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A Short Story of Empire Tractors

2572 Views 0 Replies 1 Participant Last post by  Mike Unwin
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Well this is my first try at telling the story of Canada's Empire tractor, a little history and a little on my tractor efforts. A few pictures and a promise to upload all my recently acquired literature of this little told story. Hopefully this will kick start a real writer who can do a complete story.

So I was asked to put something together about my old walk behind an
Empire Model X this was the nominal 3 Horse power tractor using a Briggs and Stratton engine. Assuming the engine tag to be original it is a 1945 tractor built in Windsor Ontario at war's end. The tractor sold for approx $431. with plow, disc, cultivator and tool bar. About this time there were 3 models to be had. A small 1.5 horse power with a Peterborough built Johnson Iron Horse 4 stroke. Mine which is the middle walk behind a Model X with Briggs 2.75 horse power engine and the largest Model C with a Briggs and Stratton Model Z 6 Horse power.

The man behind the company who I was told a British inventor who made money in the arms industry and came to Canada and started building Empire Tractors in Tecumseh Ontario. The First tractors were a two stroke offering using Villiers engines, this tractor will have a "Tecumseh" tool box lid on it. Most but not all had "Empire" cast into the rims for easy identification. I am unsure whether the named rims were first or last. The company Garden Tractor and Equipment Company Ltd. was located at 1160 Albert Road Windsor Ontario in later years. Their literature describes them as "The Originator of Garden Tractor Manufacturing in Canada" and "Built to do the Job!"

As with most rebuilds it was a team effort. Ian who told me about it, Robert Campbell who on a day hotter and muggier than hades helped me drag it to the roads edge in Richmond Hill just before the scrappers got the rest of it. This was a well equipped tractor with lots of options; cultivator, plow and PTO for the mower. Sadly all I have left of the mower is a single tooth in the toolbox, the disc and the 40 inch mower were scrapped. Later this week I will post a owners manual in color on the site, this was graciously provided by Bill Prior.

The company also produced a Model 77 four wheel tractor. I will post more as I go on. My tractor is now back on four wheels for the first time in a long time. When I found it, it was torn down. I said to Robert if we were not here already I would not have bothered. It had sat for years with no head on it with everything seized and rotted. It required two sets of rims, tubes and tires. One of the toughest parts missing was the 9.5 inch wheel for the implements, hard to believe but I lucked out and got two from the remains of an Empire at a local scrap yard. If you are interested in how the tractor turns out I have posting under Empire Model X in the Walk Behind Forum {the good section}

Here are some pictures. The one paper is dated 1950 and states they have been in business twenty years. I don't know when they started or finished. I can't imagine there were a lot of the larger units built as they were a quality design with no chains or belts to drive. The motor was integral to the frame and the crankshaft led into a fully enclosed gear box with a pinion set like a car and a internal clutch. The drive line was protected by brass keys set in the axle to avoid breakage. The tractor is larger than I first thought and were reputed to be excellent pullers. The cost to price conscious farmers must have provided a handicap.
Thank You Mike Unwin

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