Oliver Corporation
Predecessor Oliver Chilled Plow
Nichols and Shepard
American Seeding Machine Company
Successor White Farm Equipment
Founded 1929
Founder(s) James Oliver
Defunct 1976
Headquarters South Bend, USA
Products agriculture machinery tractor

The Oliver Corporation was a tractor manufacturer formed in 1929 by the merger of the Oliver Chilled Plow Company, the Nichols and Shepard Company, the American Seeding Machine Company, and the Hart-Parr Tractor Company. The company was taken over by the White Farm Equipment company in 1960. And subsequently absorbed into AGCO. The company no longer exists, and its patents are now owned by AGCO Corporation.

The Merger[edit | edit source]

Four companies joined forces on April 1, 1929: the Oliver Chilled Plow Company dated from 1855, Hart-Parr Tractor Company began operations in 1897, American Seeding Machine Company, dated back to 1848, and the Nichols and Shepard Company likewise began operations in 1848.

By 1929, each of these companies had essentially outgrown its usefulness to the industry. For most of them, the market had some time earlier reached a saturation point. In some instances, their machines were badly dated and rapidly approaching obsolescence. For each of these companies to have attempted further activity on solo basis would almost have certainly been disastrous. By uniting their various and somewhat diverse product lines into a single company, Oliver Farm Equipment instantly became a virtual full-line manufacturer.

Companies merged to form Oliver Farm Equipment Company[edit | edit source]

American Seeding Machine Company[edit | edit source]

The American Seeding Machine Company was organized in 1903 from the a merger of seven different manufacturers of grain drills, corn planters and other "seeding machines." The leading corporate component among the seven merged companies was the Superior Drill Company of Springfield, Ohio.[1] Accordingly, the American Seeding Machine Company established its corporate headquarters at Springfield in the facilities formerly operated by the Superior Drill Company.[1] Other companies which formed the 1903 merger include P. P. Mast and Company (est. 1856), Hoosier Drill Company (est. 1857), the Empire Drill Company, and Bickford & Huffman. The Superior Drill Company named lived on for many years following the merger that created Oliver, in the "Oliver Superior" line of seeding drills and related equipment.

Hart-Parr[edit | edit source]

Main article: Hart-Parr

The Hart-Parr company was founded by Charles Walter Hart of Charles City, Iowa and Charles H. Parr. They had met at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Eventually, Hart and Parr would work together on their Special Honours Thesis, presented in 1896, from which they created their first engine. Before their graduation in 1897, they had formed the Hart-Parr Gasoline Engine Company, specializing in oil-cooled engines for farms. Based upon their demonstrated engines, they were able to borrow $3,000 locally to set up the gas engine company. Unfortunately, investors were not interested in gasoline traction engines.

The Hart-Parr number 1 was completed in 1902. W.H. Williams, Sales Manager in 1906, decided the words "traction engine" were vague and too long to be used in press releases, so he coined the word "Tractor" instead.

Oliver Chilled Plow Company[edit | edit source]

An Oliver 2 Furrow trailed plow

James Oliver was born in Scotland on August 28, 1823, and immigrated to America in 1834 when he was eleven.

The family landed in Garden Castle, New York. James later recounted that as a bewildered lad on the dock, he was given an orange by one man, and a kick by another. He never forgot either. A few years later the family moved west to Indiana. James was afforded one year of schooling, but that abruptly ended when his father died in 1837.

James then hired himself out to the owner of a pole-boat for $6.00 per week. He took $5.00 of it home to his mother. Although James liked the river, he did not take to the rowdy life of a riverman. He quit the occupation and began to learn the iron moulding trade.

Bad times in the iron business saw James also learn the cooper's trade. James was married in 1844 and worked at moulding, coopering, and farming, until he was thirty-two years old. By then, he and his wife had a $1,000.00 house and a quarter-section of land.

It was at this time that an event occurred in the life of James Oliver that would greatly affect his future, the future of many others, and the future of agriculture worldwide. While in South Bend on business, Oliver met a man who wanted to sell a quarter interest in his foundry at the inventory value ($88.96). Oliver happened to have $100.00 in his pocket at the time. Thus, in 1855, James Oliver found himself in the cast-iron business in the role of management, rather than that of a worker. One of the products of the foundry was a cast-iron plough. James knew ploughs and none that he tried were satisfactory.

Attempts to harden the cast-iron low began almost with the first use of these ploughs, to make them more durable. Making the chilled plough a practical success was due to the efforts of James Oliver.

The chilled plough, due to its very hard outer skin, was able to scour in heavy soils. It was also capable of greater durability than common cast-iron ploughs. So, Oliver really solved two problems.

On July 22, 1868, the South Bend Iron Works was incorporated to manufacture the Oliver Chilled Plow.

In 1870, the famous Oliver trade mark was designed and adapted, appearing on every Oliver chilled plow.

James Oliver died in 1908 at the age of eighty-five. Joseph D. Oliver became head of the company. Joseph had rare gifts for organization and marketing, and the company continued to thrive and expand. It was Joseph who led the company into the amalgamation with Hart-Parr and others in 1929, to form the Oliver Farm Equipment Company.

Oliver Corporation[edit | edit source]

After the creation of the new Oliver from uniting the various and somewhat diverse product lines into a single company, Oliver Farm Equipment instantly became a virtual full-line manufacturer. Within a few years after its formation the corporate name was shortened to simply read Oliver Corporation.

For the first couple of years, the tractors carried the Oliver-Hart-Parr designation, but the Hart-Parr essence soon disappeared, just as an entirely new line of purely Oliver tractors made their appearance.

Subsequent to 1929, Oliver Corporation acquired several successful companies, in order to broaden the already extensive Oliver line.

The Cleveland Tractor Company, known as Cletrac became a part of the Oliver family in 1944. Crawler tractor production ended at Charles City in 1965. Wheeled tractor production stopped straight away, having only started in 1939.

In 1948, Oliver was ready with an entirely new line of tractors. These were built over the successes of the past, including the Oliver 60, 70, and 80 tractors.

The latter was even built with a diesel engine, although very few were sold. However, in the 1950s, Oliver was an industry leader through their promotion of diesel power. Oliver led the industry in the sale of diesel tractor for several years.

The Oliver 66, 77 and 88 tractors of the 1948 to 1954 period, marked an entirely new series of Fleetline models. The 77 and 88 could be bought with either gasoline or diesel engines. During 1954, the company upgraded these tractors with the new "Super" series models, and added the Oliver Super 55. It was the company's first compact utility tractor.

A Oliver 500 a rebadged David Brown at Lincoln Steam Rally 2008

In 1958, Oliver began marketing the new 660, 770, 880, 990, and other new models.

Oliver also badge engineered some David Brown models based on David Brown 850 and David Brown 990 models.

White Take Over[edit | edit source]

White Motor Corporation of Cleveland, Ohio had a long history of truck manufacturing. On November 1, 1960, White Motor acquired Oliver Corporation as a wholly owned subsidiary.

Cockshutt[edit | edit source]

Main article: Cockshutt

White also acquired Cockshutt Farm Equipment of Canada in February, 1962, and it was made a subsidiary of Oliver Corporation. Cockshutt had also previously in 1928, marketed tractors made by Hart-Parr and again from 1934 through the late 1940s, marketed tractors made by Oliver, only changing the paint colour to red, and changing the name tags to Cockshutt.

Minneapolis-Moline[edit | edit source]

Main article: Minneapolis-Moline

Minneapolis-Moline became a wholly owned subsidiary of White Motor Corporation in 1963. The Minneapolis-Moline line was blended into that of Oliver until there was virtually no difference between them.

White Farm Equipment Co.[edit | edit source]

Main article: White Farm Equipment

In 1960, the new four-digit tractor models appeared. Among them were the 1600, 1700, 1800 and 1900 models. Some models were made by David Brown, Fiat and SAME for Oliver. In 1969 White Motor Corporation formed White Farm Equipment Company, almost immediately after a transitional period when virtually identical tractors were marketed under different trade names. A few models were sold as Oliver, Minneapolis, or Cockshutt, the major difference being the paint colour. As the transaction continued, the White name was more and more applied to the tractor line, with the Oliver 2255, also known as the White 2255, being the last purely "Oliver" tractor. With the introduction of the White 4-150 Field Boss in 1974, the White name would be used, henceforth to the exclusion of all others.

White divested them selves of the farm machinery division in the 1980s to TIC Investment Corporation of Dallas.

The White Motor Corporations Tractor division was taken over by AGCO in 1990.

Model Range[edit | edit source]

Tractors[edit | edit source]

Main article: List of Oliver tractors

Oliver Hart-Parr[edit | edit source]

Details of the other models required

Oliver[edit | edit source]

Oliver 70 showing adjustable splines on rear axle half shafts, at the Cromford Steam Rally in 2008

An Oliver HG 31 from 1951 on 10" tracks at the Peterborough National Tractor show in 2008

A restored Oliver OC-46 at Peterborough National Tractor show in 2008


White Oliver[edit | edit source]

Harvesters[edit | edit source]

Main article: List of Oliver harvesters

Models in UK Preservation[edit | edit source]

A few Oliver's have been imported into the UK, with a few Ex US Airforce surplus ones which were sold off surviving.

Odd examples are exhibited at shows around the country.

The American Hart Parr Oliver Collectors Association (HPOCA) are planning to build a museum to the brand.[2]

List of Preserved Oliver tractors
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Make + Model No. Reg No.
(if known)
Serial No. Build-Date Engine-Type/Make Owner
(if known)
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Create a page (link) for an individual tractor by linking the reg or serial number using reg number or serial number in the relevant column. Then once saved click the red link to start the new page and add info on that tractor.

See also[edit | edit source]

Reference / sources[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 C.H. Wendel, Encyclopedia of American Farm Implements & Antiques (Krause Publications: Iola, Wisc., 2004) p. 189.
  2. HPOCA

Literature[edit | edit source]

  • Oliver Tractor Data Book, Motorbooks International, ISBN 978-0760310830
  • Classic Oliver Tractors: History, Models, Variations & Specifications 1855-1976, Motorbooks International, ISBN 978-0760331996

External links[edit | edit source]

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