Jabez Love – 1942-1946

The war years would find Jabez building tractors and implements – a least for a while. Suddenly he becomes an “engineering consultant” at Willys-Overland. In 1946 his hydraulic implement lift for the new civilian Jeep heralds the beginning of the Farm Jeep story.

We have found little information about Love’s activites for 1941 until 1944. Here is Paul Zoschke’s take.1

“Evidently Love did make more tractors in the early forties, but it seems likely that most were made to special request or when there was a fortunate availability of materials and components.  George Baumeister of Burr Oak, Michigan tells of meeting a fellow who worked for Love during the war years.  His job was to comb salvage yards for five-speed truck transmissions and two-speed heavy duty truck rear ends. That same fellow told of being sent to Chicago to bring back sections of 24 inch I-beam from a bridge that was being dismantled.  Love used the I-beam for the tractor chassis, turning the beam on its side and cutting holes for the engine, the transmission and the rear end.  Nevertheless, it appears that as wartime shortages developed, most of the material that did become available went into the lift discs.”


All tractor manufacturers where limited in the number of units they could produce.


Article from Apr 22, 1943 The Herald-Press (Saint Joseph, Michigan)


Article from May 18, 1944 The Herald-Press (Saint Joseph, Michigan)

The following ad is at least hints that Love is away from his tractor business.


Article from Oct 4, 1945 The Herald-Palladium (Benton Harbor, Michigan)

“We will use Mr. J. R. Love’s engineering skill and advice in all our manufacturing.” Note the “J. R. Love.” We will see Love’s middle initial change again.

Fire would be a factor again in the operation of the Eau Claire plant,


Article from Feb 27, 1945 The Herald-Palladium (Benton Harbor, Michigan)


Article from Jul 3, 1945 The Herald-Press (Saint Joseph, Michigan)

When did Love join Willys?

This is the unanswered question. It is an important question because of the timing of his arrival. If it was prior to June, 1944, then Love already had a relationship with Willys before Charles Sorensen became Willys’ president. Our working assumption has always been that Sorensen brought three men with him to Willys to work on the civilian Jeep. One man, Robert Green, was a Ford hydraulic engineer. The second was Sorensen’s 2000-acre farm manager George Newlin. We assumed that Love was the third. Love had experience with building a combination truck and tractor and with the Ford 9N tractor.

The only time Love’s name appears in the newspaper during the war years, other than in ads, is at the time of his father’s death in October 1944 and in the report of a hospital admission in October, 1943. The most important clue appeared on the social page of December 26, 1944 “Delores’ father, Jabez Love is now filling a responsible position with the Willy(s)-Overland Co. at Toledo was home with the family for the holiday.”

December,26-1944-Benton-Harbor-News-Palladium-p-5 – Love at home from Willys

While the search continues, we can at least say that Love was definitely employed at W-O in late 1944.

The introduction of the Love lift for the CJ2a

Pictures from September 1946

The announcement in September 1946 of a 3-point hitch for the Jeep came just 14 months after the introduction of the CJ2a. It marked the true beginning of the Farm Jeep era. It also appears to have ended Love’s association with Willys.


Article from Aug 22, 1946 The Herald-Press (Saint Joseph, Michigan)

The above newspaper article shows that Love had left Willys prior to the September debut. It states “J. B. Love, Eau Claire, inventor of the unit, who was formerly an agricultural engineer with Willys-Overland, and now head of the Love Tractor and Sprayer Co…” Note that Love is referred to as “J. B.” and an “agricultural engineer” rather than a consultant.


Article from Oct 19, 1946 Lancaster Eagle-Gazette (Lancaster, Ohio)

The above article appeared in October 1946 and it contains an interesting passage: “A new hydraulic lifting device which enables a farmer to raise and lower a plow or other implement attached to a Jeep by a single dashboard control is pictured here at a demonstration at Cesor Farms, New Hudson, Mich. Photo (1) shows Charles E, Sorensen, board vice-chairman, and Barney Roos, chief engineer of Willys-Overland Motors and creator of the Jeep, testing the invention.” (Italics added) For Charles Sorensen and Barney Roos to be headlining the event shows how important this lift was to Willys.

We again see Love referred to as “J. B.” – “The device was invented by J. B. Love, Eau Claire, Mich., an agricultural engineer…” Since the articles were press releases from Willys we are unsure if Love or Willys changed his middle initial from “A” or “R” to “B.”

Willys never produced any hydraulic lifts. They were produced by independent companies as an add-on product. Sorensen is reported to have asked George Newlin and Robert Green to form a new company to produce Love’s lift. The newly formed company purchased either the licensing rights or the patent rights (it is unclear which) and began distribution of the lift.

1946 brochure for the Love designed Newgren lift

We may never know why Love didn’t produce the lift for Willys. He would, as we will see in the next section, produce his own version of the lift and sell it into the 1950s. Perhaps Love couldn’t come to an agreement with Willys on terms. Or maybe Sorensen wanted more control over the final product, thus having his hand-picked team take over the lift. We do know that the new company would almost immediately make changes to the lift.

Love’s employment by Willys seems to have ended in 1946. He would be a supplier of implements, including his disc for the next several years. He will return to Eau Claire and his tractor (?) business.


Article from May 23, 1946 The Herald-Palladium (Benton Harbor, Michigan)

The is the second time that we have seen an announcement that David Friday is taking over the manufacturing of Love Tractors. We will explore this announcement more in the next section.

Clint Dixon in his article on Jabez Love and the Empire Tractor gives a very good description of what happened after Love left Willys –

“On August 2, 1946 J.B. applied for a patent on an Implement Hitch system of his own design for which which he would ultimately be granted a patent on July 12, 1948. This was a hydraulically operated three-point free-link system designed specifically for the new post-war Universal Jeep. It was similar in concept to the Ferguson System and allowed the new civilian Jeep to function as a tractor with three-point attached implements in tow. Willys-Overland Motors later acknowledged J.B. as the originator and inventor of the “Lift Hitch for Willys Jeeps.”

The Implement Hitch system that J.B. had only recently designed for the Jeep was quickly marketed by The Newgren Company of Toledo, Ohio. Newgren was a company, newly formed in August of 1946, which arose to supply farm implements for which Willys-Overland now found that it had a need. Newgren engineers soon changed the design of J.B.’s system slightly and marketed it under their own name; “Hydraulic Linkage System for the Jeep.” As an independent company, Newgren would be short lived.

On December 27, 1947, The Newgren Company was bought out by the Monroe Auto Equipment Company of Monroe, Michigan. Shortly, under Monroe management, the Newgren system was discontinued and replaced with a new hydraulic three-point system of Monroe’s design that would be granted a patent of its own a few years later. This change of events opened the door for J.B. Love.

J.B. quickly got to back work, significantly reengineered his original design in nearly every aspect, and was soon in the business of supplying hydraulic three-point systems to Jeep customers. He named his revised creation the “Love Hydraulic Lift-Hitch for Willys Jeep.” These new systems were in the hands of distributors and available for Jeep owners as early as October 11, 1948. Dealers of Jeep vehicles as well as Ford Tractor and/or Ferguson Tractor dealerships could place orders for the new Love Lift-Hitch directly from the distributor. J.B. never patented his new design. This fact, along with images in the new sales folder showing both old and new versions, suggests to this author that J.B. never sold his patent to Newgren, that he retained ownership, and that Newgren had only a licensing agreement with him.

J.B.’s Implement Hitch (and subsequent Love Hydraulic Lift-Hitch) that he developed for the Jeep, was not the first system of its type that he had designed or patented. He had earlier applied for a patent on a design that was ultimately granted in 1949. This version was not aimed at any particular make or model of tractor and was rather generic and much simpler than the Jeep version. J.B. produced hydraulic Three-Point Hitch Conversion Kits for various tractors from other manufactures that were not normally factory fitted with a hydraulic three-point system. These included: Allis-Chalmers, International, and John Deere. Most of the Love Tractor models that J.B. produced were available with some version of a hydraulic three-point hitch system. These differed vastly from one another and appear to have been specific to the particular model of Love Tractor that they were designed for.

Of particular interest to Empire Collectors is the introduction of a new model of tractor from Love in 1950 – the Love model J51. This tractor was a modified Empire 90, fitted with front sheet metal borrowed from existing Love designed tractors, and equipped with an optional rear Hydraulic Power Unit.”

From The Field Tractor Book 1951

Based on Clint’s research, it appears likely that Willys hired Love prior to Sorensen’s arrival. Sorensen, may have wanted his own people to have control of the lift. Whatever the case, the stage is set for the next phase of Jabez Love and the Love Tractor story..

Jabez Love – 1947-1950

  1. Paul Zoschke, “A Love Story,” Antique Power Magazine, S/eptember/October, 1997, page 41/ ↩︎