Revised 8 April, 2009

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Bell Aircraft
Graham-Paige/Frazer Links

American Manufacturers

At the end of WWII manufacturing in America was at a fever pitch. We were coming out of a war that helped to end The Great Depression of the 30's and the start of the move to the suburbs and individual homes.

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Graham-Paige Motors and Frazer Farm Equipment Co.

Graham-Paige Motors Corporation of Detroit first agricultural adventure was the model 503 series Graham-Bradley tractor sold by Sears, Roebuck & Company. The tricycle model 503.103 was introduced in 1938 (Nebraska Tractor Test No.296) and the wide-front 503.104 in 1939. Production stopped in 1942 and was not resumed after WWII.

Graham-Paige Motors acquired the commercial line of Rototiller™ about 1944. In August 1944 Joseph W. Frazer joined Graham-Paige Motors and became its President

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Kaiser-Frazer Corporation was incorporated on August 9, 1945 in Nevada. And in February 1947 Graham-Paige stockholders sold out to Kaiser-Frazer Corp. In 1947 the Frazer Farm Equipment Division moved to York, Pennsylvania and stayed there until 1949. Graham-Paige Motor Corp dropped the word Motor from its name and moved to New York City.

Frazer Farm Equipment Division faced numerous business problems in 1948. The Kaiser-Frazer Automobile Dealers no longer sold the machines, so they lost their distribution network. The trademark Rototiller™ expired allowing other manufacturers to call their machines rototillers

Frazer reportedly built two proto-type tricycle gear tractor powered by a Continental gas engine, and two prototypes with diesel engines. Serial numbers are X-1 to X-4. A known single good copy of a full-size Frazer tri-cycle gear tractor, taken at Williow run in the Spring of 1946, exist.

Frazer Farm Equipment Division sold 50% of the company in 1949 to Mast-Foos Corporation (a power lawn mower company) and the name was changed to Frazer Farm Equipment Corp. and moved to Auburn, Indiana. In 1950 the rest of Frazer was sold to Mast-Foos.

In July 1945 this ad appeared in "Country Gentlemen" magazine. The sheet metal is the same as the first antique rototiller I acquired a B-1-3. The text below the drawing says "Graham-Paige to make ROTOTILLERS! Only in "Walking Models" at First; Larger tractor-Drawn types to Come!"

Graham-Paige Motors Corp. in 1945 licensed Graham-Paige, Farm Equipment Division, Willow Run, Mich. to manufacture a design based on the B-series still using the Rototiller trade mark.

Continuing the model numbering started by Rototiller of a new number each year. Except for the war years 1943-44.

This 1945 Graham-Paige ad shows a model B-1-4. Note this is a B-1-3 (see the slide controls on the handlebars) with the sheet metal and recoil starter found on the B-1-6.

I have not seen any reference to an B-1-5.

Graham-Paige B-1-6 s/n 20180
Restored By Chuck Zuck
Graham-Paige B-1-6 s/n 8234 on steel
Frazer Farm Equipment developed the latest version the B-1-7RS in 1947 B-1-7RS

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Larry Bell, Bell Aircraft, and the Rototiller
the following is excerpts from
"Larry, A Biography of Lawrence D. Bell" by Donald J. Norton, Nelson Hall, 1981.

In late 1945 "…in Vermont the Ordnance Division (later to be renamed the Burlington Division) became a bright spot for commercial production. With fewer than two thousand employees and headed by a veteran administrator, Julius J. Domonkos, Burlington won a large contract from Kaiser-Fraser's Graham-Paige Motors Corporation and went to work building 5-horsepower, two-cycle engines and transmissions for a new line of garden roto-tillers."

"The division attained a high volume of production and was making a good profit when Graham-Paige had to stop roto-tiller production because of a strike elsewhere. The Burlington contract was cancelled with about half of the original order for eighty thousand engines built."

How many engines and transmission actually delivered was not mention, but there was an inventory at Bell after Larry Bell and Joe Frazer settled on terms canceling the contract. Note in the book Frazer is spelled wrong. So what do you do with the excess inventory?

"Bell shut down the Burlington plant and brought its key people to Buffalo. Commercial business appealed to Bell, and he asked his staff to suggest applications for a small horsepower engine. Rather than subcontract, why not develop a complete product based on the company's capability to turn out inexpensive engines? A meeting was held in Bell's office to review the results of the survey. He was dissatisfied. "Lawnmowers, scooters, farm implements - these fields are too crowded," said Bell. "Hasn't anyone got a likely product?"

"There was silence as Bell looked around the room."

"Well," he said, "we're going to put a small engine on something, even if it's a wheelbarrow!"

The Bell Prime Mover motorized wheelbarrow was the final product.

All this seemed to have taken place between late 1945 to January 1947, no dates were actually given in the book.

In 1947 Frazer Farm Equipment Division moved to York, Pa. The 1948 City Directory of York listed the address as 6th Ave corner of Ogontz at Elm. The Officers listed were Jos W. Frazer President, O.B. Motter, Frank L. Hopkinson and C.F. Spencer Vice-Presidents, Alf E. Barton Vice-President Treasurer, Wm O. Rollinson Asst. Treasurer.

The model and Serial Number is on a data plate on the right side of the engine cowling. The engine Serial Number is stamped in the crankcase below the cowling. All engine Serial Numbers I've seen are B066-xxxxx . There are 4 models of the Graham-Paige/Frazer B-series, B-1-6, s/n's 1014 through 37013, B-1-6RS reverse gearbox installed at the factory, s/n's 50001 through 56000. The B-1-7 was equipped with "dual" purpose Wheel Hub Clutches, s/n's 60,001 through 92,000, B-1-7RS reverse gearbox installed at the factory, s/n's 101,000 through 111,000.

The exact dates and names used are based on my research and have not been confirmed by Frazer Farm Equipment. I'm looking for sales receipts with serial numbers to establish a year-manufactured list.

My unofficial dating chart is:
1st Name 2nd Name City Year
Graham-Paige Motors   Willow Run  1945-1946
Graham-Paige Motors Farm Equipment Div. Willow Run 1946-1947
Frazer Farm Equipment Div. Graham-Paige Motors  Willow Run 1947-1949
Frazer Farm Equipment Corp.    Auburn 1949-Present 

I have an undated sales brochure that the name on it is Graham-Paige Motors Corp., York, Pennsylvania. It was distributed by Pgh. Kaiser-Frazer Sales Co., 4803 Baum Blvd., Pittsburgh 13, Pa. It was signed by a salesman name was R.H. Schmidt and a delivered price of $504.88 was written on it.

Kaiser-Frazer Automobile Dealers stopped offering the Rototiller in 1948.

Several attachments were available they included a snow-plow or bulldozer blade, front field mower, side rear mounted field mower, 6" flat and 12" V-belt pulley drive, furrower, water pump, single or double row planter, disc hiller, potato digger, cultivator.

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Beside the attachments offered by Frazer, Jaques Power Saw Company of Dennilson, Texas offered a Jaques Jr. Portable Post-Hole Digger, Jaques Portable Power Saw and the Jaques Cut-Off Saw was offered under the Jaques name.

Jaques and Frazer also produced a small four-wheel tractor based on Jaques "Mighty Mite", called the Model T, using the Frazer engine and gearbox as the prime mover. The excerpt from "Farm Tractors 1926-1956" has the Simar engine as the engine used, the picture shows the Frazer engine. Some 5,000 of these units where built in 1948.

Jaques-Frazer Model T 1948


"A Biography of Lawrence D. Bell" by Donald J. Norton

York County Heritage Trust; York, Pennsylvania

"Farm Tractors 1926-1956" by I. & T.

Farm and Dairy Newspaper, "Let's Talk Rusty Iron" by Sam Moore; January 19, 1995 and March 2, 1995

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Graham-Paige and Frazer's

Frazer Farm Equipment Co.
1923 Wayne St.
P.O. Box 391
Auburn, Indiana 46706
11:00 AM to 2:30 PM, M-W-F
Tel: 260-925-2210  Note new Area Code
Fax: 260-925-9896

Charlie Zuck
Graham-Paige and Roto-Ette
This Website just keeps getting Better!

Bob Antram
Graham-Paige / Frazer Collector
Tel: 814-443-6468
Fax: 814-443-9452

Darin Van Ausdal
Frazer Collector

Charles Johnson
Frazer Parts

Appalachian Equipment, Co.
Steve Bowes
Milton, Pa

Yetman's Lawn & Garden
Norm Yetman
A must see Website

The Graham-Paige / Frazer Farm Equipment Tags
by Rustypenny

I have put together some information I would like to share and perhaps someone else has yet another tag to add.

It seems that there were at least five different tags used on these machines to date.

The Graham-Paige tag:

Frazer/Graham-Paige tag:

ROTOTILLER Frazer Farm Equipment:

Serviced by Frazer Farm Equipment:

Black Tag ROTOTILLER Frazer Farm Equipment:

Through the years, the last three tags have replaced the first two. When the motors were rebuilt at Frazer Farm Equipment, they replaced the tags and sometimes stamped the back of the tags with day/month/year. Sometimes they also stamped a single digit on the tags. This was the number assigned to the repairman doing the work.

The Serviced By tag above has a number 8 stamped on the front side of the tag just below the B1 7 A. The back side of the tag is stamped 7/17/64. That date should have been the last rebuild date at the Frazer Farm Equipment. That tiller ended up as one of my parts tillers.

If anyone happens to have yet another tag please send me a picture, as you can see I have a thing about tags!

For more information order my book:

The Rototiller in America

You can ordered the book directly from the publisher,
Infinity Publishing, website,
a Print On Demand (POD) publisher.

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Copyrighted 1998-2009 Donald A.Jones

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