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Full Power All the Time!
First in the Field with NEW and REVOLUTIONARY “Live” Power Take-Off


By Collections Curator Ruth Bitner
December 2007



Cockshutt sales brochure, WDM George Shepherd Library

Cockshutt Plow Company began in the late 1870s at Brantford, Ontario. During the early 20th century, the company was best known for its plows. Many a prairie farmer broke his quarter section with a Cockshutt plow.

Cockshutt got into the tractor business in the mid-1920s selling models made by others. During the early years of the Second World War, Cockshutt investigated new arrangements with several companies, including Ford, Minneapolis-Moline and J.I. Case, however none was interested in a deal for dual distribution or private labelling.1 No agreement was possible either with these companies or with Oliver with whom it had had previous arrangements. So Cockshutt decided to go it alone with a new tractor of its own design.

Cockshutt shopped around for component parts, testing products made by well-known builders. It eventually settled on a Buda-made engine and a Wisconsin transmission. As William Cockshutt remarked in his book, “You don’t just walk in, take a transmission off the shelf, bolt it to your engine and go to the field.”2 Endless calculations and testing were carried out to ensure a successful match between engine and transmission.

The concept of a “power take-off which would continue running when the forward motion of the tractor stopped”3 was put forward by the designers. Live power take-off “... picks off power from the flywheel instead of going through the ground drive clutch and its driven shafts”4 making it independent from the tractor transmission. This means that as long as the tractor engine is running and the separate clutch engaged, there is power for the implement being operated. Older style power take-offs generally provided power only when the tractor was moving forward.

The people at Wisconsin took up the idea, and together with Cockshutt engineers, built the first tractor equipped with live power take-off. Five prototype tractors were built and subjected to rigorous testing–one of them was tested in Saskatchewan.

Cockshutt also challenged its designers to come up with a modern, new look for its first tractor, a look that could be carried through to other tractors in the series that was planned to follow. The distinctive styling of its “round nose” or the “smooth-styled” design was the result.

Production began late in1946 with testing at the Nebraska laboratory in the spring of 1947. The Cockshutt 30 was the first Canadian-built tractor to be tested there.5 The new live power take-off took the industry by storm. Other companies scrambled to copy this revolutionary feature and before along, nearly all tractor manufacturers offered some type of live power take-off.

The Cockshutt 30 sold for about $1750 US in 1947.

The Western Development Museum collection boasts a 1948 Cockshutt 30. The Braun brothers–Cornelius, John and Chris of Drake, Saskatchewan–bought it second-hand in 1959. It was restored by Western Development Museum staff for the new Winning the Prairie Gamble exhibit in the Saskatoon WDM. The Cockshutt 30 is featured in the 1950s section.

End Notes:

1. Cockshutt, William H.; About Cockshutt, Driveline Publishing, Yellow Springs, OH, 2004
2. Ibid, p. 96
3. Ibid p. 96
4. Cockshutt, Live Power Take-Off, Full Power all the Time, (WDM George Shepherd Library, Cockshutt, XI.19)
5. Ibid p. 97




WDM's Cockshutt 30 tractor, Saskatoon
WDM Photo


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