Welcome to the Ottawa Mule Home Page.
This site is dedicated to the preservation of the Ottawa Manufacturing Co.
Credit to Geoff Hanson for creating the old Ottawa Mule site.
We have found some of the old website.
The Ottawa Manufacturing Co. (as it was known when the Mule Team was produced) was also known under the names: Union Foundries, Warner Manufacturing and Warner Fence. They had been in business since July 1904 in Ottawa, Kansas and were already very well known for their hit & miss, gasoline & kerosene flywheel engines and log saws as well as windmills, fencing, gas station pumps & lifts, refrigeration units, brake shoes, brush saws, tractor mounted saw rigs, etc. etc. They made a lot of things!
After the War, flywheel gas engine sales had basically ended and Ottawa was looking to stay successful in farm equipment once again. They continued to offer saws and brush cutters powered now by smaller, lighter Wisconsin engines including the Ottawa Buzzmaster. Like many companies in the late 40's and 50's they were looking to get in on the demand for small tractors used for "truck farming" and Victory Gardens.
It all starts with the Jaques (pronounced ja-kwez) Mighty Mite
The Jaques Mighty Mite from my research had been built since at least 1947 although some believe it was around in the 1930's. The Model 10 Mighty Mite was usually a Briggs and Stratton model ZZ. Jaques had several other models including an 8.5 HP Wisconsin AEN, and 2 cylinder Wisconsin's. The hood was all steel, and totally different from the later Frazer and Ottawa's.
The Mighty Mite also didn't have the high/low that the Frazer's had and used a Borg Warner T-96, 3 speed transmission. I have heard of some Mighty Mites with early Kohler, Hercules or Crosley engines and Crosley transmissions but I've never seen any proof that these were factory installed items. It’s unclear exactly how long the Mighty Mite was in production but I would guess 1946 -1948 only. The Mighty Mite appears to have been sold before the Frazer Model T, during the Frazer production and after the Frazer production stopped until Jaques sold everything to Ottawa in 1949 to focus on augers and underground utility boring machines.
Jaques is actually still in business in Texas but under a different name, with different owners and have no real links to their past.
Out of the three companies who sold this tractor, the Jaques Mighty Mite seems to be the easiest to find. I have serial number ranges that span over 3000 tractors.
The Frazer Model T experiment
In 1948 Frazer Farm Equipment (a division of the Graham-Paige-Frazer automobile company) decided to build a small farm tractor that was to be named the “Model T” because it was expected to be the agricultural equivalent to the Model T Ford.
The Jaques Power Saw Company from Denison Texas, who had built a pretty successful tractor themselves called the Jaques Mighty Mite would supply the tractor for Frazer. Jaques previously had built a saw attachment for the now famous, big, yellow Frazer B-1-6 rototillers and would now manufacture the Mighty Mite tractor chassis, then ship them to Frazer in Troy, Pennsylvania where the hood (if ordered) transmission and engine would be installed and final assembly would take place. The engine used was a Simar (Swiss designed) 2 cycle engine. The same engine was also being used in the Graham-Paige B1-6 and B-1-7 rototillers. I've also heard of a Frazer built engine. The Jaques-Frazer Model T used a 3 speed transmission with a high/low (giving it six speeds), weighed just over 1000#, and was available in 1948 only.
The tractor used an aluminum hood which was built from the bottom of the wing fuel tanks on WWII surplus fighter planes. The Model T tractors are very hard to find, it’s safe to assume not a whole lot were made. I have serial numbers that span around 300 tractors.
Frazer sold the Model T in their auto dealerships just like they did the Rototiller but because the tractor wasn’t nearly as successful as planned, major changes were in store. By the end of 1948 the Model T was no longer available. Early in 1949 Graham Paige Motors Corporation decided to sell off the Frazer Farm Equipment division to the Mast-Foos Corporation who decided not to sell the Model T tractor.
Ottawa takes over...
In 1949 the Ottawa Manufacturing Co. from Ottawa Kansas must have made Jaques an offer they couldn't refuse and purchased interests in the tractor from Jaques Power Saw, as well as all old parts, toolings, unsold inventory, etc. Ottawa continued to build several of their own versions of the Ottawa Mule Team tractor which almost mirrored the Mighty Mite with a few changes.
These included the Model 15 with a 8 HP Briggs Model 23 engine (the Model 23 replaced the ZZ at Briggs in 1949), Model 15A powered with a 8 ½ HP AEN or AENS Wisconsin engine (the AENS replaced the AEN when stellite exhaust valves were added), Model 16 with 2 cylinder 11 HP Wisconsin Model TE engine, and the Model 17 with a 2 cylinder 13 HP Wisconsin Model TF engine. The Model 17 differed from the others with 24" spoked rear wheels compared to 16" stamped steel wheels on the other 3 models. The models 16 & 17 also didn't have the rear "dashboard" part of the hood to accomodate the larger engine.
It’s also interesting to note that the Ottawa Manufacturing Co. went to using the “rounded front hoods” as was offered on the Frazer Model T. Ottawa produced these hoods in both steel and aluminum although I doubt the choice of material was an option. A few of the Ottawa Mule Teams even had the steel "Mighty Mite" hoods. I assume they used whatever parts they had available at the time of production. The hood was actually a $16.95 option as the price list shows and I've found several that never had hoods from the factory.
Mr. E.L. Warner, the owner of Ottawa Manufacturing died of a heart attack in February of 1951 while on a business trip in California and sadly Eastern Kansas was devasted by a huge flood in July 1951 that put Ottawa Manufacturing out of business forever. Every warehouse, office building, spare part and unsold inventory went under 45 feet of muddy water as the Marais Des Cygnes River emptied into Ottawa and many other Kansas towns that month. Ottawa Manufacturing never re-opened and so far I haven't found what happened to all the records and unused parts inventory. They likely all went to the dump with the flood debris or were sold for scrap. Like many post-war tractors it only survived a 6 year run between 3 companies. Many of the original Ottawa Manufacturing buildings are still standing but have been vacant since the 1980's. I wish I had the cash to buy the buildings myself before they fall down from disrepair.
From my Ottawa Mule Team registry and comparing tractor serial numbers and production dates of original engines I'd guess around 250 Ottawa Mule Teams were built before The 1951 flood destroyed Ottawa Manufacturing.
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