By Sherry Schaefer, editor Heritage Iron magazine
During the Heritage Iron era, every tractor manufacturer had goals and aspirations of being “the first”. Allis Chalmers has the honor of being the first company to test a turbocharged tractor at Nebraska in 1962. IH introduced their first turbo with the 1206 in 1965. For Oliver, their first turbocharged model would come in 1967 with the 1950-T, which eventually took the place of the GM powered 1950.
In 1960, Oliver introduced their biggest horse, the 1900. Powered by the mighty 4-53 GM engine and rated at 89 PTO horsepower with 82 on the drawbar, Oliver marketed the 1900 as the “biggest, most modern tractor of its type.” This 8-plow tractor evolved into the 1950 in 1964. Oliver claimed this was the most powerful Row-Crop tractor on the market.
While this was a very successful model, the price put it out of the range of many. Oliver needed to come up with a new, mid-range model without spending a lot of money on redesign.
Oliver’s solution was to create a narrower, powerful tractor that could use the same implements as the 1750 and 1850 but keep up with the 1950. To do this, Oliver used the 310 CID Oliver/Waukesha diesel engine out of the 1750, put a turbo on it and mounted it in a new model which was known as the 1950-T. This engine put out 105 certified horsepower on the PTO just like the GM powered 1950, except base price on this was $9900 vs. $11,000 for the 1950 GM. Now Oliver had a 7-8 plow tractor with big power and a turbo for less money.
The heartbeat of the 1950-T was a proven engine built and designed as a joint venture between Oliver and Waukesha. These two had a good working relationship since the 1930’s and Oliver even owned stock in Waukesha Motors. The 6-cylinder 310 had a 3 7/8” bore and 4 3/8” stroke, which were identical specs to the diesel engine in the 1750. Even though the specs were the same, the engine was modified to handle the extra horsepower and the pressure of the charger.
Oliver incorporated a unique system on their turbocharged engines in order to take full advantage of the engines firing order. This “pulse utilization” system divided the exhaust manifold so that the exhaust gases from the pulses from the cylinders could beat alternately between the front and rear chambers. This gave two paths for the exhaust gases that helped drive the turbine fan and Oliver felt this was advantageous in the form of efficiency under heavy loads.
This tractor was monumental in certain aspects. It was Oliver’s first turbocharged tractor but it was also the first to use Oliver’s Over/Under Hydraul-Shift transmission. This turned the 6-speed transmission into an 18-speed with 6-reverse speeds.
The 1950-T was offered in several configurations. The Row Crop model came with an adjustable front, narrow front or a utility-type, under-mounted front axle. The Wheatland/Ricefield models were equipped with an arched, heavy-duty stationary front axle that oscillated for crossing levees or rough ground. In addition, the operator’s platform was enclosed with splash panels on the front.
The 1950-T four-wheel drive model was also available with mechanical front wheel assist or a Levy hydraulic axle.
The 1950-T was more than just a workhorse. It had all the comforts of a modern tractor. The Tilt-O-Scope power steering allowed tilting of the wheel while sitting in the 4-way adjustable upholstered seat. The steering wheel also had a telescoping option to allow five settings in the height of the steering column for driving while standing. Gauges for oil, water, ammeter, fuel, tac-hourmeter, and speedometer were all within easy viewing and reach.
When Oliver was marketing this tractor, their competitive data listed the following models: AC D21-II, IH 1206, Massey 1130 and Case 1030. Each of these models were muscle tractor in their day and the overlooked 1950-T belongs up on a pedestal like the rest of them as Oliver’s first turbocharged tractor.