Quadractor 4x4

2 speed transmission with reverse
8 hp Briggs and Stratton engine
3 feet of ground clearance
4 wheel drive
4 wheel steering
Mid-mounted winch

Quadractor Pictures

Belt sizes, emailed in from Pat C.
NAPA numbers
Low Gear: 4L820
High Gear: 4L760
Reverse: 4L850
Secondary Drive to Leg Pully: 4L820

Belt sized, emailed in from Will:
"NAPA A81 for the low speed, A83 for the reverse,to work best change all 4 belts at once. Throw out the high speed belts,how fast do you think you can go on this thing. I have used NAPA A80 belts on the Secondary Drive System."

Some Quadractor history thanks to Bill W.

The Quadractor was invented by a guy named Spence (William G.?) He was working for an aircraft manufacturer that was given the job of designing a landing gear that could propel an airplane over rough terrain to a runway where it could then take off. The design was not bought and was to be shelved so Spence purchased the patents and manufacturing rights. He then built a tractor around the landing gear.

Spence then sold distributor franchises. He was more inventor than businessman. Rather than manufacture tractors he tinkered with the money and didn't deliver product. I suppose the press was good for a while. The "Mother Earth" article must have helped sales a bit but weren't enough to support a guy who wasn't going to produce.

The Quadractor was meant to be used by small lumber operations. They were to drive the tractor over a fallen log, loop the cable from the centrally mounted winch around an end of the log, raise the end under the tractor then motor out of the lot with the log. The weight of the log adds to the down force on all four wheels and that reduces the tire slippage on the ground. The engine produces 8 to 8-1/2 HP but the speed reduction through the belt and gear system is 72:1. The tractor isn't very fast but it can't be stopped. With the articulation of the wheel around the leg and the turning ability it becomes a very versatile pulling machine. And the key to the tractor moving over rough terrain is the articulation of the wheel in the vertical plane. This allows the tire to get a better bite when it is climbing up.

In the early 80's Spence must have realized he was in trouble so he sold the manufacturing rights and tooling to China. The People's Republic of China that is.

It was thought that the simplicity of the thing with the belt drive system and the ground clearance would be ideal for planting and cultivating rice.

Enter Ravens Metal Products.

Ravens was and still is a manufacturer of aluminum trailers. Flatbed and Dumps. Swirled Aluminum finish. Best looking trailers on the road. The trailer industry is very cyclical. When business is good you can't make them fast enough. When business is bad there is no one in the plant except the owner and the guard.

A fellow named Rodney Estes Wilson ran ravens. That's the Estes, Colorado Estes.

REW decided that Ravens needed to diversify and somehow go green in an automotive sort of way. Don't know where or when he heard of the Quadractor but he decided Ravens was the company and place to build them. So in '81-82 he purchased the manufacturing rights from Spence. He rented space in a plant in Marietta, OH to do the assembly work. As I mentioned, the tooling went to China. So Ravens had to buy parts from China. Ravens contracted to buy enough parts for 96 units through some international broker named Tong. The parts arrived in Marietta and the money went to Tong and Tong and the money went to Brazil. So, no more parts from China.

By this time, late 1982, REW had hired my Father to put the assembly plant together and get it staffed for production which he did. The parts were a mess and needed a lot of work before the assembly could be completed. Each unit was pretty well adjusted and tweaked to make it right. Body panels had to be cleaned sanded and painted because the paint job was so bad. Poorly protected steel traveling over salt water is not a good thing.

Ravens, having signed a 3 year lease for the plant had to find something else to do with the space so they landed 3 government defense contracts to build aircraft boarding ladders and pontoon bridge parts. I was hired by my Father to do the drawings and tooling and jigs for these contracts. Being an engineer in search of a job at the time I thought that was a pretty good thing.

So, while I was coordinating the government work, the Quadractors were being assembled and set on the plant floor. Sales had dropped like Wile E. Coyote off a cliff. Word must have gotten out about the parts predicament.

The higher ups estimated that it would take a million dollars to begin producing parts so the decision was made to cease production. The final 50 or so units were sold at auction and went for around $900 each. The retail price was supposed to be about $6000. That really hurt.

I wanted to buy one in the worst way but didn't have the money for it. Rats. Come to think of it, I didn't have any reason to own one and didn't have any way to transport it. I still don't. But I still want one.

While Ravens was setting up dealers, the "Sales Team" of Joe Parton, now deceased, Joe Wiseman, and my Father, Conrad would take a Quadractor to county fairs and farm shows and compete in tractor pulls. These pulls are based on horsepower, not size, dollars or intention. The event was usually no more than dragging a plate of steel along a row of men who would hop on when it went past. The tractor that stalled at the greatest distance was the winner. The Quadractor, with is 72:1 reduction, was never stalled. It was competing against large lawn mowers.

So, that is the tale of the Quadractor in the early 80's. It is a workhorse of a machine. A guy with a large pickup, a Quadractor and a Woodmizer could probably make a decent living in the right area.

I held on to a near complete set of prints and may, one day, build one.

One other thing, the steering wheel, in case you noticed, is just something to hang onto while driving. But, if you remove the drive belts from the front wheels the Quadractor drives like a car with power steering.

If you are interested in Quadractors, feel free to contact Matt here or at his message board at the Quadractor Message Board.

Check Rokon World for another weird off road vehicle.

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