Text Box: Heider C
Tractor Summery

· Weight: 6200 lbs

· Engine: Waukesha M 4 1/2 x 6 3/4 900 rpm

· Mag: Dixie 46

· Carb: Kingston L3

· Serial Numbers:  Nebraska test Heider #5024

· Nebraska Test :016                                                                                          

Heider C 1913-1925?

The Heider 12-20 C is what most people think of when they think Heider. Produced in comparatively large numbers for a decade, the C is by far the most common of the Heiders still found today and is one of the more common of the lesser known's of the teens and early 20’s, with more survivors then many other brands of the day.


Released in early 1914, the C 10-20 was a major redesign of the B with a number of advanced features to help keep its share of the rapidly growing light tractor market. Although the trademark Heider friction drive was kept, it was substantially redesigned from 1 speed to 7. A Waukesha M engine provided 10-20 HP, although Nebraska Test 16  (Rock Island was one of the first companies to submit tractors to the newly formed Nebraska Test) would prove this to be slightly underrated with the C recorded as making 13-24 HP. By 1916 the C was appearing in ads as 12-20 HP after a minor tweak in gearing after Rock Island took over the Heider tractor division.


Unlike the B, the C also featured an automotive style radiator and front mounted engine directly behind it, looking like a rather conventional tractor. The engine itself slides forward and back on wood rails to engage the friction disks. Although technically an infinitely variable drive, it was advertised as 7 speeds forward and back (by engaging the opposite friction plate) due to 7 notches on the shift. The chain drive was replaced by a gear drive and the drivers area was enlarged, though still fairly cramped with the open axle running through the drivers area. One tank held kerosene and a second tank was divided to hold water for mixing with the kerosene and gas. Early Heider C’s required priming in petccocks , but by 1919 a choke system had appeared.


The introduction of the Heider C overlapped  Heider’s marketing agreement with Rock Island in 1914, with Rock Island taking delivery of Heider B’s and apparently rolling out the new Heider C 10-20 at nearly the same time. In addition to the agreement with Rock Island, The Waterloo Company of Ontario Canada became the Canadian distributor of the Heider in 1918 and sold the C as a good match for Waterloo’s own threshing line. Many C’s saw heavy use on threshing rigs and on sawmills and it is not uncommon to find them sold without lugs and with minimal field wear.  


Although the friction drive is now often considered to make the Heiders unsuitable for plowing, The C’s were proven to be a fairly reasonable 3-plow tractor. They were successful enough in the plowing department that a Plow Lift Mechanism was developed by Henry Heider (patent US1373613  see more under Heider D ) and plowing was heavily marketed. This prompted a design change for 1919 which raised the operators platform from the bottom of the frame to the top of the frame. This put the axle at floor level instead of a few inches in the air and the platform was redesigned to accommodate the optional lift.


The C design saw only other incremental changes from 1914 to 1925 when it was replaced by the Heider 15-27, which was a larger engine on the C chassis. In Catalogue 42, the C and 15-27 are both offered so some overlap occurred. The Heider D 9-16, although visually similar to the C, uses few of the same parts. 


The friction disk itself was a paper laminate, ring which fit over the flywheel. Advertising made the replacement of this disk to be a minor thing to be done every year or two depending on tractor use when the old disk wore down to nearly even with the metal. Not only was it required to change the disk then, but one also lost power as the diameter decreased.  The engine was designed to slide farther forward and a few bolts would allow the disk to be removed. Accounts of Heider friction disks still leaving the factory exist into the 1940’s, indicating at least some of these tractors were still in regular use into the war years. Today, PaperPulleys does sell friction disks, but they have multiple measurements on file and we found that ours was not perfectly round so expect some fitting to be required. Others have had success making a masonite disk.


Mention has been made in AP of the 12-20 having at some point used a Waukesha N engine. However, the only rating I have found for an N places it at 4 1/2 x 5 3/4 bore and stroke, a little light for the C, so either the rating I found is wrong, or the N was used on the 9-16 or some other tractor.


Without doubt, the C was by far the most popular of the Heider line and is easily the most common Heider to be found today, with a number of survivors in preservation. 


A running Heider C and look at the engine on Youtube  HERE.

HP:12-20 (10-20) see also 15-27

Heider C

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Above: An early Rock Island Heider C catalog ~1914 for the 10-20.


Copy write 2011, 2012, 2013 not for republication or sale without express written consent. All images are the property of their respective owners and are not to be reused without their express permission. 

Left: 1919 & 1917 Heider C 12-20’s

Below Left: 1917 Heider C 12-20

Below: 1917 and 1919 Heider C’s showing difference in platform