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The Oliver 2255

By Sherry Schaefer


It was no secret to the farm equipment manufacturers that the key to the future was horsepower.   M&W Gear was already doing their part to add horsepower with the “Add-Power” pistons.  Imaginative farmers were already pulling their engines to repower with a higher HP engine such as a 903 Cummins or a Detroit.  All of this accomplished what Elmo Meiners of M&W Gear had been preaching all along – “Get more work done per dollar invested and per hour worked.“  Farming was now a business and not just a way of life as in the past. 


During 1972, there were quite a few tractors already hitting or exceeding the 100 HP mark.  In 1970, there were 25,435 farm wheel tractors sold in the US over 100 HP.  By 1972 that number had climbed to 45,956.  The figure had nearly doubled in just two short years. 


The 150 HP barrier seemed to be the next one to break.  Allis-Chalmers was marketing the 440, which was a Steiger-built machine.  Case was offering the 1370 and 1470.  Deere had the most models available with the 5020, 6030, 7020 and 7520.  Massey had the 1500 and 1800.  Of course Versatile and Steiger both had models well surpassing the 140 HP mark.   White Motors was offering the G1355, 2455 and 2655 in both Oliver and Minneapolis-Moline colors.  But none of those three models were “true” Oliver tractors. 


By this time, the engineers at White Motor had already planned on phasing out the Meadow Green Oliver models and replacing them with the new silver models in the upcoming production years.    But the new models were a long way from production so they needed a model to fill the void.   Planning for the Oliver 2255 actually began in 1970, two years before production actually began. 


Oliver had been working with several engine manufacturers in the past few years such as Hercules, Waukesha, GM and Perkins.  All of those models had been 6-cylinder in-line engines.    Caterpillar had already been providing their 3150 engine to Steiger for use in the Wildcat.  The 1150 Massey was using a Perkins V8 and IH had just installed their V8 truck motor in the 1466, making it a 1468.  So a V8 engine in a farm tractor was not necessarily something new.  


Why Caterpillar?  Oliver knew that they had pushed the Waukesha engine to the limits with the 1950-T.   The Hercules motor had experienced a few minor problems but nothing major.  The problem with that engine is that it lacked sales appeal.  The key to Oliver was marketability.  According to Charles City engineer, John Rex, the farmer didn’t care what kind of seat it had or another other feature.  They wanted to know “how much power does it have?”  The Cat engine was very well known in off road use.  Cat backed up their motor with “the big yellow book” showing all the testing that had been done to perfect this motor.  Thus, it was the engine of choice for Oliver. 


Taking this new motor, the Oliver engineers built the drive train to fit the engine and its power rating.  This was one of the problems with the repowers and squeezing so much more out of previous models.  The extra power attributed to drive-line failure so Oliver wanted to make sure that would not become a problem with their new high horsepower model.   


The 2255 was to become Oliver’s only V8 powered tractor and their most powerful two-wheel-drive model.  The union that was formed between Oliver/White and Cat would be one that lasted for several years as the Cat engine was placed in numerous future models. 


Although the 2255 had the same basic look as the other 55 series Oliver models, there were quite a few differences.  In order to fit the wide V8 engine in the frame, it had to be widened in the middle where the block was.  It narrowed back at up at the front which allowed for use of the same heavyweight grill used on the 1755-1955 models. 


The hood and side panel sheet metal was unique to that model since it had to be widened for the V8.  The four-stage air cleaner was placed behind the motor but the top of the air filter housing had to protrude through the hood. 


The transmission consisted of a 6-speed helical gear transmission as regular equipment.  This provided travel speeds from 1.8 MPH to 14.3 MPH plus two reverse speeds from 2.2 MPH to 5.3 MPH.   Offered as optional equipment was the Over/Under Hydraul Shift.  This $725 option gave the operator 18 forward speeds and 6 reverse speeds.  With this combination, the 2255 had travel speeds from 1.5 MPH to 17.1 MPH with 18.4-38 tires.  This power-shift option was located on the side of the console to the right of the steering wheel and was easily activated with just the flick of the lever. 


With the higher horsepower and higher RPMs, a reduction of torque on the axles was necessary.  Rear floating planetaries were provided by Clark reducing axle strain by as much as 75%. 


With the heavier machine, heavier braking was required.  The 2255’s little brother used twin disc brakes.  This wasn’t sufficient for the husky V8 model so hydraulically activated, self-self adjusting triple disc brakes were installed. 


A 1000 RPM power-take-off was standard equipment.  However a dual-speed unit was offered as optional equipment.  A 13” self-adjusting hydraulic clutch controlled the engagement of the PTO.  There was also a hydraulic brake on the PTO shaft to provide safety when hooking up to implements.  This brake was automatically activated when the machine was shut down to assure that it couldn’t be started with the PTO engaged. 


The 3-point hitch was built with big work in mind.  The hitch was lifted by two single-acting eternal 3”x8” cylinders hooked parallel to each other.  The heavy-duty hitch was designed to accept Category II and III tools with a lifting capacity of 6,000 pounds.   Spring-loaded latches with a rope going to the tractor seat permit the operator to hook up or unhook all from the tractor seat. 


Standard equipment for the hydraulics consisted of a closed-center hydraulic system with draft-control for the 3-point and one detent valve for remote cylinders.   Two detent valves or a 4-position float valve and a detent valve were optional equipment.  Up to four valves could be used with field installation.  However, the installation of a cab or a roll bar limited the amount of valves that could be used.  With a cab, you could only install two valves and with a roll bar you could install three.  Single acting or double acting cylinders could be used without adjustment of the hydraulic system. 


To provide total comfort for the operator, Oliver offered a factory-installed cab.  This cab was manufactured by Crenlo of Rochester, MN.   Oliver had worked with this company previously when it installed a cab on the Super 99.  Crenlo was a reputable company at that time and still builds cabs to major manufacturers today.  The cab used on the 2255 had a four-post ROPS integrated into it to exceed industry standards at that time.   A full-width front windshield along with wide side windows gave a large panoramic view without any obstructions.  Tinted safety glass was used to prevent glare.  The interior of the cab measured 63 inches from floor to roof and 53 inches from side to side for plenty of elbow room.  The doors were easily removed by lifting them off the pins.  All of the mounting points were rubber sealed to prevent dust entry. 


The cab mounting brackets used rubber isolation blocks to help absorb shock and vibration.  The cab was raised to permit airflow underneath it a keep the temperatures slightly lower.   Insulation throughout the cab kept the noise level to 89 decibels.


Air filtration was a must for the comfort of the driver and Crenlo proved a pressurized cab that drew air from side baffles.  All air was circulated through a filter and then refiltered.  Air flow was designed to flow over your head, down your back to the floor then back to the front giving a full circle of air flow.  Of course air conditioning and a heater was optional.  This combination was quite pricey for that era but sure was a nice luxury to have.  The basic cab cost $1470 in 1973 but the loaded cab with heat and AC listed for $2320.  This same cab could be used on the 1755, 1855 and 1955.


If you just wanted to sit in the shade, Oliver offered a roll-bar that came with or without the canopy.  If a roll-bar was ordered, it came with a seat belt.  Neither of these were factory installed.  They could be ordered from Oliver by the dealer but the dealer or the customer had to install them.  The roll bar that fit the 2255 would also fit the 1750, 1755, 1850, 1855, G955, 1950T, 1955 and G1355.  This roll bar listed for $348 in 1973.


Fender fuel tanks provided extra capacity for long days in the fields.  A pair of fender tanks held 78 gallons of fuel while the primary tank held 35 gallons.  However, if a cab was installed, fender tanks wouldn’t fit so Oliver offered auxiliary fuel tanks that could be installed beside the cab.  These were limited to a capacity of 15 gallons each. 


Because of the outboard planetaries, the tractor width was stationary.  To permit adjustment, Oliver offered the power-adjust rear wheels.  This gave you an extra 12 inches on each side.  Dual wheel extensions were also a popular option and gave the tractor a massive look.


The 2255 was sold in two different configurations: 2-wheel drive or 4-wheel drive.  The two-wheel drive Row Crop model came with a high clearance front axle that was adjustable from 60” to 80”.    For the farmer that wanted to be hooked to the ground with all four claws, Oliver offered the Clark-built front wheel assist.  The 2255 used a 10/46 bevel set in the transmission and the front axle ratio was 6.833:1.  The ratio of the front differential is stamped on the upper rear portion of the housing.   Making sure the ground speed matches on the front and rear tires is important for tire wear.  The chart below designates what tires size should be used in combination.


Front                          Rear

14.9-26x8 R1             18.4-38x8 R1

14.9-26x8 R2             18.4-34x8 R2

14.9-26x8 R1             23.1-34x8 R1

14.9-26x8 R2             23.1-34x8 R2

16.9-26x8 R1             20.8-38x8 R1

16.9-26x8 R1             23.1-34x8 R1


Now, for the most exciting part of the tractor: the engine.  When the 2255 was first introduced, the power plant was a  Caterpillar 3150 engine.  This V8 motor had a 573 cubic inch displacement with a 4.5 bore and 4.5 stroke.  Operating at 2600 rated rpms, it was estimated that PTO horsepower was 140.   Although it was first introduced to the dealers in August of 1972, it was September 1973 before it was tested at Nebraska.  Under test No. 1144, the tractor put out 126.13 maximum drawbar HP and 146.72 maximum PTO HP.


In 1974, at tractor serial number 248 722, the 3150 engine was replaced by the 3208 Cat.  This engine used the same 4.5 inch bore but had a 5 inch stroke which increased the CID to 636.  Even with this increase in size, the HP rating was only raised to 147 and this tractor/engine combination was never tested in Nebraska for official ratings. 


On the outside, these two engines didn’t look that much different.  However, they were totally redesigned on the inside.  The most obvious difference is the fuel pump.  The 3150 used an in-line pump while the 3208 used a V-shaped pump like the configuration of the motor itself.  In addition, this new pump was rated at 2800 RPM. 


Comparing the two engines, the 3208 had less than half of the emissions that the 3150 had.  The rear of the crankcase was beefed up for additional flywheel mounting bolts.   The oil passages previously used for the in-line pump were plugged.  The flywheel housing had more bolts, webbing around the crank rear seal and there was more meat on the starter mounting flange.  The 3208 used a crank with a larger front diameter to give more strength due to mounted accessories.  The front cover was also reshaped to allow the mounting of additional accessories. 


The 3150 had the thermostat mounted in the coolant inlet.  The 3208 moved it to the coolant outlet, which offered less restriction to water flow and reduced radiator working pressure.  The oil pump capacity was increased by 25% on the 3208 and the oil cooler capacity had been increased too.  The compression ratio in the 3150 was 17:1 while the 3208 was 16.5:1. 


This tractor was marketed under two different colors.  The US and export markets were painted Meadow Green.  However, tractors built for the Canadian market were painted Sumac Red and white and sold as White 2255 models.


Production lasted from the fall of 1972 until February 13, 1976.  This marked the last day that an Oliver tractor would roll down the assembly line in the Charles City, Iowa plant. The new series of tractors were now silver and bore the name WHITE.  To many, this was the end of an era, which makes this tractor even more desirable.  



Centerfold text:

Oliver/White 2255

Production Years:  1972-1976

Total Units Built:  2160

Tractors w/Cat 3150: 1,340

Tractors w/Cat 3208:  820


Tractor owned by: George Weikum

Naperville, IL


Photo by Super T