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Antique Steel Wheel Tractors - Old Iron Lugs and Cleats Photos and information about antique steel wheeled farm tractors. This is where to find the heaviest of Old Iron tractors.

Antique Steel Wheel Tractors - Old Iron Lugs and Cleats

Letter From Son of Eagle Founder


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Old 01-08-2014, 06:33:29 PM
Big 4-20 Big 4-20 is offline
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Default Letter From Son of Eagle Founder

Since I was snowed in for a few days, I spent a bit of time sorting through my literature. In that I found a copy of a letter given to me by Bill Rees. Bill and his Dad were early tractor collectors, starting their collection in the 50's. Bill's Dad was the founder of the Rees Plow Match near Franklin, IL. Most major tractor companies sent tractors and plows to compete in the contest. from the late teens to right before WWII. It drew thousands of people.

So, I sure liked visiting with Bill, who would now be nearly 100 years old I think if he were still with us? He sold me my Big 4 many years ago. He was a real historian. In the 80's he was in correspondence with one of the sons of Eagle Mfg. There were several letters that went back and forth, most tractor specifications, etc. The one I have pasted in below though is a real, first hand account, family history of Eagle. Not a lot of meat there, but I thought it was really neat to read it first hand. Thought you might too! Here it is...


Mr. Wm. Rees April 18, 1984
Evergreen Farms
Franklin, Illinois 62638
Dear Mr. Rees:
I have your inquiry of April 10, for information about the Eagle Model 6B tractor. My contacts with the Eagle Mfg Co and my experience with their tractors all occurred before yours was built. However, I have a cousin who worked for Eagle Mfg Co in their office after I left. I was told that he has a good collection of pictures & Eagle literature and I am sure he would be glad to help you.
Since you are writing an article about the “Eagles” perhaps a bit of early history about the company may or may not be of interest. The Company was formed when three Saiberlick brothers moved in from the family farm about 12 miles from Appleton. They were Ed, Oscar and Frank. Ed, who was the oldest, came first and bought an interest in a small shop in 1889. Oscar & Frank joined Ed in 1893. They first made hay tools--harpoon-type hay forks, carriers and grapple forks. Soon they also made feed grinders, feed cutters and small engines. Then larger 1-2 and 4 cylinder gasoline engines. The 2 cylinder engines of 20 H.P. and 30 H.P. soon became very popular for belt work because of their lighter weight and smooth power compared to one cylinder engines. The Co. also built silo fillers of several sizes.
In 1904 Eagle Mfg Co built a new plant here which covered almost a city block. It included a foundry for iron castings as well as a machine shop assembly space and a warehouse. Soon after that they started building two sizes of tractors using their own successful 2 cylinder horizontal engines. Enclosed is a reprint from a 1921 Farm Implement News Tractor Field Book with specifications of them. These were good dependable tractors for that period of time. They would not be beaten for belt work and they handled well too for plowing. As a boy, my father Frank wanted me to learn all phases of the business. So I worked in the machine shop, assembly floor, engine testing room and finally service work and demonstrating. I especially enjoyed driving the 12-20 Eagle while plowing at the National Tractor Show near Fremont, Nebraska in August of 1916. I was 19 years old then. There were about 100 makes of tractors there with many different designs. People said tractor sales will be great for many years. So the Saiberlick brothers decided to sell stock in the Co. and enlarge their plant. They lost controlling interest and disagreed with the new management. So in 1918, Frank & Oscar sold their interests in Eagle Mfg Co. and left with their families. My father, Frank, had another son, Erwin, who became a good engineer and me (Raymond) my father was President of the Co. for many years. Oscar had a son Wilmer and a son-in-law who also worked there. The older brother Ed Saiberlick, stayed with Eagle. His son, Winston, joined the Company later. That is why I believe he has more information than I do about your tractor which was perhaps built about 1936. I don’t know when the 12-20 & 16-30 were discontinued.
I hope this letter will be of some use to you. If I can help you further please write again.

With best Wishes for your Success



Ray Saiberlick
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Old 01-09-2014, 11:16:21 PM
G Willikers G Willikers is offline
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Default Re: Letter From Son of Eagle Founder

Big4-20,
This post brings back some very nice memories.
Back in the late 1980s, I was researching the history of Eagle Manufacturing. Through a collector in Wisconsin, a Mr. Wanie, I was put in touch with members of the Saiberlich family, including Raymond. I still have his letters. In one, he gave me a fairly concise history of Eagle as he knew in it. At the end, he signed his name and in brackets had "(I am 89 yrs old)"! This was April, 1987.
Probably we chatted on the phone, I can't remember now but certainly corresponded. I never did get to meet him. He would send me original material such as silo filler folders and always wrote on them with pen, you can keep this!
On a trip over that way, I did visit with Winston Saiberlich who would have been maybe a first cousin to Raymond. He was kind and hospitable as I visited him at home, in Fond du Lac, if memory serves. He had also worked with the company.
While both men were proud of their family's association with Eagle, Winston had a wee bit of bitterness over the family losing control of the company. He had no good words to say about the individual he thought perpetrated all that, whose name I will leave out of this! He also talked about the ill-fated deal to build harvesters for Dearborn that pretty much finished the compnay.
Winston gave me literature for the Fox tractor which was an Eagle copy built by Frank and Oscar Saiberlich after they left Eagle. Fox became famous for forage equipment.
Another chap I corresponded with was Melvyn Huffman who worked for Eagle for many years. That was a real pleasure reading and listening to his memories.
In the late 80s, there was still some of the old Eagle plant in existance. I also visited Clintonville and talked with people at FWD-Seagrave as they took over some of Eagle's business. Also visited Utility Tool & Body who also continued some of Eagle's lines. They were still using the Eagle brand name and a variation of their old logo at that time and let me copy some original literature.
Hard to believed that was 25 years ago now!
The Eagle history was a lot of fun and I met so many people, many of whom are here on Smokstak. The last contact I had with anyone from the Saiberlich family was Raymond's sister. Her name escapes me now and I can't come across her letter. But she had written to tell me that Raymond had passed away. That was so very kind and thoughtful of her to do that.
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