Kerosene or gas


Mega Poster
WMSTR Lifetime Member
On the older tractors, namely the larger prairie tractors, is gasoline burned or kerosene?I have a 1940 "A" JD and my dad liked to mix diesel and gas to get that distillate smell when it was working.Thanks.
distillate fuel

This is a good reference to some of the fuels used in the early to mid 1900`s... hope this helps with your question. It seems like the general trend is to mix 50/50 of gas and diesel to get distillate. You have to make your own since it is no longer available.

Diesel fuel first started appearing in large agricultural crawlers in the 1930s, but it was not until the 1950s that diesel became a major fuel source for farm tractors. Difficult starting limited the use of early diesel engines. Some manufacturers built spark-ignition diesel engines, or engines that started on gasoline and were switched over to diesel. Others used small gasoline "pony motors" to warm and start the diesel main engine.

By 1960, diesel engines had greatly improved and were becoming very popular for large farm tractors. By the 1970s, nearly all farm tractors used diesel engines.


Kerosene was commonly used as a tractor fuel in the early part of the 20th century. Like tractor-fuel, it was used in "all fuel" engines after the engine had warmed enough to allow efficient combustion of the kerosene. Cheaper gasoline after World War II, plus the onset of diesel engines, caused kerosene to disappear as a tractor fuel.




Known as tractor vapourising oil or distillate, this once-cheap fuel was commonly used in farm tractors until World War II. Many manufacturers built low-compression "all fuel" engines designed to burn tractor-fuel, gasoline, or kerosene. The engine was started on gasoline from a small tank, and switch to tractor-fuel once it was warm.

Tractor-fuel was a low grade fuel produced between gasoline and diesel in the traditional distillation of crude oil. The refining techniques developed during World War II made it possible to convert this into more useful fuels, and it began to disappear,

A tractor-fuel engine can be run on modern gasoline. The lowest grade of gasoline available today is often better than the highest grade available when these engines were built.
I had always wondered what distallate fuel was and why it wasn't around anymore. Good bit of information, thanks.

Once I got about 10 gallons of gas/diesel mix from work. Somebody "forgot" the forklift ran on diesel and topped the tank with gas.. Took it home with me and put in two of the older tractors at home. The H Farmall LOVED it, never ran better. The U Moline liked it fine, still cough thinking about starting it up in the shed that cold morning...