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Gibson Tractor

A History of the Gibson Manufacturing Company

The Gibson Manufacturing Corporation, Longmont, Colorado, was founded in March, 1946 by Wilber Gibson. This company was a offshoot of the original company which had been formed by Wilbur's father, Harry Gibson, at Seattle, Washington. The Seattle plant made specially built rail cars and had begun experimentation with tractors. The decision to produce tractors at Longmont was, at least, partially motivated by the desire to escape a setting where pressure to unionize was great. Longmont, located 40 miles northwest of Denver, was a small agricultural community with little or no industry at the time. The millions of dollars invested in the land, plants, and equipment coupled with the job opportunities for hundreds of local residents meant that the company was welcomed with open arms.

 

The first production tractor was a model 'A' which, along with the latter models 'D', 'SD' , and Super D, was powered with a six horsepower Wisconsin air cooled model AEH engine (some early 'Ds' had a nine HP AHH engine). The model 'A' had 7.50 x 16 rear tires and 4.00 x 12 front tires. It came with a three speed transmission and two independent rear wheel brakes. Its wheelbase was 42" and it weighed 875 lbs. It came with a full range of implements and was touted as being able to operate a 13 1/2 " plow and handle two to three acres per 10 hour day. Under maximum load, fuel consumption was one and one half quarts per hour.
Next came the model 'D' which began with 22" rear and ended up with 24" tires on rims that were adjustable, enabling a 33" minimum tread and a maximum 53 1/4" width. Fenders were optional. The 'D' had 4.00 x 12 front tires and its wheel base was 46". It weighed 955 pounds.
The model 'SD' followed and was distinguished by having a hood, grill and fenders. The 'SD' tipped the scales at 1065 pounds.

All three models had a of these distinctive characteristic of being steered with a lever. It was mounted on the right side of the frame, by pushing it forward, the tractor turned left. Pulling it back was necessary to turn right. This design was probably chosen for a combination of reasons including uniqueness, simplicity, quickness and cost effect production rates.

The Super 'D' introduced the steering wheel design but kept most of the other features of the 'SD' including the AEH engine, hood, grill and fenders. Electrical and hydraulic systems were optional and added to its 1105-pound weight.

The Super'D2" was also a steering wheel model and boasted a two cylinder, 12 horsepower model TF Wisconsin air cooled engine. On a 52" wheelbase, it weighted 1375 pounds. It rolled on 7, 8 or 9.00 x 24 rears and 4.00 x 12 fronts.

The model 'E' series consisted of an 'E', 'EF','EW' and an 'EWF'. The 'E' and 'EW' were row crop types whereas the 'EF' was a wide front, and the 'EWF' was listed as a wide tread (84") four wheel-cultivating tractor. The same tire options as the Super D2 were offered.

Production of the full sized models began in 1948 with the model 'H' series, which offered three units. The model 'H' was a tricycle type, the model 'HFS'came with a fixed standard type front axle, and the 'HFA' which had an adjustable wide front axle. The 'H' was rated as a 25-belt horsepower unit equipped with a four cylinder 1XB Hercules engine. The 'H' was rated as a two-plow unit a weighed 3650 pounds. On an 86" wheel base, it had 10 x 38 rears and 5.00 x 15 front tires. The University of Nebraska Tractor Test Laboratory tested the 'H' in May 1949, test #407.

Three different model ' I ' units were offered: The ' I ' was a tricycle front-end model, the 'IFS' had a standard fixed front axle, and the 'IFA' had a standard adjustable front axle. The ' I ' was a 40-belt horsepower six-cylinder engine ZXD Hercules engine model. Rated as a two to three plow unit, it had a 94" wheelbase and sat on 10 x 38 rears and 5.50 x 16 fronts. Its weight was 4,000 pounds and was also tested at Nebraska in May 1949 under test #408.

Production of the 'A's, 'D's, and 'E's resulted in an estimated 50,000 to 60,000 total units, whereas there were probably less than 500 each of the 'H's and 'I's made.

In addition to tractors, the Gibson company was also engaged in the production of forklifts under Government contract for the Navy during the late 1940's and early 1950's. Stories conflict somewhat and there was probably no one single reason for the company's demise. A combination of factors including competition, and pressure to meet production quotas of forklifts at the expense of turning out tractors were probably the chief ingredients in the company's downfall as it was originally known. Wilbur Gibson died in 1959 at the age of 44 from a heart attack.

Tractor production had already ceased in 1952 when the company was sold to Helene Curtis Industries of Chicago, Illinois, which, in turn organized it as a division of Fox Metal Company of Denver, Colorado. The intent was to reestablish tractor production in Denver. Instead for approximately seven months in 1953, tractor parts were sold out of the Denver plant but no tractors were made. Production interests were then "leased" to a newly formed company known as Western American Industries in Longmont, Colorado. This new company made approximately 1,000 model D's, SD's, and Super D's before being competed out of the marketplace in 1958. A Western American Industries ad dated 3-25-57 listed the following prices: 'D' $760.00; 'SD':$810.00; Super D:$845.00.

Serial numbers were located on the frame rail, usually on the right side. They were stamped into the metal and started with the model letter, followed by production sequence numbers, which were assumed to start with number one.

Model A's were painted yellow or Ford tractor gray. Early D's with 22" rear wheels were also a Ford tractor gray. Later model D's were painted Wisconsin engine gray with steel colored outer and red inner rims (front wheel hubcaps were red). All of the remaining models were red with steel colored rims (some Super D's had yellow inner rims on the rears).

Gibson tractors were sold throughout the United States and in 26 foreign countries. Many are still in use with no thought being given to semi-retiring them to shows.

The Information on this page came from http://www.gibsontractors.com , copyright by Mr. David L. Baas.