The Ford Motor Company built the Ford Typhoon, an experimental tractor, for research work. The engineering department built and tested it to help them learn more about a free-piston turbine engine. The sales department then unveiled it in March 1957 to emphasize the breadth of tractor engineering work Ford had undertaken. Ford's free-piston engine was actually a free-piston gas generator and a gas driven turbine that was capable of operating on a variety of fuels. The Typhoon was a tricycle type of tractor that was similar in appearance to the Ford 900 series. However, it was longer with a 97- inch wheelbase and had two headlights mounted at the upper front corners of the hood. The grille, hood, fenders, and wheels were painted gray and the engine and drive train were painted red. The free-piston turbine engine was limited to 50 drawbar horsepower for the Typhoon; about half of the engines rated 100 horsepower. The engine had one 3.75- inch diameter cylinder with two pistons, one in each end of the cylinder. As they moved toward each other, they covered the intake ports and exhaust ports, similar to a two-cycle engine. When the air between the two pistons was compressed enough to reach combustion temperature, fuel was injected into the cylinder. Combustion caused the two pistons to move outward, as shown in Diagram 1, the top diagram. As the pistons moved outward and uncovered the intake and exhaust ports, compressed air in the "air box" moved into the cylinder through the intake ports, mixed with the exhaust gases, and was expelled through the exhaust ports as shown in Diagram 2. The diluted hot gases flowed into a surge tank, not shown, and then past a 6-inch diameter, high-speed turbine that drove the tractor.Each main piston was connected to a larger piston in a "bounce" cylinder and as they moved outward, the air in the bounce cylinders, chambers "B" in diagram 1, was compressed and provided the rebound to move the main pistons inward. At the same time air was pulled past the reed valves into the "C" chambers of Diagram 2. As the main pistons moved inward, the air on the inward side of the bounce pistons was pushed into the air box, chamber "A" in Diagram 3. The engine was started with a vacuum pump that drew air from the "B" chambers and thus pulled the pistons back. Next a measured amount of air was fed into "B" chambers that forced the pistons to move inward for the compression stroke. Another feature of the Tycoon was its 10-speed transmission that the operator was able to shift on the go by moving one short lever. However, it went unnoticed at the demonstrations and often received only a line or two at the end of the articles about the tractor. A Ford Motor Company employee provided the above information to me. The author of this article is unknown.

The Following is an article from the 1958 issue of the Ford Almanac:
This publication was furnished to me courtesy of: Ron Griffith Mahomet, Illinois

"Revolutionary New Free Piston Turbine Tractor"

"The most revolutionary development in tractors since Ford introduced the hydraulic system in 1939" That's what Ford engineers call the "Typhoon". It's a free piston turbine engine "It brings us to a threshold of power capabilities of which farmers previously could only dream", says Merritt D. Hill, General Manager, Tractor and Implement Division. It is now being tested in the field. The engine has only one cylinder, and produces gasses that spin a turbine at 45,000rpm. It has no crankshaft, connecting rods, or spark plugs. The Typhoon should be cheap to build and cheap to operate since it will burn any hydrocarbon fuel; cheap to maintain, and automatically give more power when the going gets tougher. It starts instantly in coldest weather, and has no vibration.

On a personal note, in building the "Typhoon II" I began a search for "Typhoon I". I was able to talk to an engineer assigned to this project in 1957 and gain knowledge of it and if it was still in existence. Supposedly there was one tractor and two engines built. The extra engine was presented by Ford Motor Company to the engineer I spoke with and was in his possession for two years. At that time Ford Motor Company requested it back and it was destroyed because of some sort of patent infringement. Then I began tracking down the actual "Typhoon I Tractor ". Through multiple leads and their memories I finally located an employee of the Ford Tractor Division that related the following story to me: "It was in 1978 when additional warehouse space was needed. The "Typhoon" was on a pallet with the wheels removed. It was then that a piece of equipment was dispatched to haul the original "Typhoon" to its final resting place in a metal recycling dumpster". Marvin Baumann 2005

International Harvestor
HT-341Turbine Tractor

IH HT-341 Concept Drawing

Marvin Baumann with HT-341

Ken Updike tell us that IH engineers started experimenting with hydrostatic drive tractors in the 1950's. International developed the first hydro static drive tractor using a stock I-340 tractor. The standard gasoline utility tractor had its entire drive train (clutch, transmission, final drives) replaced by a variable displacement hydrostatic pump and two construction final drive motors (one mother for each rear wheel). The HD-340 proved itself in tests and out preformed the gear drive I-340. With one lever the driver of the HD-340 controlled travel speed. Simple operation over a tractors speed would open up a new ease of operation in big jobs like planting, baling and forage harvesting.

After the HD-340 passed the test phase, the engineers at IH took the experiment to a new level. They replaced the IH built gasoline engine from the I-340 with a gas turbine from IH's SOLAR engine division. After some "space age" styling to the sheet metal the tractor was ready for its public debuted. The HD with the solar turbine looked futuristic in 1961 compared to the other tractors in the IH line but if you look at the sheet metal it has similar lines and looks to the 88 series introduced in 1982.

IH brought out the new HT-340 on July 20, 1961 at the 10 th annual University of Nebraska Tractor Day. Shortly after the show, the tractor was damaged when the truck transporting the new tractor overturned in Missouri. The HT-340 was returned to IH's Hindsdale Engineering Center for repairs. Ken Updike belives that it was at this time the tractors model number changed from HT-340 to HT-341. The early pictures of the HT-340 show different emblems and painted in blue. The HT-341 was given a new look with a white/red/silver paint scheme. IH used the HT-341 at a variety of farm shows and dealer open houses through 1962. The tractor was then put into storage and then in 1967 donated to the Smithsonian Institute as part of the 75 th Anniversary of the gas powered tractor.

Information and picture for article courtesy of

Turbine Tractors