As early as 1914, a Gray Tractor was brought to market by Joseph Gray of Minneapolis, Minn.
The corporation was capitalized at about $2 million an known as the Gray Tractor Manufacturing Company. It demonstrated its first model at the Power Farming Demonstration in Fremont, Neb., in 1914.
Gray Tractors featured a drum drive, the idea for which was credited to Chandler Knapp, who built the early models, but was not interested in pursuing the venture. Thus, Gray began the manufacture with few major changes in Knapp's design.
During this time, there were several companies that offered a drive-type drive. Among them were Farmers Oil Tractor, Dakota, Emerson, Derr and Kinkhead. However, the design never became a feature of mass-produced tractors.
The Gray Model 22-40 came on the market in 1925 and was called the Canadian Special. It featured a four-cylinder Waukesha engine. The 516 CID engine was cross-mounted with a 5 1/8- by 6 1/4-inch bore and stroke. It operated at 1050 RPM.
The first Gray Tractors used a two-cylinder engine, but by 1920, this was replaced by a four-cylinder engine by Waukesha.
The drum was driven by a cone clutch with a roller chain to a large gear bolted to the drum. The front wheels were large-spoked steel rims.
The entire tractor had a steel canopy over the radiator, engine, transmission and drive chain.
The Gray Tractor Company offered the 22-40 from 1925 to 1933, the last year of production.
Several years ago, the writer attended a museum sale of vintage tractors in Wisconsin and the collection included a Gray Tractor that was sold for $8,900.
Editor's note: Written by Delmer Dooley, an agricultural engineer, former high school ag teacher (Platte), expert on vintage tractors and farmer. The author lives with his wife on his parents' homestead farm near Ramona in Lake County.