Four Drive Tractor Models & Specifications

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J.H. Fitch

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1916 Fitch
1916 Fitch Four Drive

1917 Fitch
1917 Fitch

Fitch Model 15-26 1917-18 Fitch Model 15-26

1919 Fitch Model 16-26

1919 Fitch Model 16-26

Fitch Model 20-35 1919-20 1919 Fitch Model 20-35

Model D4 20-35 1929 1920-29 Fitch Model D4 20-35

1922 Model 20-35 1922 Fitch Model 20-35

1929 Fitch Model D 20-35 1928 "The Fitch" Improved Model D 20-35

1929 Cat Model E 15-30 1929 "The Cat" Model E 15-30

1919 FDTC brochure
circa 1919 Four Drive booklet

1919 Fitch Four Drive
ad from New Zealand

Tractor & Gas Engine Review ad - May 1920 Tractor & Gas Engine
Review ads - 1920

1929 FDTC brochure
1929 Four Drive booklet

Fitch Four Drive Model D4 20-35, circa 1927     During its time, the Fitch Four Drive was the most powerful and versatile tractor on the market. The sales representatives of the Four Drive Tractor Company continuously put all models of the tractor in various demonstration tests consisting of endurance, pulling power and maneuverability. The Four Drive tractor was extremely effective for any heavy work in all types of terrain; therefor, it had many uses other than farming, such as road work.

   The Fitch Four Drive tractors proved to be extremley effective in the rice fields of California, Texas and Arizona. Even though rice is grown and harvested under water, the Fitch tractors easily handled the binders and other rice working machinery under these difficult conditions. The same results were obtained in the cotton fields in the Southwest United States. The tractors seemed to perform the best in conditions where the traction was the least, either on sand, gumbo (a fine silty soil that forms an unusually sticky mud when wet), muck or other wet and soggy ground. One of these places where they were extensively used was the Tulare Lake bottom, a sunken lake south of Fresno, CA.

    The first Four Drive Tractor was produced in 1916 and was known as "The Fitch". "The Fitch" was powered by a 4-cylinder Waukesha engine, had a wheelbase of 72 inches and an extreme width of 68 inches. The tractor had a turning radius of 8 feet, weighed 3,000 pounds with the tanks filled and sold for $1,000. This was the model that was featured in the March 16, 1916 edition of "Motor Age" magazine. The company produced various sized models ranging from the 12-25, 12-24, 12-20, 15-26, 16-26 and 15-28 and placed ads in many publications throughout the country.

Fitch Four Drive ad    In July 1918, a Fitch Four Drive 20-35 model undertook a 100-acre non-stop demonstration test starting the day prior to the National Tractor Demonstration at Tyler Field in Wichita, Kansas. It was the only tractor at the site conducting a demonstration, so hundreds of visitors were on hand watching the feat. The tractor pulled four fourteen-inch plows to a depth of seven inches deep in a gumbo with approximately sixteen inches of wild flax on the ground and five old straw stacks to turn under. Fuel was poured into the tank and engine and transmission oils were added while not stopping the engine. The grease was not be changed until after the test was complete. During the first night, rain poured down from about eleven o'clock until after daylight.  The tractor continued without intermission through the rain completing 15 of the 100 acres in 12 hours and then ran for about 60 more hours thereafter until the job was done. The whole 100 acres was plowed in 88 hours - an incredible feat for that time. The Fitch showed that drive on all four wheels would do the unbelievable. In addition to the show on the field, a display tent was setup with C.A. Watson, who was in charge of the Fitch activities, pointing out the details of a second Fitch Tractor's fine construction.

   In 1919, the company changed the design of the tractor so that it was heavier and had a more efficient kerosene burning motor - a Climax 4-cylinder.  The 20-35 and the 16-26 models allowed the company to secure a solid footing and lead to the firm selling its entire 1920 output before the year started with extensive advertizing in 1919 and 1920.

    Around 1920, a 20-35 model Fitch Four Drive - with a weight of 5,100 pounds - pulled 7 trailers loaded with hay and oats having a gross weight of 49,000 pounds at a US Government Tractor Test at Marfa, Texas.

   In 1928, the company introduced a modified four drive tractor for heavy utility work. Known as "The Cat" Model E 15-30, it featured a Waukesha 4-cylinder engine vice the Climax 4-cylinder that powered the standard Model D 20-35 "Fitch" Four Drive. "The Cat" was shorter, wider and stockier than the Model D and can be identified by the existence of rear wheel covers and that all four wheels are the same size. The word "Cat" was discontinued in September 1929 and tractor was changed to the Model F 15-30.

1929 FDTC brochure   A 40-page advertizing booklet from late 1928/early 1929 featured many photos of both "The Fitch" and "The Cat" as well as testimonials from satisfied customers. Both models could be ordered with many options depending on the type of work desired to be performed. For farm work, steel wheels with angle iron grousers (sandy), various size spade lugs (snow, mud and dirt) or 8" pyramid grousers (very muddy) were used depending on the conditions of the land to be worked. When packing or rolling streets or roads was the desired work, smooth, heavy roller wheels (additional weight of 6,500 pounds) or steel wheels with tampening grousers (additional 4,000 pounds) were installed. Rubber tires, an under-carriage grader, sunshade and an all-weather cab were other options available for both models.

   The booklet featured photos of tractors conducting work in the United States (Georgia, Michigan, Missouri, Kansas, Iowa and the Pacific Coast) and from Portuguese East Africa (now Mozambique) and New Zealand and a testimonial from the country of Montevideo.

   From July 1 to 17, 1929, a Four Drive Model E "The Cat" 15-25 (serial #3017 weighing 6,500 pounds with 4" spade lugs) was subjected to a standardized test conducted by the University of Nebraska Agricultural Engineering Department at Lincoln, Nebraska. The engineers in charge of the test concluded that the advertising literature submitted with the application for the test contained no claims or statements that were unreasonable or excessive.  The actual rating code on the tractor tested was a better than advertized rating of 18-28.

George W. Smith tractor dealer Rocky Mt. Photo Co

Western History/Genealogy Dept., Denver Public Library

Aerial view of lumber yards, frame and multi story brick buildings in the Union Station neighborhood of Denver, Colorado. The "Gaylord & Wright Horse & Mule Market" is on Wazee Street near an enclosed "Feed & Sale Corral." Shows horse drawn wagons on dirt streets and commercial buildings downtown.

Date 1882.

Tractor models of that time were designated by a two number rating code.  The first was the draw bar rating - the amount of horsepower while in intermediate speed when a load was attached at the draw bar.  The second was the horsepower when a load was run off of the belt pulley.  So a 20-35 model tractor had 20 horsepower from the draw bar and 35 from the belt. [return]