Posted December 04, 2010 - 10:58 AM

Now.... If I could just pry it out of this kid's hands!!

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#4 AcreFarm OFFLINE  

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Posted December 04, 2010 - 10:59 AM

Very nice machine! How much does it weigh?

#5 Bolens 1000 OFFLINE  

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Posted December 04, 2010 - 11:43 AM

Great Pics!

#6 Bolens 1000 OFFLINE  

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Posted December 04, 2010 - 11:52 AM

Thats interesting info. I always thought Bolens was the first. You learn something new everyday.
Bolens made their first in 1919

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#7 caseguy OFFLINE  

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Posted December 04, 2010 - 12:28 PM

Those are some really great pics of an equally great machine! Thanks for posting that Doug!

#8 mjodrey OFFLINE  

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Posted December 04, 2010 - 12:47 PM

Thats interesting info. I always thought Bolens was the first. You learn something new everyday.
Bolens made their first in 1919


Yes,I was also under that impression .

#9 DougT ONLINE  

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Posted December 04, 2010 - 02:28 PM

I'm going to try to wing this off the top of my feeble mind so bear with me. One thing you have to remember is that truth in advertising wasn't a big priority back then and now that it doesn't matter, nobody questions it. As a case in point, before I get into this note Bolen's claim for the first compact riding tractor in 1947. Speedex was producing the model B rider in 36 and it was far more compact than the Ridemaster Bolens was producing in 47! Speedex claims to be Americas first riding tractor but I have proof that Utilitor was building a riding tractor in 22. Utilitor will fit in later in this ramble and is basically the same as a Beeman.

Somewhere, I have a copy of a Bolens model list with dates that is supposed to have come from a dealer book. It lists the first model as being built for Beeman but doesn't list a model. I found a picture I think is through the Millwaukee library local history that shows a picture of a Beeman Jr and claims it is being produced by Bolens. I've never tied the water-cooled tractors to Bolens. I can tie it back in history to Budweiser beer but can't tie it to Bolens. Mark Bookout has also been studying Beeman but more from the legal-corporate angle than tractor design. He claims that Beeman was selling tractors in 1915 without any means to produce them and was under investigation and lawsuits to refund money or deliver tractors and that Gilson/Bolens built the first ones. Gilson was already making hit and miss engines and had a foundry. They may have cast them but info I've found makes me question how many they actually produced. According to factory literature, (don't forget truth in advertising) Beeman started designing his tractor in 1914. Garry West, who is also a member here was doing patent searches and sent me a bunch from Beeman. Some of Beeman's patents are shared with a Lyons (Sam?). There was a Lyons-Atlas Machine Works of Indianapolis that was basically funded by Adolphus Busch of brewing fame. He was interested in Diesel engines and had bought the license to produce the Akroyd Diesel in the U.S. When the deal fell through Atlas-Lyons folded and became Midwest Engine Works. In 1918. Midwest Engine Works began producing the Utilitor. I've never actually tied the Lyons in the patent to the machine works but.... Is it all just a coincidence??? Some of the casting numbers are even the same.

Now, lets go back to Bolen's claim. Has anybody ever seen an actual Bolens model A power hoe tractor with something different than a Briggs P engine? Briggs didn't start making the model P until 1920 and shortly thereafter signed a contract with the Frank B Held Co of Columbus OH (Gromor) making them the sole user of the Briggs engine on a garden tractor for 2 years. They couldn't buy the quota of engines they agreed to and in 1921 Briggs canceled the contract and began selling to everybody. That's not to say that Bolens couldn't have bought them through Held originally. Another interesting thing is that of all the early model As I've seen or heard of, all have Pat Aug ?? 1921 cast in the axle. I'd like to document one that didn't so if you know of any, I'm all ears. Like I say, this Bolens connection is one that hasn't made itself apparent yet. I know there was one but I'm thinking it was through the Beeman Jr. It looks more like a Bolens design but I've never seen one of those without the P or PB engine either. Bolens and Beeman didn't show connected in the patents Garry found either It seems like sometimes the research brings up more questions than answers. I'm sure I probably missed a bunch here, I may edit later.
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#10 Bolens 1000 OFFLINE  

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Posted December 04, 2010 - 03:51 PM

Thanks for the post.

I guess back then documented information was quite sketchy...

#11 Bolens 1000 OFFLINE  

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Posted December 04, 2010 - 04:01 PM

This is the only documented stuff I have that goes back that far..

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#12 DougT ONLINE  

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Posted December 04, 2010 - 05:40 PM

I've spent a little time searching the web this afternoon. Here is a link that has Bolens history and mentions Beeman from 1919. It's more like Bolens took credit for Beeman's design but Beeman had already been producing tractors. Maybe the scenario was that Beeman didn't have anywhere in 1918 whenAtlas Lyons changed to Midwest Engine Co. I found some other stuff in Google books that I need to sort and post. Here's the link: Curators' Favorites: Museum Online Collections from the Wisconsin Historical Museum

Edited by DougT, December 04, 2010 - 05:46 PM.

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#13 DougT ONLINE  

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Posted December 04, 2010 - 05:46 PM

This is the only documented stuff I have that goes back that far..


That's similar to the list i have except I think I have more models. Did you notice Beeman at the bottom. It's just spelled wrong.

#14 Bolens 1000 OFFLINE  

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Posted December 04, 2010 - 06:05 PM

Yes I did notice the Beeman name...
Just like you said earlier.... The more you seem to research the history of these early tractors the more confusing and complicated it gets.

#15 Bolens 1000 OFFLINE  

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Posted December 04, 2010 - 06:05 PM

By the way, thank you for posting that link.




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