The Quaker Mules came in two sizes. The Frames, Drive Train, Hoods & Grills were all similar. The economy version usually came with 6 HP engines and no lift assembly, and sold for 25 dollars less than the larger horsepower one. The most popular one came with an 8 HP or larger engine and a rear lift assembly for a cultivator or plow. Many had used parts from the automotive industry.
All of the Quaker Mules featured a custom cast iron front grille with five grille vanes made from pot metal. This was a very heavy grille for additional weight to help when using rear mounted implements.
They all feature cast iron wheel covers that had "Quaker Mule" cast into the cover. This was one of the "Signature" features that made the tractors unique.
The tractors had a variety of engines. Most had Lawson or Briggs & Stratton. However, Clinton, Kohler, and Wisconsin were used on occasion. They used any engine they could find at the time. Many were obtained from Maytag washing machines that were converted to electric motors by the local homeowners in the 1940's.
As far as we can tell, all of the transmissions and rear ends were from old Chevrolet cars and pick-up trucks from the 1940's. All had 3-speeds and reverse. The wheels were also from Chevrolet cars and trucks. They were 5x16 and most had agriculture lug tires. The brakes were applied by using a pad with a thick cloth knit covering that rubs the rim to stop. Several owners have remembered problems stopping. One even drove it in a lake! Each tractor had right and left side individual brakes.
All of the tractors were offset for visibility when cultivating rows. Almost all of the tractors had one single front wheel, although I have seen a couple with two front wheels. This gave each Quaker Mule the appearance of a large pedal tractor.
Most of the tractors were painted using 1940's farm Implement Red with the fenders, hoods, wheel covers, and seat painted GMC truck dark green. The front grille pieces were painted either color, depending on how much paint was left. A few were painted Ford Blue and Red, but you might see any combination. The engines were not usually repainted, so they can be any color.
Sadly, the tractors had no serial tag, so it is difficult to determine total production numbers. In disscussions with local tractor experts and neighbors that worked at Grate Machine, a good estimate is 200-225 total units produced.
Some of the steering boxes were previously used on Maytag washing machines as agitators. Later models had a regular steering box. All models had fenders and a pan seat. The tractors weighed around 700 lbs. and cost approximately $200-$225 each.
Some tractor photos can be viewed at www.yesterdaystractors.com. Just click on tractor photos and search for Quaker Mule. We are encouraging anyone to send us your photos and story. The Salem Historical Society has one on display.
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