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Photo A: This 1926-1927 Model T was converted to a tractor with the Pullford conversion kit.  ID.98.67.1

Photo B: Pullford advertised that Model Ts converted to tractors with their kit could perform any task a team of horses could do—and the Pullford didn’t need to eat during the winter.


April 2008

"T" is for Tractor: The Ford Model T on the Farm

It should come as no surprise to find out that the first really successful automobile for rural areas was designed by someone who grew up on a farm.  That car would, of course, be Henry Ford’s Model T.  The Model T’s high clearance worked well on rutted rural roads, and its versatile back seat could carry much more than just passengers.  Innovative farmers soon redefined this automobile and made it their own, finding new uses for the Model T around the farm. 

This bit of farmer ingenuity rapidly fostered a sizable aftermarket business in Model T conversions.  Kits were sold to transform Model Ts into sources of power to run machinery, to convert them to trucks for hauling, or to transform them into tractors.  The most successful of these conversion kits was the Pullford tractor conversion.



MORE:  "T" is for Tractor: The Ford Model T on the Farm


The Pullford Company, of Quincy, Illinois, introduced a $135 tractor conversion kit in 1916 and continued in business as late as 1940.  It consisted of a set of lugged steel wheels, and a rear framework and gears which allowed the Model T rear axle to be geared down to tractor speed.

These conversions were marketed to farmers who were farming with horses as a low-cost alternative to a tractor.  The conversions became particularly popular in the 1920s and 1930s as the agricultural depression set in.  Inexpensive Model Ts were easy to find, so the conversions became an easy and affordable way to wean farmers from horses.

Ironically, the Pullford Company got its Model T tractor conversion to market several years before Henry Ford’s own highly successful tractor, the Fordson. The Pullford Company also stayed in business longer than Fordson.  So it seems that one of Henry Ford’s toughest competitors in the tractor market was his own Model T.

One of the most common non-transportation uses for the Model T by farmers was to run a belt off of a rear wheel to provide power for farm equipment such as choppers, grinders, churns, washing machines, or saws. 

  -- Jim McCabe, Acting Curator of Agriculture


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