More Bantam Plows and a deepening mystery

This summer we have been contacted by two individuals who were researching American Bantam tags on their plows. The first is a 16″ single bottom plow that has been in the same family since it was purchased. It is located in Virginia and is still being used to plow with a tractor.

The Bantam model is an “NSGP-16.” All Bantam plows we have seen used the same model number as used by Newgren. Newgren used a 5 or 6 character model code. The first two characters indicated the manufacturer and number of mouldboards. The codes we have seen are either “NS” meaning (we assume) “Newgren Single” bottom or “ND” meaning “Newgren Double” bottom. The next two characters indicate mouldboard types: GP – General Purpose, SB – Slat Base, or F-Forgy Base. The last characters are actually digits indicate the plow size – 12, 14, or 16 inch. So we know the above plow is a Newgren made single bottom 16″ plow with a general purpose base.

Our Bantam labled slat plow has the model number “NDGP-12″as expected. Our working assumption has been that Bantam simply took the current stock of Newgren plows and replaced the tag with the new Bantam tag, copying over the model and serial number. But something else may have been happening too.

The second plow is located in Ontario, Canada and is the first example of a 10″ plow – Newgren or Bantam – that we have seen. This one is also still in use behind a Ford 8n.

The “Type” or model is “NDSC10” and the serial number is 114. As stated, all examples of Bantam plows discovered thus far had used the same model designations as Newgren. We have never seen the “SC” code, nor have we seen any 10″ model plows in the Newgren literature we have collected.

Is it possible that Bantam produced a plow that was not in the Newgren line? The “SC” code and the lack of the “-” before the “10” would indicate that this was not a direct copy. Did they expand what had been the Newgren line with a new product? Did “SC” stand for a new type of base or was it an error (it appears to be a “GP” base)? This simply adds to the mystery surrounding the final years of American Bantam. Stay tuned.

New FAQ and Dave’s Story

An ongoing project here at Farm Jeep is spreading the word about these amazing machines. As we park our Farm Jeep at various antique farm, machinery and even Jeep shows, we try to provide a story about the vehicle and its place in agricultural history. We are adding a Frequently Asked Questions About the Farm Jeep section. It will be both a part of the information presented here and at shows in the form of printed materials. This will be an evolving document and hope to hear your feedback to make it better.

We asked Dave Eilers, founder of eWillys.com to tell his Jeep story. If you are an eWillys fan as we are, you will want to read about Dave and his adventures here.

Notes from the (hay) field

It is mid-summer and antique machinery shows are in full swing. We represented Jeeps in agricultural again this year at the Pioneer Engineers Club of Indiana Reunion held in Rushville, Indiana. Just like last year, there were 600 tractors of every make and model, along with 30 or so operating steam traction engines and 1 Farm Jeep.

This four day show is one of the oldest and largest in the Midwest and is located on a club owned farm. It features a daily parade that can last over an hour. There are all sorts of farming demonstrations. A favorite is plowing demonstration using the massive steam engines. The plowing demonstration can be viewed from a hilltop.

We enjoy engaging visitor, both to tell the Farm Jeep story and to hear stories, of which there are many. We use the ad below to illustrate Willys use of women in their marketing efforts. It also usually gets remarks about the corn crop.

Spring weather here in the Midwest was extremely wet and many crops simply did not get planted or were planted very late in the season. More than one farmer remarked that the corn in the ad reminded them of this year’s crop.

Full Head of Steam

Although this is a Jeep site, we love the beauty of the old steam engines. We took a couple of hundred shots of these machines in action. We will share a few from one of the daliy parades here.

This Reeves engine is based out of Columbus, IN home to Farm Jeep
There were all female crews too.
The parade passed in front of our display.
A beautiful machine.
With some local passengers….

The very old,,,

And the very young
Another Case (the featured steam engine) beauty

Seeing these machines is a treat for the eyes and ears (except for the noon time whistle blow that requires you to cover your ears), We strongly encourage you to visit you local antique machinery show, even if the don’t have any Jeeps. You won’t be disappointed.

A Farm Jeep in the West of Ireland

In 2007 we received a note from Seamus Lefroy-Brooks of Buckingham, England about his family’s farm Jeep and brochures from the British company that had sold the Jeep to his father. Somehow this story didn’t get moved from the old Web site and we had forgotten about it until our friend Dave at eWillys wrote asking if we still had the brochure.

Seamus’ story about the ex-British Forces 1942 Ford GPW’s arrival on the farm and his description of its uses as a tractor deserves to be told again. So we have moved the story and brochure. Be sure to check out the photos at the bottom of the story.

A Farm Jeep in the West of Ireland

Dave has published a series of articles on the Metamet company-

Metamet: British Jeep Rebuilders

Metamet and Garden Parties

Filip Rosz and Metamet

2 Great Jeep Shows + Movie Screenings

We started the 2019 show season by attending the Midwest Willys Reunion in Aurora, OH and the Willys Jeep Rally at Hueston Woods Lodge in College Corner, OH. These two shows are only 2 weeks apart and that can present logistical issues for many. But each has unique attributes that make it worth a weekend trip. If you can’t make them both, then alternate. You won’t be disappointed.

We were presenters at both shows this year, since we were screening our movie find. More on that later. This was our second time presenting at the Reunion. The first had been when the show was held in our home town of Columbus, IN and covered a brief history of the farm jeep. We filled in for a Saturday afternoon speaker who had to cancel at the last minute. That session was the beginning of the transformation of Farm Jeep to the new format were we emphasis more history and research.

This was our first time presenting at the Rally and it was an equally enjoyable experience. But it has been a special event for us because of the equipment demonstration put on by John Ittel and friends at the family farm. We are not aware of any place else one can see so many Farm Jeeps doing real work, right in front of you. It brings the Farm Jeep concept to life. This is a must see for every Jeep fan.

On with the show!

As we stated in the post about finding the movie “Revolution in Pleasentville” we wanted to show the movie as quickly as possible. Both the Reunion and Rally folks were happy to accommodate us. Each show has a unique character and this was reflected in the reaction to the movie.

Friday’s showing at the Reunion was informal in nature. We gave a very brief introduction mainly comprising of how we acquired the film. The small group gave the movie a round of applause when it finished. One of the first reactions was from the “lefty” crowd, who were amazed and pleased to see so many “lefty” models displayed.

CJ2a “Lefty” leaving the Willys plant with a Monroe Lift installed

The movie shows a number of Jeeps leaving a plant with the Monroe lift installed. All of these where the lift is visible in the rear are of the “lefty” variety (spare tire mounted on the driver’s side). Since these “lefty” Jeeps were from a very short production run in 1948, we can use this information to help identify when the film was shot. For more on the history of “lefty” Jeeps, see the CJ2a Page discussion here –
https://www.thecj2apage.com/forums/calling-all-leftys_topic16021.html

Another point of interest, that we observed in our first viewing, is that the leveling adjuster is installed on the right-hand side and the body of the lift is smooth, not embossed as were later models. This would again indicate very early examples of the lift.

Very early model Monroe lift

There were other comments related to the location of several scenes. The film will provide plenty of material for Jeep, Newgren and Monroe researches.

At the Rally, we were the keynote presenters, so we presented some history of the Monroe Auto Equipment Company to give some context for the movie. We followed the screening with a short review of what happened after 1949 and ended with a question session.

The movie again received a round of applause and there were many questions about our plans for the film. The presentation also produced a volunteer to help with data gathering on the Greenfield event. We look forward to reporting on these efforts in the near future.

A JPRT in Love country

Spring found us making a JPRT (Jeep Part Retrieval Trip) to southern Michigan. Barry had needed a front weight for an upcoming project and Bob V. had a spare. Bob was also located just 90 minutes or so north of Eau Claire, home of Jabez Love.

Jabez Love patented the first “Jeep Approved” hydraulic lift for the new civilian jeep. You can read the story here. After writing the article, Barry became more intrigued by Mr. Love and continues to search for more information about him. Specifically, Barry wants to know how Love ended up designing the lift for Willys.

The first time Barry had visited Eau Claire, he wasn’t prepared. He had a single copy of a Love Tractor ad to show people. This time he had a number of ads and business cards and made his first stop the Fruit Exchange.

The Eau Claire Fruit Exchange has its own history. A very young Jabez Love had designed his first tractor to serve the needs of local farmers heading to this place to sell their fruit. We are working with the fine folks at the Exchange and will be reporting about what we learn there in the near future.

We also left materials with the local historical society. Again we will be reporting more on this later. We are making great strides in learning about Love pre and post Willys, just not the critical question of how Love come to be the designer of the first lift.

In the mean time, back to the weight

We headed north to meet up with Bob. With the aid of one of Bob’s many antique tractors, we quickly loaded the weight and still had time for a look around. Barry told Bob about his Love research and Bob showed him his Love tractor awaiting restoration. In addition Bob has shared his Love literature.

From there we went into the workshop to see Bob’s Newgren lift that is undergoing refurbishment along with the rest of the Jeep. These JPRTs often result in more than an exchange of parts. We plan to stay in touch with Bob.

Pressure Relief for the Newgren Lift

Sometimes too much hydraulic pressure is worse than not enough. Too much pressure can be dangerous and can result in damage to the pump and other components. Modern hydraulic systems have built-in pressure relief valves, but 70+ years ago, Newgren designers omitted this safety feature. We have added a pressure relief valve to our lift and will explain how we did so in this post. However, we are not experts and present this as an example and not as a definitive answer to adding a pressure relief valve!

The Basics

Simple single acting cylinder system

In the diagram above, you can see the relief valve placed between the pump and the control valve. If pressure exceeds a set level, the relief valve opens and fluid flows straight to the reservoir. In the above system, relief valve and control valve share the same return line to the reservoir. In most modern systems, the relief valve and control valve are a single unit.

In the Newgren system, the control valve sits directly on top of the reservoir and doesn’t allow us to tap into the reservoir return line. So we need to modify the reservoir by installing another inlet or use the port relief inlet on the top of the Newgren tank.

Our solution

We have wanted to keep our Newgren lift as original as possible. But after damaging two pumps by excess pressure, we decided we would add a relief valve. On a side note, the excess pressure appears to be the result of a faulty control valve. We made a couple of attempts to replace the control valve with a modern style control, but these would have resulted in major modifications. So our solution was to insert the relief valve without modifying either the control valve or the reservoir.

The relief valve we used is the Prince Adjustable Relief Valve. It fits between the high pressure hose from the pump and the control valve inlet. A short piece of hose is used to connect the outlet (normal operation) to the inlet of the control valve.

The next task is to connect the relief valve excess pressure outlet to the reservoir tank. Not wanting to modify the tank, we choose to add a “T” to the cylinder relief port on the top of the tank. As can be seen above, we ran a hose from the inlet (located on the top of the tank on the driver’s side) to a “T” on the passenger side. To make all of this easier, we added an elbow to the “T”. One side of the “T” goes to the relief valve and the other side goes to the relief port on the bottom of the cylinder. Read on before taking this approach.

Is that last part really necessary?

The simple answer is no. A quick review of how a single action cylinder may be useful. In a single action system hydraulic fluid under high pressure is used to extend the cylinder and raise the implement and the weight of the implement retracts the cylinder to lower it.  A control valve is used to direct the fluid for the required action.  To raise the implement, the valve must direct the fluid to the upper (or top) chamber of the cylinder.  To maintain the position of the implement, the valve must shut off flow to the cylinder and dump the fluid being pumped under pressure into the reservoir.  To lower the implement, the valve must open the upper chamber and allow the fluid to empty into the reservoir. On the bottom of the cylinder, a relief port allows air to enter and exit the cylinder as it extended and retracted.

To keep dirt and dust out of the cylinder, Newgren used the space at the top of the reservoir as an “air tank” and attached a hose from the cylinder to the top of the reservoir. That hose could be left unhooked from the top of the reservoir. In that case, you would simply attach the outlet of the relief valve to the reservoir and eliminate the “T”. You should also add a small breather plug to the end of the hose or to cylinder port.

The things you learn

After writing this post it is clear that we over-engineered the solution. Unless you have excess fluid seeping past the cylinder seals, we would not include the “T”. In fact, linking the pressure relief valve and the cylinder port may result in damage to the cylinder. We would recommend trying a simple connection from the top of the reservoir to the relief valve. We will be making this change to our lift in the future.