Something Different! 1940 Power Horse

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So let’s pretend for a moment it’s the 1940’s. You’re a farmer, and you are still working horses or oxen in the fields. While you’re envious of the neighbor across the county with their new-fangled tractor, you’re not sure you are ready for one yet. However, this Power Horse comes along and it’s kind of a compromise between a horse and a tractor — it is controlled by reins, just like a horse, but has the power of a tractor! This completely restored one (yes, I know it’s not a barn find, but ya gotta see it!) is available here on eBay, with a buy it now of $23,000. Whew! 

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Here’s a shot of the controls! Yes, those are reins. Pull back on one side and the Power Horse went in that direction. The stubby lever in the center chose the speed you wanted to run. Once you were seated–oh yes, you sat on whatever implement you were using, just as if you were behind a horse–you could pull the reins briefly and that would take it out of neutral and you were off and working. I guess you had the benefit of a consistent combustion exhaust smell rather than an occasional but much more noxious organic one!

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There are only about 50 left of these unusual EIMCO vehicles, and the folks that restored this one have restored others previously, so I suspect they may be the ultimate experts here! If you are interested in the history of the design, you can do some more reading here and here, and watch a video of one being used here. I also found an operating manual in a museum here. The basic design was actually produced into the early 1960’s by Harris (!) despite being first built before the Second World War. I guess the real question here is would you rather have a horse, a tractor, or a rare combination of the two?

 

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Comments

  1. Peter Rettig Member

    ‘looks like you can adjust the wheels’ centers to produce a “galloping” motion…

  2. JW

    I have no use for this except it would be way cool to own it for the cool factor.

  3. Rick

    That’s somewhat unnerving after watching the video. Relying on the hydraulics to move, it’s always “in drive”. If one of the reins breaks, you’re screwed as there is no way to stop it. And shifting gears means tying the reins in “neutral”, getting off your cart, physically moving the gear lever and getting back on. Yikes… seems like a real easy way to get run over!

  4. Howard A Member

    Jamie, you simply can’t post stuff like this 1st thing. It’s so hard to get coffee out of the keyboard. I’m just curious, how do you find this stuff? Never heard of it, although, doesn’t surprise me. Pull tractors were nothing new. Technology was changing fast for farmers, and many still used horses into the 50’s. Apparently these were considered the father of the skid steer. It seems, you pulled back on the reins to stop it, but too far and reverse would engage, so it must have been spring loaded to move forward. With a top speed of 13.5 mph ( it’s that .5 that gets you home sooner) out running it shouldn’t be a problem. Safety was the last thing on designers minds, and were more concerned with making farming easier. Safety came later, unfortunately too late for some, as farm accidents still claim lives every year.( had some close calls myself on a farm) I’ve driven just about every machine you can think of, but even this would be a little intimidating.Vintage tractors and such are really catching on, so if you have something like this way back in the barn, it won’t be long( as evidenced here) before the people that have had enough of the classic car hobby ( and where that went) and are turning to vintage farm stuff. This, however, is really cool. 23g’s cool? Wow!

  5. Bbuz

    Saw two of these in action at the Visalia farm museum, great place to go if you like tractors, diesel, gas, and steam as well as working stationary engines.

  6. Jim L

    According to my father (now passed) who grew up in rural Washington State. One of his neighbors had a Power Horse and used it for farming. When using ground engaging tools it was common practice put the knot in the reins behind your back so you were effectively inside the loop of the reins and walk behind the tractor. The neighbor was using it one day and got into a bad situation where the tractor flipped over and the reins jerked him and threw him killing him instantly. I always wondered about that story until I saw these pictures and saw that the reins were one piece of rope with a knot in the center.

    You can find a little more information on this particular one here.
    http://www.redpowermagazine.com/forums/topic/100725-power-horse-built-in-1940/

  7. Dave Wright

    I have seen these at both draft horse shows and tractor shows. They are very clever. I can’t imagine too many were built. Sort of a first step away from Horses. Rick…..many many people (including my great great grandfather) were injured and killed with horse teams. When horses take the bit in there mouth, they are pretty tough to get out of gear too!!! Fun find, don’t know about the price. Tractor guys have plenty of cash for toys too.

  8. CelestialGryphon

    This might be the coolest thing I’ve seen all week.

  9. JW454

    I’m wondering if somewhere along the way, some clever farmer fashioned may have a seat and converted one of these to a “ride-on” to make it a bit safer to use. Having hands on control would be preferable to relying on the rope pull affair. Just thinking out loud… in print.

    • Dave Wright

      I saw one with a little silky cart behind it. We also used a little cart like that on large self powered tractor/tillers that were common. I can’t bring to mind the brand name, but they were single axle tractors that had a substantial Wisconsin engine. Steering was by handle bars like a bicycle.. There were many attachments available for them. Now I have to do a Howard and look it up……..

      • CATHOUSE

        Dave, are you thinking of the Gravely brand?

      • Dave Wright

        I know Gravely built some, I think the one we had was a wheel horse……now Barretto is the big manufacturer of them but there were others too. Thanks for the hint. When my dad was a kid he bought a Gibson tractor to till the neighbors gardens. Also a lever steering tractor but a 4 wheeler. I looked and looked for one before he died but couldn’t find the model he had.

      • Howard A Member
    • Howard A Member

      Hi Jay Dubya454, I believe Harris did make a model like that. https://assets.hemmings.com/story_image/141891-500-0.jpg?rev=1

  10. Wm Lawrence

    I suppose it was preferable to buy one of these to pull your existing farm implements rather than having to invest in a whole new suite of tools.

  11. Rolf Poncho 455

    damn smart iron hors

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