Bull Tractor Co.

The Little Bull was first displayed at the Minnesota State Fair in September 1913. The pilot models were built in the plant of Andrews Heating Company, but a contract was soon arranged with Minneapolis Steel & Machinery Company to build the machine. The 1914 model had a two-cylinder opposed motor with a 5-12 horsepower rating. It performed fairly well under good conditions but lacked the necessary reserve power. It must be conceded that this model had not been tested as it should have been, and many farmers were justified in their complaints. The 7-20 Big Bull emerged in 1915. By 1917, the engine was enlarged to 12 drawbars and 24 brake horsepower. In addition, a land wheel drive was added, but the large drive wheel was retained, as was the leveling device used on earlier models. A drilled crankshaft provided lubrication. By 1920, the Bull Tractor Company was bankrupt

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P. J. Lyons, along with several associates organized and incorporated Bull Tractor Company in January of 1914. D.M. Hartsough had designed the Bull tractor; Hartsough and Lyons had founded the Gas Traction Company in 1908. All of the company’s organizers had been in the tractor business for several years. Along the way, they discovered that they were selling too much iron for too much money, and often failed to get the money. The new Bull organization decided to start off with less iron and less money, but the cardinal rule was to get the money! The “Little Bull” released in 1914 was not a big success even though 3,800 of them were sold between April and September. With a bad reputation from its first tractor, Bull advertised the “Big Bull” as the ultimate in tractors. Even though the Little Bull was unsatisfactory, it led the industry in 1914 sales and put the established tractor builders into a tailspin. Sales rank dropped steadily thought, and in 1917, Bull placed 7th in sales. D.M. Hartsough had designed the Bull. The company wished to market a tractor of similar design that would sell for $50 less than the Bull. Hartsough agreed to design such an outfit but sold the new design and patents to the Lion Tractor Company at Minneapolis. Lyons went ahead with its tractor and Bull promptly filed suit against the Lyon bunch. Restraining orders and appeals followed for some time, reflecting the intense rivalry between these firms. Bull made a contract with Gile Engine Company at Ludington, Michigan to purchase Gile tractor engines for the Bull tractors. This didn’t work out, so in 1915, Toro Motors Company was organized to build the engines and they were to be built exclusively in Bull tractors. Through 1917, Bull tractors were built in the shops of Minneapolis Steel & Machinery company. The Twin City people canceled their contract to build Bull tractors in 1917, so here was the Bull Company without a factory. Quickly plans were made to organize with the Whitman Agricultural Company at St. Louis, Missouri. After several months of negotiations, the deal fell through. Under a new reorganization plan, arrangements were made for building Bull tractors in Minneapolis, this time using the new factory of Toro Motor Company. This plan didn’t work out either, and in April 1919, Bull Tractor Company merged with Madison Motors Corporation, Anderson, Indiana. By mid-1920, the Bull-Madison venture went broke and was sold by receivers to American Motor Parts Company.


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Little Bull


Big Bull


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