Development of the BF Avery Model V

1948 Avery V (4V426)

On July 12, 1945, the B.F. Avery & Sons Company, Inc. announced that the firm would soon begin a broad scale modernization program which would prepare for the post-war era. Avery president Phil Noland said that by January 1, 1946 the company would begin production of a new model tractor that would plow, plant and cultivate one row at a time. Avery had big expectations as many farmers had found a one-row tractor adequate for their needs. The new one-row tractor would serve a market that the tractor industry had previously underrepresented—farms with less than 40 acres under cultivation. In 1946, about 58 percent or 3.3 million U.S. farms were in this category.

Avery’s new one-row tractor was given the model designation Model V. Over the years, what the “V” stood for has been the topic of much speculation among Avery collectors. Given the timing of its introduction just as World War II was ending , one popular theory is that the  “V” stood for victory.

At the time of its introduction, the Avery Model V was designed to meet not only the needs of the small farmer but to also serve as a second tractor on a larger farm. Historically, Avery’s target market for its implements had been in the Southern states so the new one-row Model V tractor was targeted to meet the needs of farmers in that region whose crops were principally corn, cotton and tobacco. The Model V was especially handy for the farmer whose crops generally consisted of a few acres but whose row crops, especially tobacco, required considerable cultivation to keep them free of weeds and grass. The small-scale southern farmer was among the last in America to replace his horse or mule with a tractor.

The new one-row Model V was 105 inches long with a 74-inch wheelbase, a 40-inch tread, an overall width of 51-inches and a cultivating clearance of 23 inches. It had a 9-foot turning radius and a shipping weight of a little more than 1,600 pounds. Its engine was a Hercules ZXB-3 with a 2-5/8 x 3-inch bore and stroke and a displacement of 65 cubic inches. It was rated at nine horsepower. It came equipped with an electric starter operating from a six-volt battery. Electrical components were from either Autolite or Delco. Its carburetor was the Tillotson YC-6A. Its transmission and rear axle was supplied by Clark Equipment Company.

The first production Model V models (less than 100) had cast-iron grills and are highly sought after by collectors. Some of the earliest models also had hand brakes. Initially, the tractor was only available with a manual or mechanical implement lift for its mounted implements. Later, a hydraulic-lifting mechanism was optionally available as was a combination power takeoff/belt pulley unit.

Initially, seven implements and different variations of these were especially designed for the Model V. These were a mounted moldboard plow with either a 14-inch or 16-inch moldboard or “bottoms”, as they are called. Each size moldboard came in three different variations: a standard, a Texas moldboard and a steel slat moldboard. Also offered were two different trailing disc plows–a one-way and a two-furrow model. A plowing lister was available, and a single-row planter. The most popular Model V implement was the mounted cultivator which had several different configurations of shovels and sweeps.

DHR_Photos_070413_100_1955Over the years of its manufacture, there were over 7,500 models of the Model V made at Avery’s South Seventh Street plant in Louisville. Only 138 of these tractors were made in 1946, its first year of production. For many years, Avery collectors thought that production of the Model V ended in 1952 with serial number “7V-271”. Other collectors have suggested that a few more tractors were manufactured by Minneapolis Moline after the merger until 1955 and that the very last one bore serial number “8V-121.”

In October of 1946, within a year of Avery’s introduction of the Model V, International Harvester Company (IHC) acquired a former wartime aircraft factory in Louisville.  IHC’s factory was only about five air miles away from Avery.  IHC introduced and began the production of the Farmall Cub, its own one-row tractor whose specifications and appearance was very similar to the Model V. More than 10,800 Cubs were produced in 1947, its first production year. About this time, most other farm tractor manufacturers also jumped into the market with their own single-row or small tractor models.

Notwithstanding Avery’s inability to compete with “the big boys,” Avery Model V tractors are highly prized by collectors. Those of us who proudly own and display these little one-row machines at tractor shows throughout the United States often hear stories from people admiring our restored tractors about “the neighbor who owned an Avery.

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By Luther D. “Dan” Thomas
Author of B.F. Avery & Sons Pioneer Plowmakers of America