Monday, October 13, 2014

Tractor Talk: The Farm’s Massey-Harris 33
Tractor Talk is a recurring column written by ScottAllen Barber for Wagner Tales.

I wish I could report our Massey-Harris 33 had all sorts of history with the Wagner family and their property, however, it does not!  As it is one of our few tractors that has running lights for evening operation and thus might be used for the Fall Harvest Festival this Saturday, October 18, this seemed a appropriate time to profile this implement and the company’s history.

The company had its beginning with Daniel Massey, who founded the Newcastle Foundry and Machine Manufactory Canada West in 1847 in New Castle, Ontario. The firm’s early days consisted of repairing items, making simple implements and custom casting. The company enjoyed rapid growth and produced some of the world’s first mechanical threshers. By 1870, the name was changed to the Massey Manufacturing Company. Two factors that contributed the firm’s rapid growth were an acute labor shortage and Canadian tariffs, which pretty much prevented U.S. firms from competing in Canada.

In 1857, Alanson Harris purchased a small foundry in Beamsville and began producing tools such as hand rakes and pitch forks under the name A. Harris, Son & Company, Ltd. The company was very successful and expanded rapidly, eventually making farm implements such as a “flop-over” hay rake, the Kirby Mower and Reaper, the Osborne Rake-Reel Reaper which rivaled the Ketchum Mower manufactured by Massey, and an open-end binder.

The Massey-Harris Company competition over reaping machines led to a merger of the Massey Company and the Harris Company in 1891, creating the Massey-Harris Company, Ltd. which represented the largest agricultural equipment maker in the British Empire. The firm produced reaper-threshers, combines, plows, discs, wagons, manure spreaders, etc. which were sold worldwide.
Never really known as a firm of invention, they acquired production rights from other companies or by purchasing the companies outright. Such acquisitions included the J.I. Case Plow Company in 1928; I previously covered the 1942 Case Tractor the Paul Wagner purchased in my column in the spring 2014 issue of Wagner Tales. A 1944 Case joined the outdoor static display by the 1926 Fordson next to the Farm’s Heritage Center earlier this summer.

Massey-Harris merged with Ferguson in 1953 to form the Massey-Harris-Ferguson Company. This resulted in the company selling two competing lines of tractors. The company was renamed the Massey-Ferguson Company in 1958 and remains an active player in agriculture to this day. The last “true” Massey-Harris tractor ended in 1958, with the end of the two-line policy.

Our Massey-Harris Model 33G1RF was actually a gift from The Grove, whose director Steve Swanson spotted this tractor “For Sale as is” while passing by a farm near Sturtevant, Wisconsin, at least 15 years ago. They came to terms for less than $1,000 and Steve oversaw its restoration with Chuck Gorski. It has a heavy-duty, industrial, 201 cubic-inch L-head, four-cylinder Model 201 Continental gasoline engine which can produce 35.5 HP at the drawbar and 39.5 HP at the belt-pulley. Ours is configured for row crops and sports a five-speed transmission, fenders, a 6-volt electrical system including a starter, generator and running lights.

The model 33 was in production between 1952 and 1955 with the standard version we have believed to be a 1955 which originally retailed for around $2,095. A total of 11,607 model 33s were produced.
If you join us for the Fall Harvest festival this Saturday, you will quite possibly see our Massey-Harris 33 pulling wagon or hay rides in the west pasture!

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