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The Topeka Hiway Mower

• CATEGORIES: Machinery, Unusual • TAGS: , .

UPDATE: I recently ran across an article discussing a pre-war Topeka Hiway mower built from Ford truck parts: http://www.farmcollector.com/tractors/mowing-tractor-zmbz14octzkel.aspx I haven’t looked any deeper into this information.

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This is Joe’s DiMaggio’s Topeka Mower in Wisconsin (see more pics here)

One source argues that the Topeka Hiway Mowers were built by ‘Shorty’ Meinhardt, who founded Meinholt Machine and Welding in Topeka Kansas. Shorty’s grandson Dean Fechter now runs the business. According to Meinhardt’s cousin, the first mower they built rolled over and broke Shorty’s back. But, that didn’t stop them from building more tractors.

Yet, according to at least one data plate, the Topeka Hiway mower was produced out of Irwindale, California, a product of the American Hoist & Derrick Company. Can anyone clear up the discrepancy between producers of the mower?

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According to Marty Henson in 2009 there were three versions of the mower:

I have kept records of all of the people I know who have these mowers and information about the style, age and attachments. So far I have found three distinct styles. The oldest style appears to date to the late 1930s and uses Ford-style sheet metal and running gear. Examples are owned by collectors near Seattle, Wash., and Hartsville, Tenn.

The second style closely follows a CJ Willys/Jeep and uses a Continental 4-cylinder flathead engine, 3- or 4-speed transmission, and Dana 18 transfer case. The mower attachments on these were either a sickle bar or rotary. I think later mowers of this style included a windshield. I have found two examples of the later style Topeka Hi Way mower. One was recently sold by the Montana Highway Dept., and the other is in Lyons, Colo.

Most, if not all, of the mowers were painted yellow. To date, I have recorded the names and addresses of 11 owners in eight states. Just today I added two more contacts. By including my previous letter in your magazine, you have generated many of my contacts. I’d like to receive information from your readers about anyone who has one of these mowers or knows where one might be found. Thank you for producing such a wonderful magazine and assisting me in researching the Topeka Hi Way mower.

Here are some examples of the jeep version of the Topeka Mower:

This was for sale in December of 2014:
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This one was for sale on eBay in Ohio in 2009 (see more pics here):

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This one was for sale in Baker City, Oregon, in 2010 for $400.

Here’s an orange one:topecka1

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From the CJ-3B Page.  There’s a second pic here with the windshield up.

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Here’s a fancy one from the Antique Tractors Page

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  1. Farm Collector Magazine
  2. My Tractor Forum
  3. Lesser known tractors
  4. CJ-3B Page
  5. Here’s a tractor called a Topeka, but looks different
  6. 1960 article about Topeka Mower
  7. Partial article from 1959
 
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1953 Topeka Hiway Mower **SOLD**

• CATEGORIES: Machinery, Unusual • TAGS: , .

UPDATE: **SOLD** Was on eBay.

“RARE WILLYS TOPEKA MODEL. ASSEMBLED IN TOPEKA KANSAS. ALL HYDRAULIC WITH POWER STEERING. HAS A CONTINENTAL FOUR CYLINDER INDUSTRIAL ENGINE WITH ABOUT 1100 HUNDRED HOURS. FOUR WHEEL DRIVE, TWO WHEEL DRIVE, HIGH LOW RANGE, FOUR WHEEL IN AND OUT AND HAND THROTTLE FOR THE REAR HYDROLICS SUCH AS LOG SPLITTER, DISC ETC.  FOUR WAY PLOW, HEATER, WITH DEFROST AND REMOVEABLE CAB. GREAT FOR THE SUMMER ALSO. A SICKLE BAR OR ROTARY MOWER CAN BE ADDED ON THE RIGHT SIDE. HAS REAR HYDRAULIC REMOTES FOR ATTACHMENTS. TITLE NOT NEEDED AS ITS CONSIDERED AS A MOWER OR YOU COULD GET ONE AS IT HAS ALL THE STREET LEGAL ITEMS. NEW TIRES AND RUNS AND DRIVES GREAT.”

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View more pics

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1947 Empire Tractor Eagleville, TN **SOLD**

• CATEGORIES: Unusual • TAGS: .

UPDATE: **SOLD** Was on eBay. See this same tractor here: View Post

I have only seen two of these for sale (here’s the other one).  These use the Willys drive train. You can learn more about the specs for these tractors here.

“For sale is a 1947 Empire Tractor S/N # 5582. This tractor has been fully restored and has brand new tires and a new battery! Check out www.empiretractor.net for more information relating to the history and specifications of this model.”

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Unsual Tandem Tranny Tractor

• CATEGORIES: Machinery, Unusual • TAGS: .

tandem_transmission_tractor_chicagoBrian forwarded this to me.  Here’s an odd tractor with Willys running gear and 2 inline trannys.

“FOUR WHEEL DRIVE ALL TERRAIN ROCK CLIMBING MACHINE 18 HP WISCONSIN WILLYS JEEP RUNNING GEAR TANDEM TRANSMISSIONS WITH A HIGH AND LOW TRANSFER CASE HAS BEEN SITTING AROUND FOR A FEW YEARS HAVE NOT REALLY USED IT. COME TAKE A LOOK. $1200.00 EMAIL ME WITH YOUR PHONE NUMBER AND I WILL CALL YOU BACK I DO NOT RESPOND TO EMAILS WITHOUT A PHONE NUMBER. ”

Brian also included an interesting discussion about dual trannys from the WillysTech board.

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1947 Empire Tractor (uses Willys drive train) Drexel, Mo $3500

• CATEGORIES: CJ-2A, Features, Machinery, MB, Unusual • TAGS: , .

1947_empiretractor_drexelWell here’s something I didn’t know, submitted by a reader.  Empire Tractors were built from parts that are also used by Willys, such as the transfercase (spicer 18), transmission (t-90), differential (spicer 25) and more.  You can learn more about the specs for these tractors here.  Note that the seller claims these were built out of surplus WWII jeeps, however the t-90 was a CJ-2A tranny, so it seems more likely to me that they shared parts with the CJ-2A rather than built from the MB.

“HERE WE HAVE A RARE 1947 EMPIRE TRACTOR. MODEL 88-90 MADE IN 11-47 SERAIL NUMBER 6352 IT WAS RESTORED ABOUT 10 YEARS AGO AND HAS BEEN KEPT INSIDE ALL IT’S LIFE. THIS HAS WILLYS JEEP ENGINE AND TRANS,AND ALOT OF OTHER JEEP PARTS IN IT,THAT ARE ORGINAL TO THE TRACTOR. THESE TRACTORS WERE BUILT AFTER WWII OUT OF SURPLUS ARMY JEEPS. THE PAINT SHOWS SOME WEAR . THE TIRES ON BACK ARE ORGINAL AND FRONTS HAVE BEEN REPALCED. COMES WITH ORGINAL LIGHTS AND GENERATOR IN A BOX. IT HAS HAD ONLY 3 OWNERS AND RUNS AND DRIVES LIKE IT SHOULD, READY TO USE OR SHOW. THIS COMES WITH A BELLY SICKLE MOWER,THAT HAS NOT BEEN USED IN 20 YEARS. 3500 FIRM. MY NUMBER IS 660-267-3282 THANKS FOR LOOKING”

http://www.empiretractor.net/spec.html