Gas Traction Co.

Although the company changed its name in 1908, their tractor was still called the “Transit” as late as 1909. By 1910, Gas Traction Company billed itself as the “first and largest builder in the world of four-cylinder farm tractors”. The “Big 4” soon won several medals at various fairs and expositions. The automatic plowing guide ran in the furrow and freed the operator for other duties. This was a valuable feature when the furrows were a mile or more in length. After Emerson-Brantingham bough out Gas Traction, the Big 4 “Thirty” was built for several years. By 1915, most of the prairies had been broken up and the big tractor market declined.

Manufacture Logo


Gas Traction Company had its beginnings with D. M. Hartsough’s tractor experiment in 1899. During that year Hartsough built a small one-cylinder outfit of 8 horsepower. A larger 15 horsepower model was built in 1900. Hartsough left this machine in the care of his son and toured the Dakotas in an effort to raise money for further experiments. The third machine, built-in 1901-1902, had two cylinders. This led to a fourth model built in 1904 with four 4 x 5-inch cylinders. It represented a radical departure from accepted practice, tractors up to that time had been plugging along on a one or two-cylinder engine, most of them were stationary engines adapted to traction use. In 1906, Patrick J. Lyons took notice of Hartsough’s tractor, and arrangements were made to build the tractor in Minneapolis, and as a result, the Transit Thresher Company was formed. In 1908, the name was changed to Gas Traction Company. The powerful Emerson-Brantingham Company needed a tractor to fill out its implement line, a deal was made, and E-B bought out Gas Traction Company in 1912.


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Big Four


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