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Serving: IN
Le Roi Centaur tractor Tom J. Bechman
RARE FIND: Bill Hedrick, Tippecanoe County, Ind., and his son Jason recently added this unique Le Roi Centaur tractor to their collection.

Little-known tractor has unique history

Tractor Treasures: The Centaur tractor and Le Roi engine histories are intertwined.

Bill and Jason Hedrick’s tractor collection numbers 100 machines. A tractor Bill added within the last couple of years has a unique history.

“You don’t see a Centaur tractor every day,” he notes. “It’s officially called a Le Roi Centaur tractor.”

Here is its history, thanks largely to the Greenwich Ohio Area Historical Society. Check out pictures of earlier Centaur tractors at greenwichahs.org.

The Central Ohio Tractor Co. opened in Greenwich, Ohio, in 1919, according to most sources. By 1921, it was offering the Centaur tractor. Early models were geared for smaller operations with a sulky-type design so the farmer could attach implements.

The Model G produced first in 1926 featured a 10-hp, two-cylinder Le Roi engine. The company that made Le Roi engines dates to 1913 in Milwaukee, Wis. The company specialized in industrial engines, and produced engines that powered lots of farm tools, including Papec choppers, before PTO implements dominated agriculture.

The Central Ohio Tractor Co. became the Centaur Tractor Corp. in 1928, and it produced the 2G model, with a 12-hp Le Roi engine and the unusual sales slogan, “Not better than other tractors, but as a replacement for the horse.”

After surviving the Depression, the company filed a patent for the KV tractor in 1934, standing for “Klear View” of the ground under the steering wheel. During World War II, tractor production stopped, and the plant produced tank parts. Centaur was saddled by debt after the war, and Le Roi took over, adding its name to the tractor. Le Roi also produced the Tractair 125, a mobile air compressor for the military.

The Centaur property was sold in 1954, and the Le Roi engine name disappeared soon afterward.

Comments? Email tom.bechman@farmprogress.com.

TAGS: Tractors
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