Farmall tractor

Farmall tractor

The Farmall was the name of a tractor and later a brand name for tractors manufactured by International Harvester. The original Farmall was the first general-purpose tractor with narrowly spaced front wheels. The 'tricycle' front wheel design combined with good ground clearance allowed for more nimble maneuvering and accurate field cultivation than many other tractors of the day, yet the Farmall could perform all the other duties a farmer would have previously achieved using a team of horses.

With the success of the Farmall line, other manufacturers soon introduced similar general-purpose tractors with varying success. As a class, these are generally referred to as 'row crop' tractors.


Farmall and the F-series

The first row crop tractor manufactured by IH was given the name Farmall. Development began around the start of the 1920s, and the new tractor design was introduced in prototype form in 1923. [Klancher, Lee, "Farmall Tractors", MBI Publishing Company (1995) ISBN 0879389869, 9780879389864, p. 36)] As IH management was concerned that the new 'tricycle' type design might turn off customers, the Farmall was initially released only in Texas, in order to minimize potential embarrassment if the design proved to be unsuccessful. However, the new tractor sold well, and by 1926, IH was ready for large-scale production at its new Farmall Works plant in Rock Island, Illinois.cite book | last = Pripps| first = Robert | title = International Harvester Tractor Buyer's Guide | publisher = Motorbooks International | date = 1995| location = Osceola, WI | pages = 46 | isbn = 0-7603-0011-9 ]

In 1932 IH introduced an updated Farmall with a more powerful engine, which received the designation F-20. The F-20 replaced the original Farmall, which became known by the retronym "Regular" (after the introduction of the F-20). IH also added other new tractors to the brand, which became known as the "F-series". These included the F-30 (1931), the F-12 (1932), and the F-14 (1938). All Farmall tractors were painted battleship gray until the mid-1930s, when a decision was made to change to a new color, 'Farmall Red'.

The Letter Series and the Golden Years of IH

The F-series tractors lasted until 1938. In 1939, the famous "Letter series" of Farmall tractors was introduced (A, B, BN, C, H, M, and MD). IH commissioned industrial designer Raymond Loewy to give the new Farmall general-purpose tractors a sleek new streamlined look. Designed for small-to-medium size American farms, IH's new machines offered a wider variety of capabilities, engines, and equipment options. The 'tricyle' type, narrow-spaced front wheel design was retained, as it provided quick steering and a considerable improvement in manuverability over competing tractors such as the Ford 9N.

From prior experience, IH took care to produce a model for almost every farm and every need. The Farmall A, B, and BN offered compact size, operator visibility, and maneuverability; the C and M series provided extra plowing capability and power, while the mid-sized Model H proved most popular with customers. The 'MD' Farmall offered a diesel engine, the first to appear in IH tractors. Sales took off, and letter-series production did not end until 1954. Overall, the Farmall 'letter' series, built of the heaviest-duty materials available, became not only a defining product line in IH history, but a iconic symbol of the prototypical American small-farm tractor. Many machines (especially the two largest models, the H and M) are still in operation on farms today.

In 1947, the smallest tractor in the Farmall line was introduced, the Cub. With a 60 cu. in. four-cylinder engine and a 69-inch wheelbase, the Cub was aimed at small farms such as truck farms, horse farms, and other small acreages that had previously continued to rely on horse-drawn equipment. But the Cub also sold to owners of larger farms who required a second tractor. Production of the Cub commenced at the newly-acquired Farmall Works-Louisville plant (formerly the wartime Curtiss-Wright Aircraft factory in Louisville, Kentucky) which was expanded, remodeled and reequipped. Selling for $545.00 in 1947, the Cub proved extremely popular, and the original design continued in production without significant alteration for many years.

The "Letter series" tractors were updated to the "Super series" in 1952 (with the exception of the A, which became a "Super" in 1947, and the B and BN, which were determined to be redundant, and discontinued in 1948). Though the "Super series" received improvements, these tractors largely followed the design of their predecessors, and like them, were built to last.

Letters to Numbers

In 1955, the numbered or so-called "Hundred series" tractors appeared. The "Hundred series" models used numbers instead of letters to identify the model. The new models were given slightly different looks and a few new features, but were still essentially the famed "Letter series" tractors. The Farmall Cub continued unchanged, but in 1955 a new 'low-boy' version was added, featuring a shortened 62.5-inch wheelbase and a frame eight inches lower than the regular Cub tractor, which improved the machine's center of gravity. 1956 saw the introduction of the IH Model 350, which offered engines using a variety of commonly available fuels: gasoline, diesel, or LP-gas. The diesel engine version had a direct-start feature, and could be started and run using only diesel fuel. [, "Farmall 350 Tractor Data"] In 1957, IH again gave the tractor lineup an overhaul. Although the basic design was still not changed to any significant degree, new white paint was added to the front grille and sides, new engines were introduced, and new number designations were added. Although the new tractors did improve sales, IH's innate conservatism and reluctance to update their tractor line in response to changing times was becoming apparent. cite book| last = Updike| first = Kenneth| authorlink = Kenneth Updike| title = International Harvester Tractors 1955-1985| publisher =MBI Publishing| date = 2000| location = Osceola, WI| isbn = 0-7603-0682-6 ]

60 Series Recall and Later Production

At the Hinsdale, Illinois Testing Farm in July 1958, IH entertained over 12,000 dealers from over 25 countries. IH showed off their new "60 series" of tractors: including the first of their kind, large six-cylinder 460 and 560 models. But the excitement caused by the new introduction was short-lived. In June of that year, IH recalled the 460, 560, and 660 tractors after reports of mechanical breakdown in the field. IH, who wanted to be the first big-power tractor manufacturer, had inexplicably failed to substantially enlarge and re-engineer critical drive components on the new six-cylinder tractors. The tractors' final drives, which were essentially made up of unaltered model "M" components, failed rapidly under the stress of the more powerful "60 series" tractor engines. IH's competitors took advantage of the recall, and IH lost customers in the ensuing months.

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, IH would introduce new tractors and new methods of marketing, but conservative management, an unwieldy corporate organization, and a policy of in-house promotions tended to stifle new ideas and technical innovation at the company. ["Hoover's Profile: Navistar International Corporation"] As tractor production was a mainstay of the company, IH realized they would have to modernize and re-engineer their tractor line, lowering costs where possible in order to remain competitive. The massive boilerplate frame and iron housings of the old IH tractors were slowly phased out for lighter, less-expensive components. The streamlined exterior of the earlier tractors was replaced by straighter, more angular lines, updating the look and requiring less-complicated equipment to manufacture. The new machines also became vastly more complex, though easier to operate. Bowing to inevitable sales pressure and bitter price competition from other manufacturers, IH tractors, while still well-made, could no longer be relied upon to last indefinitely.

tandard, Industrial, Utility, and Other Models

Many Farmall tractor models have one or more mechanically similar models under another IH brand designed for other uses, such as industrial, utility, orchard, or wheatland use. These models have lower ground clearance and a wider front axle. During the "Letter series" era, these alternate models were sold under the McCormick-Deering brand; later models were badged with the International brand. Some examples include:

* Farmall H -- McCormick-Deering W-4 Standard -- McCormick-Deering I-4 Industrial
* Farmall 300 -- International 300 Utility
* Farmall 450 -- International W450 Wheatland
* Farmall 656 -- International 656 Row-Crop -- International 656 Utility

The International 656 Row-Crop tractor was a bit of an anomaly until International dropped the Farmall brand, in that it combined some of the customary features of a Farmall (such as an adjustable wheel width) with a utility tractor.

End of an era

By 1973, IH had officially dropped the 'Farmall' name from its new tractor models. The announcement ended an era that began with the first Farmall "Regular" back in 1924. However, the Farmall nameplate continued to appear on new 1974 and 1975 tractors until the factories exhausted their inventory of obsolescent name badges.cite book | title = The Field Guide to Farmall Tractors | last = Pripps | first = Robert | pages = 160 | isbn = 0-89658-558-1 | publisher = Voyageur Press | date = 2004 | location = St. Paul, MN ]

On February 1, 1974, at 9:00 A.M., the 5,000,000th IH tractor came off the assembly line at the Farmall Works plant in Rock Island, Illinois. IH was the first tractor manufacturer to accomplish this.

Model list and power ratings

Generally tractors were marketed by the number of 16" width plows they could pull in average soil to indicate their power. Here is a list of plow ratings (see footnotes) for all Farmall tractors produced for North America:

* 1-plow: Cub (12" width or less), A, Super A, B, BN, 100, 130, 140
* 2-plow (14"): F-12, F-14, C, Super C, 200, 230, 240, 404
* 2-plow (16"): Regular, F-20, H, Super H, 340, 504
* 3-plow: F-30, M, MD, super MD, Super M, Super M-TA, 300, 350, 400, 450, 544
* 4 plow and up: 460, 560, 656, 666, 70 Hydro, 706, 756, 766, 786, 806, 826, 856, 966, 1026, 1066, 100 Hydro, 1206, 1256, 1456, 1466, 1468, 1566, 1568.

*1. Plow ratings are general plowing abilities dependent upon soil conditions.
*2. Depending on the plow width used, a three-plow tractor could handle a four- or five-bottom plow.
*3. Engine size was sometimes upgradeable. For example, in the 1950s and 60s it was very popular to upgrade the Super M-TA and 400 model 264 cid engine to 281 cid. An economical cylinder sleeve and piston change was all that was needed. This brought the power level up to that of the 450 model.

There were also some Farmall models unique to the European market: DF-25 (comparable to the H), DGD4 (comparable to the Super H), BMD (British MD) and B-450 (British 450). These models all utilized direct-start diesel engines.

Production Information

The Farmall Cub, A, B, 100, 130, and 140 models had the seat offset from the engine, allowing the operator to look directly at the ground under the tractor. This feature was called "Culti-Vision" because it was created to give the operator an excellent view of the cultivator teeth as they cultivated the vegetable row. ("Cultivating" in this context refers to breaking up the soil next to the vegetable row, which kills weeds by uprooting them and/or burying their leaves).

The Farmall A and B used a sliding-gear 4-speed transmission, while the larger, more powerful Farmall M was fitted with a 5-speed transmission. The extra gears of the Farmall tractors helped maximize the engine's power band, giving a sales advantage over the competition.

IH "Farmall Red" became the standard Farmall tractor color after 1936, and was used through the 1970s. The only factory color variations known are "Highway Yellow" (generally used for municipalities), "Demonstrator White", used for dealer demo models during the 1950s, and "Demonstrator Gold" - actually a red-and-gold color scheme used only during the International Demonstrator program in 1970. While Farmalls in other shades are known to exist, these were most likely owner-painted, or else painted by the IH dealer at owner request.

The first Farmall tractor with an optional diesel engine was the Model MD. Like many agriculture equipment diesel engines of the time, it was not a direct-start diesel; the operator started the tractor on gasoline, then manually switched to diesel fuel after warming up the combustion chamber. The Super MD, 400, and 450 diesels used the same engine design as the MD, but with larger displacement (more cubic inches). The next Farmall tractor to offer diesel power was the Model 350, which appeared in 1956 and came with a variety of engine fuel options: gas, diesel, and LP gas. The 350's optional direct-start diesel engine was built by Continental Motors, and was IH's first diesel model that could be started and operated using only diesel fuel (no gasoline). IH subsequently developed their own line of new direct-start diesel engines for the 460 and 560 tractors.

The "Torque Amplifier" (TA), first introduced on the Super M in 1954, was an extra low-range gear ratio (comparable to the two-speed rear drive on a commercial truck) that allowed for a quick downshift without using the clutch to gain torque at the drive wheels. The TA model was then called Super M-TA. The TA became an option on the model 300 and larger tractors after 1955.

The "Fast Hitch" was IH's answer to the three-point hitch developed years earlier by Harry Ferguson, and featured on Ford-Ferguson tractors. [Ford-Ferguson Tractor] The Fast Hitch was first offered as an option on the Super C. Fast Hitch was then an option on the 100, 200, 300, and 400 and some later models. However, even the Fast Hitch had three incompatible variants (100—single prong, 200—two small prongs, 300/400—two large prongs). IH discontinued the Fast Hitch in the 1960s after the three-point hitch was standardized and adopted by all manufacturers. There are kits available from a variety of sources that will either convert a Fast Hitch to a three-point, or add a three-point hitch to tractors that originally only had a fixed drawbar.

International Harvester was one of the earliest manufacturers to provide a stepless transmission in a row crop tractor. Introduced first as an option on 656 and 544 tractors, the hydrostatic transmission would become a defining feature of the 70 Hydro and 100 Hydro models.

Production facts

* From 1924 until 1963, Farmalls were the largest selling row crop tractors.
*The Farmall H, produced from 1939 to 1952, became the second top selling individual tractor model of all time in North America with over 390,000 sold. Only the Ford 8n (due to its exclusive Ferguson Three Point Hitch system) was a better seller.
* The Farmall Cub (later re-named International Cub) remained in production the longest (from 1947 until 1979) with minor updates in engineering & design.
* Culti-Vision proved to be IH's longest-lived engineering feature, staying in production from 1939 - 1979.
* A few clever mechanics have created 'homebrew' IH models, the so-called Super H-TA (Super H with Torque Amplifier), Super HD (Super H Diesel), and F-16 tractors. However, IH itself never manufactured such models.cite web | title = Farm Collector magazine, Nov. 2004
url =
* The Farmall Works plant in Rock Island, Illinois first opened in 1926. The last IH tractor, a Model 5488, was built there on May 14, 1985. International's Agriculture Equipment Division was sold to Tenneco the prior year, in 1984.
* Case IH has revived the Farmall brand on some of their latest tractors.
* The Hydro 1066 had less drawbar power than the gear-drive 1066, leading to the creation of the Hydro 100.
*International Harvester Farmall Regular specs:

Production: 1924-1932 Length: 136" Width: 86" Height: 67" Weight: 3950

Belt Hp: 20.05 Draw bar Hp: 13.27 Maximum Pull: 2728 Number of Plows: 2

Fuel Efficiency: 9.64 Engine: IHC 4 Cylinder Displacement: 220.9 Bore: 3.750 Stroke: 5.000

Rpm: 1200 Magneto: E4-A or Dixie Aero Air Cleaner: Vortox 118 or IHC Carburetor: Ensign R or IHC

Pulley Size: 14x6.5 Pulley Rpm: 693 Pto Diameter: 1.125 Pto Rpm: 535

Forward Speeds: 2, 3, 4 Reverse Speeds: 2.75

Front Tires: Steel Rear Tires Steel

ee also

*International Harvester
*List of International Harvester vehicles
*List of former tractor manufacturers


* Klancher, L., "Farmall", MBI, 2004, ISBN 0-7603-1846-8
* Leffingwell, R., "International Harvester Tractors", MBI, 1999, ISBN 0-7603-0423-8
* Fay, G., "Farmall Tractors in the 1950's", MBI, 2000, ISBN 0-7603-0762-8
* Fay, G. & Kraushaar, A., "Original Farmall Hundred Series 1954-1958", MBI, 2003, ISBN 0-7603-0856-X

External links

* [ Restored Farmall Photos]
* [ Case IH]
* [ Farmall Cub]
* [ Red Power Magazine]

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