Gray Tractor Co.

Gray tractors had their origins with W. Chandler Knapp. He built this little two-cylinder model in 1908 as an alternative to horse-drawn machinery in his orchards. It was low, lightweight, and had an underslung frame. Knapp was not then interested in building tractors commercially but sought to build a machine to fill his particular needs. Knapp’s 1909 model featured two close-coupled drive wheels, was heavier and used enclosed transmission gears. Already known as the Knapp farm locomotive, this machine was one of the first to demonstrate the drum-drive principle. The 1910-1911 machine once again featured the close-coupled drive wheels. A three-point suspension frame was used and the machine was found to be more practical than its predecessors. Its low profile gave a low center of gravity. By 1912, Knapp’s tractor had roughly assumed the design that would be followed through the rest of production. After Gray Tractor Company was organized in 1914, there were a few major changes. The 18-36 model was the most popular size.

Manufacture Logo


Already in 1908, W. Chandler Knapp saw the need for an orchard tractor. Knapp was a prominent fruit grower near Rochester, New York. Several different models appeared in the following years, and Knapp made some attempts to market them. By 1913, the Knapp Farm Locomotive was proving itself, and plans were made to relocate to Minneapolis, Minnesota. The move was made in 1914, the Gray Tractor Company was organized, and the model known as the Gray tractor was placed on the market. its first demonstration in the Middle West was at the Power Farming Demonstration at Fremon, Nebraska in August 1914. For the 1916 season, two Gray tractor models were offered, the 20-35 and the 15-25. Joseph W. Gray was president of the firm. Originally it was known as Gray tractor Manufacturing Company. In May 1917, the corporation was reorganized for $2 million and “Manufacturing” was dropped from the corporate name. Production was then confided to the 18-30 model. A further reorganization followed in April 1925. After this time, the 22-40 Canadian Special was the only model available, and production ended entirely by 1933.


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# Produced

1908 Knapp Tractor


1909 Knapp Tractor


1914 Tractor


B (12-25)


A (20-35)


13 (15-25)


A (20-35)






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