The Big and Little Bull Tractors
In the period of time surrounding WWI, large tractors were commonly seen on farms. These tractors were expensive to use, however, and modest farm owners were looking for something smaller that could still fill their needs but at less expense. Seeing the need for a smaller yet equally affective machine, the Bull Tractor Company of Minneapolis, Minnesota opened its doors in 1914. With a design by D.M. Hartsough introduced that same year, it initially seemed that the need for smaller tractors could be met.
The Little Bull of 1914 was a three wheel tractor driven by a two cylinder engine capable of between 5-12hp. At the front was a single steel wheel and to the rear was one sizable driving wheel with a lesser sized land wheel opposing it. To say the design was a bit odd was an understatement. In addition to looking strange, it had another downfall, that being its inability to perform as intended, which led to public disinterest in the machine.
Along came the Big Bull in 1915, which was an effort by the Bull Tractor Company to again win over consumers. Since the Little Bull was largely unproven, the 'Big Bull with the Pull' as it was dubbed came with assertions of successful field work. This machine was powered by a larger engine than the Little Bull and touted 7hp at the drawbar and 20hp at the belt, or so it was guaranteed. This machine, which also had three wheels of varying sizes, could be yours for a mere $585.00, the equivalent of which is about $10512.00 today.
In addition to the claims made about successful field work conducted by the Big Bull, a newsletter was published by the manufacturer with owner testimonials. These testimonials were often packed with praise and sometimes intended to entertain, but the underlying point was to promote Bull tractors, shining a positive light upon them. As luck would have it, however, testimonials and praise were not enough to keep this three wheeled tractor rolling off of the production line. Without contracts in place to continue production, the number of tractors available was too few to keep up with the demand and other manufacturers were able to swoop in and grab at their own piece of the small tractor pie.
Despite efforts at improving upon their design even further, the Bull Tractor Company was unable to remain a strong competitor in the tractor world. The Big Bull was given more power and greater capabilities overall, but to no avail. Despite importing tractors to Canada in 1917 and a merger with Madison Motors Corporation in 1919, the company was forced to close its doors for the final time. It was then, in the year 1920, that the Bulls were put out to pasture for good.