The Shelby Museum Of History
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The Shelby Tractor
In 1918 the world of farming was about to undergo a major transformation and the community of Shelby was to become a participant in this change. W. R. Kerr and Henry Wentz were about to launch a new company that would address this emerging market. It was named The Shelby Tractor & Truck Company. Details
of this Shelby Company can be found at another location, however one of their
products, the Shelby Tractor , will be the topic of this article.
There were several models produced over the years including a Model C 9 - 18 HP,
a Model D 12 - 25 HP, and a Model D 15 - 30 HP. The Model C could pull a two
bottom plow, whereas the Model D could pull three plows.
Shelby Museum Post Card
It is not known how many tractors were built during the 5 years (1918 - 1922) that the company was in existence, but it is thought that only one or two of the tractors survive to this day.
In 1920, a Model D 12 - 25 HP serial number 158 was built in the Shelby factory. Over 50 years later it was found and purchased by Mr. Fred McCance of Lyons, Ohio.
Photo courtesy of Fred McCance
The Shelby as Fred & Mildred found it.
After locating the Shelby Tractor on the farm of Stanley Whitman who lived near Blissfield, Michigan, Fred begin the years long negotiation of buying the Shelby. Stanley Whitman years earlier had purchased the Shelby that Fred McCance eventually bought as well as a second Shelby that he had used for parts. Stanley used the Shelby tractor to run a sawmill as well as a community grain separator. Fred made Stanley several offers to buy his Shelby and each time Stanley merely indicated that he "would think about it". In 1972, after many such attempts he was finally told that " the Shelby had been sold". Fred was soon to find out that it had been sold to his wife, Mildred, for Fred's birthday present; she had been nearly as interested in the purchase of the Shelby as he had.
Photo courtesy of Fred McCance

"My wife Mildred really looked the tractor over good. "
Photo courtesy of Fred McCance

"She thought it would be a good tractor for the kids to ride on in a parade."
Mildred had purchased the tractor as a surprise for her husband. An
additional part of the surprise was that the Shelby was to be kept with
the 28 - 48 Red River Special grain separator that Stanley had run for
years, as a condition of the sale. So the McCance family became the
owners of two "new" additions to their now growing restoration hobby.
Photo courtesy of Fred McCance

The Shelby with the 28 - 48 Red River Special grain separator attached.
Now the restoration began. It was to last for a period of about 20 years from the time
that Fred purchased the Shelby in 1972 until it was fully restored with the side curtains in place and painted with the Shelby logo found on the serial number plate (below).

Photo courtesy of Fred McCance

The Shelby stripped down - beginning it's restoration.
Photo courtesy of Fred McCance

Under restoration with a Zinc Chromate Primer

Fred had received advice from Stanley Whitman about trying to start
the Shelby for the first time in many years. He instructed the new
owner to "change the oil, install new hoses, put in clean water, pull
the spark plugs and ground the magneto wires. Then belt it to
another tractor and let it spin the Shelby at idle speed for about
1/2 hour. Reinstall the plugs, choke the engine, crank it twice and
the engine will start on the third crank." It did !!
Photo courtesy of Fred McCance

After full restoration -
Art Seaman and Fred McCance preparing to lead a parade in Ashland, Ohio
driving the only known operating Shelby Tractor in the world !

The following is a series of photos taken two years ago when Fred
brought his Shelby to our Shelby's "Bicycle Days".


Since the above was written, there has been a new development in the story
of the Shelby Tractor. The nameplate for the second tractor that Stanley
Whitman had purchased for parts has been located, as well as many parts
from that second Shelby Tractor. Fred McCance has sent a scan of the
nameplate from that second Shelby Tractor (below). More details may follow.
Now we know that there are two existing Shelby Tractor nameplates, the one
shown above, as well as the one that was attached to Fred's Shelby. There
may be a third nameplate associated with parts of a Shelby Tractor found
in Pennsylvania and brought to Shelby Bicycle Days in July, 2000.
Thank you to Fred McCance and his wife Mildred for supplying pictures and information for this article.

If you have questions or if you would like more information, please contact :
The Shelby Museum of History
23 East Main Street
Shelby, Ohio 44875
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