1949 Sheppard SD-1

Sheppard Tractors are usually among the most rare of the orphan vehicles. We covered a ‘51 Sheppard SD-3 for you back in 2015 and you will see the story online at the Diesel powered World website linked below. This time around we show you the smallest Sheppard, built-in very small numbers from early ‘49 into January of 1950. When you will learn, it’s one of the rarest treasured tractors you will ever see.


“The  motor used in the SD-1 was constructed around a 3 x 4-inch weary and stroke. The air-cooled device in the SD-1 was indirect inserted and rated at 5. four gross horsepower at 2000 rpm. ”

We won’t rehash the entire R. H. Sheppard Firm history, which you can read in the on-line story, but we will tell you that will Richard Sheppard designed and began building diesel engines in 1937 as a sideline to some of their other business pursuits. The motor business was his main attention and passion, so he extended it as he could and when the particular rearmament push came in 1940, then outright war in 1941, he or she was ready to supply engines for your war effort. That translated primarily into generator sets and single-cylinder engines for lifeboats and the wartime production boosted the diesel company.

Post War Aspirations

After the war, Sheppard was starving to create a diesel empire in the world of farming. He started in 1948 with a repower kit to put the three-cylinder, 188 ci Sheppard diesel into IH Farmall M tractors. In 1949, Sheppard debuted his own line of vehicles, the SD-1, SD2 and SD-3 tractors. Contrary to some reports, the particular “SD” in the tractor model designations did not stand “Sheppard Diesel. ” According to Peter Sheppard, son from the founder, it was the first and final letters of “ShepparD. ” The particular 1, 2 or 3 in the designation pointed out the plow rating and coincided with number of engine cylinders. The particular R. H. Sheppard Company might also build and sell bare diesel powered engines, generator sets, power models, and marine engines.

Here’s a sneak peak in an upcoming Tractor Talk on the Sheppard SD-2. The SD-2 was not a sizable tractor, so this shot highlights the particular diminutive size of the SD-1.

In the ‘40s and ‘50s, there were a lot of inexpensive compact vehicles on the market, useful for plowing up the vegetable patch, moving small wagons, probably pulling a gang mower on the golf course. Because Sheppard had one-cylinder diesels, it seemed logical to begin the lineup with a small tractor in this category, to be called the SD-1.

To accomplish all this quickly, these people used as much outside-sourced material as you can. In the case of the diminutive SD-1, these people bought an almost complete small tractor and installed a Sheppard one-cylinder, air cooled diesel. The SD-1 was built on a rolling framework sourced from Doylestown Machine Organization, of Danboro, Pennsylvania, about 132 miles from Sheppard’s Hanover, Pa plant.   Doylestown produced a little tractor called the Atomic Babe, run by a Novo gasoline engine. Sheppard made a few changes but with the particular exception of the engine, the SD-1 and the Atomic Babe are almost identical.



Certainly one of only three known to still exist! The final one that sold went for $27, 300 in 2016. It ain’t purty, nor was it a really good tractor, but it was probably the first diesel-powered garden-sized tractor built-in the U. S. This one will be part of the Wendell Kelch collection, which usually spans the four Sheppard versions. Kelch is well known for some outstanding tractor and truck restorations, as well as a quite unique collection of equipment. This one has got the optional electric start.

The engine used in the SD-1 was built around a 3 by 4-inch bore and stroke. The particular air-cooled unit in the SD-1 had been indirect injected and rated on 5. 4 gross horsepower from 2000 rpm. A similar water-cooled engine has been rated for up to 8 hp, however it was apparently only used in a single experimental SD-1.

Fate from the SD-1

The SD-1 was obviously a resounding failure. First off, list cost was $1095, about 20 % more than many equivalent competitive products. Secondly, Sheppard was harsh using their dealers. They had no floor or even financing plans for the dealers and they also had to buy their own demo vehicles and all purchases were “cash-n-carry. ” It appears from the sales ledgers the dealer cost was about $995, therefore it appears there wasn’t a huge revenue margin, either. On top of that, it was a real so-so to average tractor in any case and there wasn’t enough “whizbangness” to overcome the other obstacles. It is only unique feature was the diesel powered engine and in the tractor marketplace of 1949, that was as much the detriment as a draw. Diesels had been still looked a skeptically simply by most small farmers.

Sheppard Diesel Tractor

Sheppard Diesel powered Tractor

This tractor was ordered with a Sheppard dealer but when the selling fell thru and the dealer could not find another buyer, it was kept. It ended up being a yard princess or queen before being stuffed into the back of the storage building and finally sold many years later. Kelch is only the fourth proprietor. From the business end, we can see the swinging, adjustable height drawbar. Sheppard never paid to have their vehicles Nebraska tested, so we don’t understand how much drawbar power it could create.

Sheppard Diesel Fuel Injector pump

Sheppard Diesel powered Fuel Injector pump

The fuel shot was extremely simple and that was the two edged sword. One of the earlier Sheppard salesmen would demonstrate exactly how easy the system was to work upon by disassembling it and reassembling it with little more than a Crescent wrench and  pliers. Farmers such as easy so that was a plus. At the minus side, the system barely created 1000 psi injection pressure, therefore atomization was not a strong suit.

In looking at the production ledgers with Wendell Kelch, owner of the SD-1, we could find only a complete of 17 tractors, most of that have been leftover units sold at bargain-basement costs to an outfit in the Philippines within January of 1950, after manufacturing had ended. The SD-2, and particularly the SD-3, were more successful. The particular Sheppard line was further enhanced by the intro of the SD-4 within 1954, but that was near the finish of the tractor era at Sheppard. In most ways, the SD-4 was your best Sheppard and compared properly with other diesel tractors in the market, unfortunately he overpriced and dealers still were not incentivized. Sheppard left the tractor biz in 1956.

Sheppard Diesel SD-1 Tractor

Sheppard Diesel SD-1 Tractor

Minimal controls plus instrumentation and minimal comfort. All of us test drove this unit plus found it supremely uncomfortable plus non-ergonomic. It has only two devices, an ammeter and an essential oil pressure gauge. Some sources make a list with a top speed of 7 your.

Sheppard SD-1 Engine

Sheppard SD-1 Engine

We have not really found Sheppard’s designation for the motor in the SD-1, if it differed through the “SD-1” on the engine tag. It had been indirect injected and could be began by hand with a crank or by having an optional electric start system. The particular engine has a compression release within the head for hand starting. The particular engine tag lists it with 5. 4 gross horsepower in 2000 rpm, but other specs through Sheppard list it at 4 hewlett packard at 2000 rpm. If the 4-hp shall be believed, it could be the net, or constant, power rating for stationary make use of. The engine has a pressurized reduction in friction system with an oil filter, uncommon for small engines of the day, as well as a fin and tube oil much cooler. Some source material lists the 1000 hour oil change time period, with filter changes only, yet we don’t know if it used on all the Sheppard tractors.

SD-1 Compression release

SD-1 Compression release

The compression release had been useful with maintenance and for hands starting.

Ironically, Sheppard added power steering to the SD-4 and that changed their fortunes. To keep their factory hitting on every eight during the tractor era, they will took on side manufacturing work, one of which was power steering techniques. They began innovating and today, they may be a foremost builder of strength steering systems for trucks plus tractors. They are still in Hanover and recently built an art gallery highlighting their manufacturing history.


1949 Sheppard SD-1

Engine: 1-cylinder,
Shift: 28 ci
Bore & Cerebrovascular accident: 3×4 in.
Compression Ratio: 20: 1
Flywheel Power: 5. 4 hp @ 2000rpm
Transmission:   3-speed
Weight: one, 100 lbs
Fuel Capacity: 1 ) 5 gal.
Tires: Front- four. 00-12
Rear- seven. 50-16


Kelch Restoration


This post was originally published on this site

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