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Historical society needs community's help for tractor project

• Sep 9, 2017 at 2:00 PM

GREENWICH — The Greenwich Ohio Area Historical Society needs $4,900 and is now soliciting donations to complete its Centaur Tractor Project. The Greenwich Area Historical Society needs your help.

The Greenwich Ohio Area Historical Society (GAHS) board of directors has authorized the purchase of a 1934 Centaur Model 2G sulky-type tractor for future display at the museum, and are seeking the community’s help. The Centaur factory that built Centaur tractors was located on North Kniffin St in Greenwich. That building now houses Central Plastics.

The restored Centaur tractor was found in New Jersey on the Internet by a GAHS member that offered to donate $500 to a Centaur tractor project if the GAHS Board of Directors decided to proceed with the purchase of the tractor. At the board meeting, a vote was taken to proceed and a total of $3,300 was pledged for the project at the meeting. In a telephone conversation with the New Jersey man that restored the tractor, the board found he was retired, was selling his farm and moving to Iowa to be near his son. He also offered to donate $1,000 to the project since the GAHS museum is in the town where the Centaur tractor factory was located. A GAHS member volunteered to go to New Jersey and bring the tractor to Greenwich and house it for a time. The Centaur tractor project was on.

Total cost of the project, including the purchase of the tractor and the cost of an out-building to properly house and display the tractor at the museum is $9,200. Total donations to date are $4,300, which leaves $4,900 to complete the project. 

Donations in any amount would be appreciated and can be sent to the Greenwich Area Historical Society, Bobbi Ronk, Treasurer, 6 Countryside Drive, Greenwich.

The GAHS is a nonprofit, tax-exempt, 501(c)3 organization. Your donation is tax-deductible, to the full extent of the law.

The Central Tractor Company was established in 1921 in Greenwich to build tractors for small farms. From 1921 to 1926, six models of the tractor (A, B, C, D, E & F) were produced.

A completely redesigned Model G was introduced in 1926, While keeping the sulky-type design, the changes included a 10-hp, two-cylinder LeRoi Model MR water-cooled engine; rack and pinion steering wheel system; and a new magneto and carburetor system.

The riding sulky on the Model G carried a variety of one row implements, including a plow, cultivator, disc, harrows, seeder, grape hoe and potato digger. The Centaur Model G was also popular for cultivating in the vineyards of France and Belgium in Europe.

In 1928, the company was renamed as the Centaur Tractor Corporation. The Model G underwent further refinements in 1929 to become the model 2G. This tractor was also known as the Centaur 6-12. Changes included a larger LeRoi engine that added 2 hp. Due to the greater horsepower, the gears, pins, chains, and drive wheels were strengthened. The Centaur promotional thrust for the 2G acclaimed the tractor as “not being better than other tractors, but as a replacement for the horse.” Marketing of the 2G focused on first-time tractor buyers with small farms.

The Centaur Tractor Corporation survived the depression of the 1930’s by fling a patent in 1934 for a new tractor design, the “Klear View” tractor or the Centaur Model KV. The KV provided a clear view directly under the steering wheel, allowing visibility of the ground being plowed or cultivated.

During World War II, the Greenwich plant manufactured gearboxes and elevation mechanisms for tank turrets and transmissions for military vehicles. During the war, tractor production was suspended.

After the war, because of debt, LeRoi Corporation of Milwaukee, Wis., the longtime supplier of engines for the Centaur tractors, took over the operation of the factory. In 1945, LeRoi developed the Centaur Tractair 125, which were mobile air compressors which were sold to the U.S. and Canadian military.

In September of 1954, the Centaur property and manufacturing facility in Greenwich was sold to Westinghouse Air Brake Company, and in January of 1963, Central Plastics purchased the facility.

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