Text Box: Tractor Plows

The first plows truly meant for tractors Rock Island produced were in fact massive prairie busting gang plows in 5, 6, 8 and 10 bottoms. In the 1913 Rock Island Plow Company Catalog, these gang plows were the only tractor plows offered. It wasn’t until the next catalog when RIPC acquired distributorship of the Heider line that they introduced riderless plows meant entirely for use behind a tractor.  These plows were offered in a few different configurations, with the popular CTX system as a major selling point.

Rock Island Tractor Plows

No. 12 Tractor Gang Plow for busting the prairie in 5 6 8 and 10 bottoms. With the demise of the early large prairie tractors and the push for smaller, more affordable tractors, the No.12 Gang was replaced with smaller, more modern versions. Patent #1192197 was filed in 1912 for Rock Islands Engine Gang Plow, though there is indication it may have appeared earlier. By 1918 it had disappeared out of the large catalog.

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Rock Island was soon to offer new variants of their older gang plows for use behind a tractor. The No. 12 Gang plow was replaced by the No. 12 tractor plow in a 2,3, or 4 bottom version and the lighter No. 7 2 and 3 bottom version. Both designs were a chain driven lift plow and would feature the CTX system. These would be the primary tractor plow for Rock Island from the mid teens through the late 20’s.

The Heider Powerlift was one of the first designs to do away with a lift on the plow and utilize a tractors mechanical advantage, a forerunner to the later 3 point hitch of Ferguson. Utilizing the No. 9 2-bottom for the Heider D and the No. 19 3-bottom for the Heider C and 15-27, the Powerlift used a mechanical clutch system on the rear axle to raise and lower the plow. The Heider D section has some pictures of the actual powerlift on a Heider D.


The mechanical Plow lift may have been in development as early as 1912 by Henry Heider and was patented  in 1917 (patent US1373613 ).  Farm Collector magazine ran an article in July 97 on the plow lift. Between 1919 and 1928 it was a common option for the Heider’s.


The lift functioned off of the rear axle, pressing the foot lever engaged a gear on the axle. Once engaged the pedal was released and the gear would turn for approximately 1/3 the rotation of the axle before automatically releasing, raising the plow attached to a lever and chain. Pressing the pedal again released the lift and dropped the plow. Two additional levers adjusted drawbar height and angle. 

The last generation was the 2 and 3 bottom 20A and the 3 and 4 bottom 21A utilizing the CTX system. These were a conventional style of plow, and did away with the chain lift mechanism.  The Model 22A 2 bottom plow was briefly introduced in 1935 to go with the new No.1 tractor  but was probably not produced in any quantity. Click HERE for the ~1930 catalog for the 20A and 21A.

Left: plow lift raised                               Right: Plow lift lowered

Below left: Heider C with plow and lift at Mt Pleasant (Courtesy of Stubert)   

Model No. 9 and No. 19 Heider Power Lift

Right: Images from the ~1930 Plow catalog for the 20A and 21A.

Below: PFD of catalog

Left: 1935 No. 22a brochure



Bottom: Long foldout brochure for  the No. 20a and No.21a

Above: restored No.20A and Heider C owned by collector Kenny Bush near Rock Island.

No. 12 Engine Gang Plow

No. 7 and No. 12 Tractor Plows

No. 20A, 21A and 22A