Monroe Lift Attachment
    What we have here is a rare accessory that was produced for the Dodge Power-Wagon. It is a 3-point hitch and was designed to give the Power-Wagon greater adaptability for use on the farm. It was produced by the Monroe Auto Equipment Co. and was called the “Monroe Hydraulic Lift Kit,” (Monroe Lift for short). With it, one could attach common 3-point hitch farm implements and equipment to the rear of the truck. The equipment could then be operated from the truck just as it could from the back of a normal tractor equipped with similar systems.

    The particular hitch shown here is in the current stage of an ongoing project that I started in the late 1980’s. That was the time when I became aware that these accessories once existed. I soon started trying to locate a Monroe Lift for my own Power-Wagon. As of today, I have yet to locate a complete original Power-Wagon version of the Monroe Lift. It appears that only a handful were ever produced, and any that remain are quite elusive. In the years of searching I have gained many photos and pieces of literature pertaining to the Monroe Lift, both for its use on the Power-Wagon, as well as other vehicles that Monroe produced them for. Early on I started to entertain a plan to piece together a hitch with parts as I found them in lieu of waiting for a complete one to become available. Several years of collecting parts and information passed. I was then ready to get started. All of the forgings and the hydraulic control cylinder had been acquired. There would be only a few remaining parts and assemblies left to fabricate. Since I have made various parts, and my hitch is not 100% original, I will call it a “reproduction.” The key to the whole reproduction project was the geometry of the 3-point hitch principle.

    The information on the geometry came directly from old A.S.A.E. Standards of 1950, 1959, and 1961. The Monroe Lift geometry falls into a clearly defined scope known as “Category I”. A common Category I hitch would be those found on Ford and Ferguson tractors from 1939 and up through the 1950's. The only thing smaller is the Category 0, which is usually found only on garden tractors. As far as physical size of the Monroe Lift components, they kind of fall in between what you would normally see being used Category 0 and Category I hitches. They are generally smaller, shorter, and are of lighter weight than the related parts found on Ford and Ferguson tractors. This is because they were originally designed for use on the Jeep Universal. Because of its layout and placement on the rear of the Jeep, the Monroe Lift did work well within the Category I scope. It appears that it was designed to work solely on that vehicle and only later evolved to other vehicles from other manufacturers.

I have studied a lot of photos, drawings, and sales information on the Monroe Lifts. I firmly believe that Monroe used as many common components as possible between the different versions of the hitches that they produced for different applications. The old photos and sales information supports this. The Power-Wagon was, by far, the largest and strongest piece of machinery that ever used the Monroe Lift. Because of this, the components are almost too small, dimensionally, and they just barely meet the A.S.A.E. Category I geometry requirements when used on these trucks. Common tractor parts (Ford and Ferguson) would probably work much more easily within the Category I scope if used by someone in making a hitch system for the back of their Power-Wagon. However, patent and copyright issues prevented Monroe from using existing tractor parts in their design.


As I was lucky to locate all of the Monroe forgings that were used for the Power-Wagon version hitch system, all of the remaining parts that I had to reproduce were relatively simple in comparison. They consisted of weldments and machinings made from flat stock, plate, round stock, and L-Angles. I started by reverse engineering the entire rear of my truck. From this gained knowledge, I then created solid 3-D computer models of these parts and assemblies. I then reverse engineered all of the Monroe parts that I had accumulated. I positioned the truck models and Monroe models into one main assembly with relationships to one another that would allow them to move and work within the Category I scope. I created the remaining missing parts from educated guesses on their design by carefully scaling old photos and images in sales literature, comparing all the information that I could find in order to reach comfortable conclusions. I placed these new created parts into the 3-D assembly and then proceeded to modify their dimensions slightly, where needed, in order for them to fit correctly with the known parts. It was kind of like what I could imagine would be involved in creating missing pieces of a puzzle or restoring an old damaged painting.

Throughout this entire process I kept mentally comparing my methods to those that I imagined the engineers at Monroe would have used in the redevelopment of their existing hitch system to work on the Power-Wagon. For cost effectiveness, they would have wanted to use as many of their existing parts as possible. They would also have wanted to make the assembly simple, strong, and capable. Time was probably an issue also. They did not have computer programs and their work would have been fairly prototypical and by the seat of the pants. They would not have wanted to make complicated changes to the truck in order for the hitch system to mount to it. And, the Monroe Lift was most likely meant to be dealer or owner installed. With all of this in mind, I set three goals for my reproduction: 1) The finished result had to look exactly like what was shown in old literature and photos. 2) It had to all work as a complete system within the Category I scope. 3) Only the most minimal changes could be made to the truck in the process.

All three of these goals carried the same weight in my mind. Any given one was just as important to me as the next. At first I thought that there would be a good amount of leeway and that I should be able to fall within the target. In reality, I found that the working geometry of the Monroe Lift, when applied to the rear of a Power-Wagon, just barely fit within the Category I scope. In fact, it was quite a challenge to keep the geometry inside that scope. Because of this, I am confident that the parts and assemblies that I had to make are quite close to the originals. That is, if the complete system on the Power-Wagon all worked within the Category I limitations originally.

The job for someone making a lift would probably be easier if using available tractor parts and would certainly be much cheaper. The problem I have found is that the Monroe parts are not overly strong when using the larger and heavier of the common 3-point lift equipment. Most old Power-Wagon and Jeep literature shows them in use with smaller, older, and less common equipment. I believe the Monroe system components were designed for the smaller equipment and the lightweight Jeep. The Power-Wagon is of course much heavier and has much more tractive ability. I imagine that the few lifts that found their way to the rear ends of Power-Wagons were quickly turned into scrap.

I will keep searching for that original, hardly used, unit hiding out there.

Until it is found, I hope to do enough research and eventually provide enough information for a comprehensive discussion on the Monroe Hydraulic Lift Kit, its various applications and uses, and how it all tied together with other unique agricultural aspects of the Power-Wagon. Hopefully I can provide some insight into how the development and marketing of the Dodge Power-Wagon, “…the all-purpose farm vehicle…a truck, tractor, and portable power-plant…all in one!…” led a parallel existence to another “farm vehicle” of the same time period.
Power-Wagon Monroe Lift Attachments

-Clint Dixon

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