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Moline Plow Co.
Predecessor Universal Tractor Co.
Successor Minneapolis-Moline
Founded 1870
Defunct 1929
Headquarters Moline, Illinois, USA
Products agriculture machinery tractor

Moline Universal Tractor advertisement, 1918.[1]

Moline Universal implement attachment points, 1920.[2]

A restored Moline Universal.

An overview of the Stephens Salient Six automobile, built by the Stephens division of the Moline Plow Company, in the journal Horseless Age, 1918.

Moline Plow was formed in the 1870s when the firm of Candee & Swan, a competitor of Deere and Company (also of Moline), won a lawsuit against Deere allowing it to use the "Moline Plow" name.[3] Reorganized under the new name, it built a line of horse-drawn plows and other implements to serve the large American agricultural market. The implement line included wagons and carriages. The company absorbed various smaller wagon and carriage building companies.


Moline Plow purchased the Universal Tractor Co. of Columbus, Ohio, USA in 1915, and moved its manufacturing to Moline. From that purchase until 1923, the company built a versatile tractor called the Moline Universal Tractor, which was an early attempt to serve unmet market demand for a small, light, affordable, general-purpose tractor. It was a two-wheel tractor whose trailing implement provided the rear wheels to form a four-wheel articulated unit. Its nimble design was more suitable for cultivating row crops than were most contemporary tractors. In various advertisements the name was sometimes hyphenated as "Moline-Universal". An overview of Moline Universal design and operation, written by the company as a contributing corporate author to a 1920 how-to guide for farmers, is available in Harry W. Adams' 1920 book Adams' Common Sense Instruction On Gas Tractor Operation.[2] Moline Plow considered the Allis-Chalmers Model 6-12, a very similar tractor, to be a patent-infringing copy.[4]

Also around 1916, Moline Plow entered the automobile business with the Stephens brand, named after one of the founders of Moline Plow.

Around 1918 or 1919, the Willys-Overland Company purchased a majority interest in the Moline Plow Company in response to Henry Ford building the Fordson, and General Motors purchase of Samson. The company continued to function without a branding change. Mr. Willys had as his partners in the tractor trade: George N. Peek (a well known farm equipment executive) and General Hugh S. Johnson (later a famous NRA administrator). Willys produced the Moline Universal tractor into the 1920's. In the 1920's when the tractor boom subsided, Willys withdrew from Moline and sold out to his partners. General Johnson became President and R.W. Lea became Vice President of Moline Plow Company.[5]

The Moline Universal was a commercial success, but the unfavorable economic climate of the early 1920s, including the post–World War I recession, the Depression of 1920–21, and the tractor wars, forced it out of production in 1923.[3] The Stephens brand of automobiles ended in 1924. With the end of these two business lines, Moline Plow had divested itself from the tractor and automobile businesses, and it chose the implement line for its future focus. It changed its name to the Moline Implement Company to reflect this.

In 1929, the Moline Implement Company was merged with two other companies, the Minneapolis Steel & Machinery Company (Twin-City Tractors) and the Minneapolis Threshing Machine Co. (both of Minneapolis, Minnesota), to form the Minneapolis-Moline Power Implement Company.[3]


Moline Universal Model ??

Moline Tractor Models
Model Year(s) Produced Horsepower Engine Type Misc Notes Photo
Moline D
Moline RTN
Moline Universal B
Moline Universal D 9 hp (6.7 kW)
Moline 10-12 10 hp (7.5 kW)


External Links

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