I have, my friends tell me, a very strange hobby. I collect electric garden tractors, especially the original General Electric Elec-Trak family of
tractors, accessories and those attachments (G.E. and aftermarket) offered with the original product line. I suppose starting a coin collection would
have taken a lot less room.
These tractors were manufactured in the early 1970’s and require no gasoline; they run and do all their work strictly on a 36V system of deep cycle
batteries. Despite this rather modest sounding voltage (some rechargeable hand tools use this today), the tractors themselves were full size and even
forty years later they have been known to out pull 25hp gasoline based garden tractors at local tractor shows. They will cut three acres plus of lawn on a single charge
and recharge over night simply by plugging them into a 120V outlet and setting the timer on their built-in chargers. By adding the auxillary battery pack
one can cut up to five acres on a single charge.
"New Idea" Elec-Trak Garden Tractors
Mr. Bruce Laumeister who in 1968 had developed G.E.'s experimental "Delta" electric car headed up the project as Manager of the Outdoor
Products Equipment Operation (OPEO). In 1973 G.E. cut a deal with "New Idea" to manufacture six of the models under their logo along with G.E. still producing their own line.
After producing 33,313 units, G.E. sold the entire product line to Wheel Horse so there are like models of the
original G.E. family of tractors from both of those manufacturers as well. Basically they look pretty much the same albeit the colors were changed and
there were some improvements made here and there in the products. By 1978 the product was sunsetted never to be
seen again. Although attempts have been made, the electric garden tractor has not made a comeback, at least, not on the
scale of the Elec-Trak. Most attempts have been strictly mowers at best and usually under powered at that.
The G.E. tractors had great torque and had an amazing variety of attachments as you will see browsing this site.
"Wheel Horse" Elec-Trak Garden Tractors
I started out deliberately confining myself to the original family of G.E tractors and had resisted the temptation to expand my collection to the New Idea
and Wheel Horse models for a number of reasons. First, I thought there had to be some limits to any obsession and I thought owning 14 different models of a electric
lawn tractor was enough even for me. (As a side note, G.E. made several changes even within each Elec-Trak model over the years they were in production.)
Second, since it was G.E.’s brain child to start with and it really represented the “birth” of the electric tractor it was just a lot cooler to stick
with the originals I thought. Finally, my wife had been very generous with this hobby to date so I thought it best not
to test the limits if you know what I mean. I began to weaken along the way and a few new additions began to show up in the barn. Before you know it I
have now become a collector of not only the New Idea and Wheel Horse Elec-trak models, but many of the competitive electric tractors of the era as well.
(Ok, who am I kidding, my wife started to weaken along the way. The truth is I caught her in a weak moment when I took her on a cruise!) The collection has
grown to an even 32 machines now- it's time to stop! (well maybe?)
Competitive Electric Garden Tractors of the 1970's era- Sears, John Deere's, & Cub Cadet.
Speaking of my lovely wife, I happen to show her a web site where the owner had named his Elec-Trak "Sunflower". Today, all our tractors are now named after
different yellow flowers. Apparently it's easier for her to remember which tractor is which. She also wanted her own Elec-Trak to run around the property
with so we designated her the New Idea EGT 200- of course now she wants me to paint it "pink" for her! I guess it's not like she's painting an original
General Electric model, still, when I start showing off a pink Elec-Trak on this site they might just kick me out off the
Elec-Trak Forum Site!
Our home's solar array also recharges our Elec-Traks and our Chevy Volt.
Another somewhat cool fact is that our tractors are also powered from solar panels- totally free power. We use our solar array to directly charge our
tractors with DC power. A fully spent tractor will take just a single day in good sun to be ready to ride again. I hope to "someday" restore the entire collection (Please don't hold your breath- I'm just taking it one piece
at a time!).
I'm in the middle of a web site refresh so if it looks a little ragged around the edges at times or something
suddenly quit working it's probably because I am messing with it inthe background. Bear with me! It will be
better when I'm finished- I hope! I will be adding more information as well as more features and functions. Any suggestions of things that could be added to the site or improvements made are very welcomed.
There are a LOT smarter people out there on these tractors than I am and I am sure errors will be found in this site as well as lots more information
that could be added. If you have any additions or suggestions, please feel free to
me. I am eager to learn more
about these machines and to add information to the site.
This web site is for me as much as anyone else as it will give me a single point of reference for everything I know about each tractor and attachment
as well as allow me to keep tract of the restoration needs each has. I've met some really fun and amazingly smart people working on this hobby-
strange as it may be!
George "Geo" Beckett