Sunday, December 24, 2017

Movie Night XXVII: The Track-Pull Tractor Survived

Earlier this year when I reported on the Bean Spray Track-Pull Tractors, I'll admit I didn't think the tractors had changed the world. Even if one of the tractor startup guys had spoken at a Bean Spray employee all-hands about how "Our Tractor" would change the market, there wasn't much evidence that the tractor had much of an impact. Sure, Jim McCollough did another startup with a similar tractor in the 1930's. Sure, Alf Johnson was still testing tractor designs into the 1950's. But it's not like Bean Spray, and later Food Machinery Corporation ever built more tricycle tractors... right?

YouTube proved me wrong. It appears the Track-Pull design influenced Bean Spray products for years afterwards. Food Machinery Corporation, the name for the company after multipler mergers, was selling a similar three wheel design as late as 1945. This 1945 tractor isn't the same design: it uses rubber tires rather than a Caterpillar track, the engine is front and center instead of on one side, and the tractor is surprisingly tiny compared to the tractors that rolled down Julian Street in 1918. But it's still the same, with a similar fork supporting the two wheels, and similar huge wheels to control steering. I suspect it was a great tractor for a small orchard, or for cleaning up a large yard.

1945 Food Machinery Corporation tractor for sale. $6K OBO.

1945 Food Machinery Corporation tractor for sale. Part 2

For a crazy Sunnyvale tractor startup, it's pretty neat to hear their design was still in production 30 years later. A bunch of us out here in Silicon Valley can't claim such a victory.