Case Corporation

Case Corporation

Case Corporation (formerly J.I. Case Company) was a manufacturer of construction and agricultural equipment. In 1999 it merged with New Holland to form CNH Global. The name Case lives on in two brands of the company:
* Under the Case CE (for Construction Equipment) brand, CNH Global is the third largest manufacturer of construction equipment in the world.
* Under the Case IH (for International Harvester) brand, CNH Global is the second largest manufacturer of agricultural equipment in the world.



Jerome Increase Case (1819-1891) was born in 1819 to a New York State farming family. As a young child, Case read an article in the Genessee Farmer magazine about a machine that could cut wheat without people needing to use their hands to aid it. He developed an interest in agriculture at that point. In 1831, the first reaper machine was demonstrated at Steele's Tavern, Virginia, by Cyrus Hall McCormick (McCormick Tractor). This moment has been considered by many agriculture experts as a key moment in farming history.

Jerome Increase Case took a small, hand-powered threshing machine from Williamstown, New York to Rochester, Wisconsin, where he fixed the machine and established the J I Case company. In 1843, J I Case thresher moved to Racine, Wisconsin, in order to have better access to water and facilities where more threshers could be built and repaired. In 1863, Case sought partnership with three other farmers, Massena Erskine, Robert Baker and Stephen Bull. These four would later be nicknamed "the big four" of the farming industry. In 1842, Case created the J I Case Company. He was later recognized as the first American to create a steam engine for agricultural use.

Case was also involved in politics, becoming mayor of Racine three times, and state senator twice. He was also involved in other endeavors, such as science, arts, banking, and president of several Racine agricultural associations. He was also a race horse owner.

Competition in the farm business

As stated above, McCormick devised his famed wheat reaper and started his legendary binder business. The McCormick Company eventually moved to Michigan Avenue, in Chicago, Illinois, across from the Wrigley Building. In 1859, McCormick's reaper earned a gold medal award at the Royal Exposition, in London, England.

J I Case introduced an eagle logo for the first time in 1865 after a legendary Wisconsin Civil War Regiment's mascot. Case constructed his first portable steam engine in 1869, an engine used to power wheat threshers. This engine is in the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, DC. Case won first place at the 1879 Paris Exposition in France for his thresher; this was the first thresher sent abroad by the Case company and was the first of thousands which would later be exported internationally. It is at this time that Case created his first self-propelled traction engine, with a drive mechanism on one of his portable engines.

Meanwhile, in 1871 the Great Chicago Fire destroyed the McCormick factory. Despite Case's offer to help McCormick with the manufacturing of their machines, McCormick Company refused the offer and a new facility, called the McCormick Works was built, in southwest Chicago. The McCormick company introduced the first of many twine binder machines in 1881, leading to the so called Harvester Wars that gained the attention of the farm industry during the 1880s. (An interesting bit of trivia: this also was the origin of the generic term 'binder' or 'corn binder' for any International Harvester tractor or truck by fans (or detractors) even to this day.)

Another interesting piece of trivia: Case made a visit to a farm named after him in Minnesota during 1884, upon receiving news that one of his thresher machines was not working. Infuriated by the fact that he could not fix the machine himself, he set it ablaze the next day, and sent the owner a brand new thresher machine upon return to Wisconsin. In 1890, the Case Company expanded to South America, opening a factory in Argentina. In 1891, the company's founder, Jerome Increase Case, died at age 72. By this time the Case company produced portable steam engines to power the threshing machines, and later went into the steam traction engine business. By the turn of the century Case was the most prolific North American builder of engines: these ranged in size from the diminutive 9 HP, to the standard 15, 25, 30, 40, 50, 65 HP and up to the plowing 75 and 80 HP sizes. Case also made the large 110 HP breaking engines with its notable two story cab. Nine massive 150 HP hauling engines were made, in addition to steam rollers. Case engines were noted for their use of Woolf valve gear, feedwater heaters, and the iconic 'eagle' smokebox covers.

Internal combustion tractors

By 1895, the Case Company had begun to produce gasoline engines. By 1899, the Case Company entered the Russian market. By 1902, six major American agricultural manufacturing companies decided that a consolidation was needed, and so the McCormick Harvesting Machine Company, the Deering Harvester Company, the Plano Manufacturing Company and four others merged their companies, rebranding the new company conglomerate as International Harvester Company. It became a giant in the industry.

In 1904, Case had introduced the first all steel thresher machine. Case sold their first gasoline tractor that year, and established a continuous presence in most of Europe when the company won the first place in a plowing contest held in the so called "old continent". Case at this time developed a wide line of products: threshers, binders, graders, water tanks, plows, buggies, and even automobiles.

The advent of oil engines by the turn of the century, suggested a change on the horizon. From Froelich's first tractors to Hart-Parr products, oil tractors seemed the way ahead. Case hired Joe Jagersberger, and he tested a motor by racing in the 1911 Indianapolis 500. Case began production of the 30-60 oil engine in 1912. Case also produced kerosene tractors in the teen years, similar to the Rumely oil pulls. During World War I, Case's sales and demand grew dramatically in Europe. These increases were directly connected to the war; as many farm laborers became soldiers, each remaining farmer must become more productive, and machinery was the way to make this happen.

In 1919, the John Deere Company entered the harvester business, and International Harvester's reply to their new competition was to purchase the P&O Plowing Company of Canton, Illinois, and the Chattanooga Plowing company of Chattanooga, Tennessee. Henry Ford also entered the tractor business with his Fordson Tractor produced at the massive Rouge River plant. During 1923 a so-called "Tractor war" ensued, a four-way struggle between Ford Motor Company, John Deere, Case, and IHC. Ford, with a massive advantage in manufacturing capacity and distribution, had the upper hand, producing an estimated 73 percent of all American tractors, with Case-IHC in a far away second place at nine percent, and several other companies sharing the rest of the percentages. Also in 1923, the IH Farmall entered the agricultural industry. Farmall would later become part of Case IH. That same year also, the 100,000th thresher machine produced by Case made its way out of the assembly line, marking an important milestone for the Case company.

In 1928, another name change came for the company, this time as the J. I. Case Company, while it ceased building its legendary steam engines the year before. Case steam engines, of which over 30,000 were produced, were painted in black with green machinery, while the gas tractors were painted grey. Later in the twentieth century, Case changed its color scheme to orange, with the excavators being a ruddy yellow. By 1929, Case had expanded to Australia, Mexico, Sweden and other countries. Also that year, The J.I. Case Company produced its first crawler tractor. During 1935, Case tested the first WD-40, a diesel tractor, in Nebraska. S and V tractors were introduced in 1940.

Work in the Second World War

Case evolved as World War II arrived, becoming involved in the manufacturing of shells for the United States and allied forces military, as well as airplane parts for the B-26s, and bombs. Three new plants were opened across the United States during that year, and, in 1942, the company produced its first self-propelled combine – a Model 123 SP harvester. That same year, Case released the company's first cotton picker, which is currently preserved by the Smithsonian society.

In 1947, the "C" was dropped from International Harvester's "IHC" logo, with the company using the logo "IH" since. A Farmall factory was opened in Doncaster, United Kingdom. By 1958, the International Harvester company was selling the Model 560 tractor, at that time considered by many farmers to be the latest in farming technology. For the next 31 years, the company went through more globalization, becoming a well-known company in the agricultural markets of Australia, Japan, and other places. Many other companies joined Case during this period.

Modern mergers

In 1984, Case parent Tenneco bought selected assets of the International Harvester agriculture division and merged it with J.I. Case. All agriculture products are first labeled Case International and later Case IH.

In 1996 Austrian tractor builder Steyr Tractor was purchased.

The Case Corporation joined with New Holland N.V. to become CNH, now CNH Global, in November 1999. Because of the merger CNH is forced to release its production plants in Doncaster, England and Winnipeg, Canada. The Doncaster site is bought by the ARGO-group, owner of tractor builder Landini, and brings back the McCormick brand. The plant in Winnipeg is taken over by the Buhler family to start Buhler Tractors.

In Europe the merger with New Holland (including the former Fordson and Fiat tractor lines) was the success Case IH expected. In 2006 Case IH came with a plan to bring back the "International"-feel to their products. They changed their logo, bringing back the old International Harvester logo and made more technical difference between the two brands.


* [ History on Case] - CE website
* [ History on Case] - IH website
* Erb, Dave., Eldon Brumbaugh, and J.I. Case Company (1993). "Full Steam Ahead: J.I. Case Tractors & Equipment 1842-1955". St. Joseph, Michigan: American Society of Agricultural Engineers. ISBN 0929355423
* Stonehouse, Tom, and Eldon Brumbaugh (1996). "JI Case Agricultural & Construction Equipment 1956-1994, Vol. 2" St. Joseph, Michigan: American Society of Agricultural Engineers. ISBN 0929355768
* Wendel, Charles H. (2004). "Encyclopedia of American Farm Implements & Antiques". Iola, Wisconsin: Krause Publications. ISBN 0873495683

ee also

* David Brown Ltd.
* John I. Beggs

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