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Tractor Trendsetters: Avery 12-25

Jan 08, 2013

Tractor Trendsetters: Avery 12-25
Written by Larry Gay

The Avery Company of Peoria, Illinois, was a prominent manufacturer of steam traction engines and threshers in the early 1900s. When gasoline traction engines began to grow in popularity, the Avery Company entered the market with the Avery Farm Tractor which the company described as a combination farm wagon and general farm power machine. It was built in the configuration of a truck with a belt pulley on the front and had the capability to pull a 3-bottom plow. The solid-rubber rear drive wheels used wood plugs to improve traction for field work.

The first conventional Avery tractor was similar to the large, heavy-weight competitive tractors of that time period. However by 1915, the Avery Company had developed a line of five sizes of tractors. Rated by drawbar and belt horsepower, the five tractors were the 8-16, 12-25, 18-36, 25-50, and 40-80. All five featured horizontal opposed engines, round vertical radiators, and a sliding frame system for the engine and radiator which provided two forward speeds.

Phillip Rose was one of the founders of the American Society of Agricultural Engineers in 1907 and in 1915 he made a survey of the farm tractor industry by visiting 98 tractor manufacturers. The results of his extensive study were compiled in U.S Tractor Industry 1915 which discussed the trends he had observed in the industry and his evaluation of each of the companies. Rose described how the industry had changed from heavy-weight tractors to middle-weight tractors starting in about 1912 and discussed the beginning of the trend to light-weight tractors. He stated the Avery 12-25 tractor was Avery’s most popular model and was the one that led the trend to middle-weight tractors.

The Avery 12-25 tractor was rated as a 4-plow tractor and sold for $1,200 in 1916. It weighed 7,500 pounds as compared to the Avery 40-80 with a weight of 22,000 pounds. The 12-25 was powered by a 2-cylinder opposed engine with a 6 ½-inch bore and a 7-inch stroke. The round radiator with its many vertical copper tubes was open on all sides to provide cooling for the engine. The combination spur gear transmission and sliding frame system, which moved the engine and radiator forwards and backwards to engage one of the two different-sized pinion gears on the crankshaft, provided forward speeds of 1 ¾ and 2 ¾ miles per hour. Operator comfort was provided by a partial cab with a roof for shade and a platform mounted on springs, but there was not a seat for the operator on the 12-25.

Larry Gay is the author of four tractor books published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, including Farm Tractors 1975-1995 and Farm Tractors 1995-2005. These books may be obtained from ASABE at 800-695-2723 or, click publications and then click book catalog.

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