Heider 15-27 (1920)

The Museum Collection features a 1920 Model C 15-27 tractor donated by G.A. Skardal of Baldur.

The Heider Company got its start when two brothers, Henry and John Heider set up shop in 1903 to manufacture a 4 horse evener that Henry had invented. They opened a shop in Albert Lea, Minnesota but business was so successful a bigger shop was needed and they relocated to Carrol, Iowa where a suitable building was located. Yoke, double trees, single trees, eveners up to 6 horses, step ladders and ladders were manufactured in the new plant.

In 1907, the Heider Company needed more power to operate the plant and purchased a 25 horsepower Lambert gas engine. With this engine, Henry became interested in gas tractors.

Lambert Gas and Gasoline Engine Company was an early US producer of gas engines which also was investigating gas tractor possibilities.  John William Lambert, the owner of Lambert Gas engines, was also investigating a friction drive disc gearing transmission.

By 1909 -1910 a conventional 4 wheeled friction drive tractor, the Model A, had appeared at Heider. While conventional in layout the tractor featured a friction drive transmission of Henry Heider’s design. In this design, two discs were set at right angles to each other. The disc driven off the engine was faced with compressed wood fibres. When the transmission was engaged this disc was pushed into the side of the other disc, driving it and in so doing making the tractor move. This friction transmission offered 7 speeds.  Friction drive transmissions were a feature of the Heider tractor designs that followed the Model A..

The Heider B was introduced in 1912 and while it was a success, the Model B had its problems. Henry Heider aware of these shortcomings was also aware of the need to partner with a major company with the resources to address design issues. The Rock Island Company had the financial resources and was looking for a tractor to fill out its product line. A deal was struck with Rock Island. The Model C then was designed and put into production. The Model C proved to be a great success and orders overwhelmed the Heider Company’s production facilities. Heider facing a costly plant expansion, received an offer from Rock Island to purchase the tractor line. After consideration Heider accepted the offer and sold the rights and patients regarding Heider tractors to Rock Island.  Tractor production moved to Rock Island facilties in 1916 leaving Heider to continue on with making horse equipment and wagons. Heider remained in business until 1983 making wagons. At that time the business was sold to the Wellbuilt Company.

Rock Island built the Model C for a number of years and went to produce the Model D, the Heider lift plow, Heider M2 and M1 tractors and a tractor model called the 15-27 in 1925 which appears to have been an updated Model C. Henry Heider was retained by Rock Island as a designer for a number of years after Rock Island’s purchase of the Heider tractor line


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