Jabez Love by Daryl Dempsey

Jabez Arthur Love was born November 29, 1909, in Seattle, Washington to Jabez Sylvester Love, a machinist, and Nellie Matthews Love, a housewife. 

 The Love family moved to Benton Harbor in 1916. Jabez Senior worked for the Ross Carrier Company and became General Superintendent by 1921. 

In 1933, the young 23-year-old Jabez A Love began building and selling Tructors. 

I’m 1937, he began to produce Love tractors with the styled front grille through 1939.  

In the Fall of 1939, Love moved his operation from Benton Harbor, Michigan to Eau Claire, Michigan. He moved into the old Godfrey Canning plant. The large 7400 square feet facility gave him more room to produce tractors as well as roller and belt conveyors, trailers, farm wagons, and special trailer spray rigs. 

Around 1940-41 he experimented with a totally different grille design which was more of a birdcage design similar to the round-nosed Silver Kings. 

In very early 1941, Love made an agreement with David Friday to let Friday build and produce the Improved Love Tractor. Some of these tractors had a cast sign on them that said Improved Love Tractor built by David Friday. 

Even though David Friday was building the Improved Love tractors, Love was still building tractors during the war years. Henry Wendzel bought a new Love tractor in 1942. It was unusual and had a flat grille and the frame stuck out in front to accommodate a forklift/loader. Henry’s grandson, Dave Wendzel, tells the story. 

“Henry Wendzel was my Grandfather.  He made the deal, the tractor was ordered with an extended frame in the front. With the intended plan to attach some kind of lift or loader to the front. That necessitated that the nose shell be bobbed short…the ugly flat nose. This tractor was also intended to replace a truck that could NOT be purchased due to war restrictions.  The draw bar was closer to the rear axle to accomodate the tongue weight of those 3 eighteen foot long trailers that were specifically balanced to carry 875 bushel crates.  The lead trailer had a handle over the tractor driver seat to engage by cable the linkage for mechanical brakes on all 3 trailers.  It worked…but not very well. Remember the sales lit , from the field to market at up to 60 mph. They did that   maybe 15-20 going down hill and 18-25 coming back. But it was better than the truck you didnt have. That extended frame also added 40-50 lb ballast and a place to add more to keep the front end on the ground. A lot of lbs on that little Fordson axle. Still have the flat nose grille and the tail (3rd) trailer. All 1942 war babys.  A man named Hartlerode from Eau Claire  built the trailers and did the load balancing, as the axles were located differently on each one. The fender housings were the exact dimension of three crates on each side. And the length accommodated the same amount of crates and was a perfectly rectangular load of 300 crates with no extra space. The 3rd trailer was a bit narrower and only fit 275 bushel.   My Dad drove this rig back from E.C. and he said the gearing was excellent with a four speed tranny with the Hi-Lo box behind.  They did a lot of field work immediately. And on day four something failed in the differential. Mr Love was not pleased to have to have been made to fix it. Fix it he did, with some axle that did not have the proper gear ratio and just hung the wheels on any old way and it barely would fit thru an eight foot door. I think Jabez was a bit miffed because by this time he had figured out that the extra long frame rendered the next tractor too short and the beam was unusable, and Mr Wendzel wasn’t gonna pay for the whole wasted piece.

 This axle repair went thru the war and lasted till 1954. That was the year of the breakup of Henry Wendzel & Son. That year also brought the 54 Love with the 3pt hitch and fluid drive, the 54 Friday, and the old 42 Love  was treated to a “new type” Timken front axle and Timken 2 speed rear axle, just like a regular Friday O48. The 42 had 26 inch wheels in the begining. They were still on there in 76 when I started using it to pull the sprayer. My mph only allowed 950-1100 RPM, and the Chrysler lugged most of the time or stalled in the tough spots. Later when the Arnold Brenner parts chassis arrived, I liberated the FTC  24 inch wheels and tires an RPM increased to 1350 -1475, a bit closer to the torque curve of the IND 5. The serial #s on the 42 were destroyed when the 300 Ford was installed in 94. One of the last 6 cyl industrial engines they produced. But the numbers were stamped in the I beam on the outside located under the bolted on plate that held the Chrysler bell housing. The Ford housing comes in the same place at different angle.  Like a typical D.U.M. farmer didnt record the letters and numbers. I cant  even remember which side they were on, but they were there.  Mr Love told his man to drive that tractor around the building, then it would be considered used, and not need a war priority to purchase.  The trailers were the same way, you could buy and sell used stuff, but new you needed permission from the war ration board. No one asked what these things were used for!”

It was during the war that steel was hard to get and the story has been told that one of Love’s employees was in Chicago looking for steel when he saw a steel bridge being torn down and was able to acquire 24” steel I-Beams. Love began using the I-Beams by laying them on their side and making the tractor frame out of them. He cut out a hole for the engine, transmission and rear end. These models were known as I-Beam Loves. 

In 1947, Love once again sold all of his tractor parts to David Friday. Friday dropped the Love name and began calling his tractors Friday Orchard Tractors. He also advertised he had a large stock of Love Tractor parts to sell. Some of the early 1947 Fridays had the I-Beam frame, probably using up some of Love’s stock and possibly some partially built tractors. 

Around 1949, Love once again began building another tractor. This time, it wasn’t an orchard tractor, but a four wheeled row crop tractor with adjustable front axle and rear wheels. The operator sat up high above the rear axle and the tractor had PTO and three point hitch. It is unknown how many were built, but they did not sell very well. 

Love built orchard tractors up until the late 1950’s and some of these were sold as kit tractors if the buyer wanted to buy the components and build the tractor themselves. 

Love sold and quit the business in 1960.