Category Archives: Haying

Articles which mention the farming process of hay making.

The “Larson” Bundle Wagon

                                                The Larson Hayrack/Bundle Wagon

by

Brian Wayne Wells

(As published in the March-April 1996 issue of Belt Pulley magazine.)

The rear end of the light weight Larson wagon can be seen on theleft in this picture as opposed to the heavier construction of a traditional wood beam bundle wagon in the summer of .
This rear view of the light-weight “Larson” wagon on the left side of the feeder of Ira Whitney’s 28″ Case thresher during the summer of 1942, contrasts markedly with the traditional heavy wood construction of wagon on the right.

Threshing shows are appealing because of the opportunity they offer to step back into the past.  At these shows, most public attention is usually given to the threshing machines being powered by an un-styled tractor of the pre-World War II era as opposed to a styled tractor from the post-war era.  When un-styled tractors are used, amateur photographers can often position themselves away from the crowd and take pictures that look like they could have been taken in the 1930s.  Anything that adds a 1930s touch to a threshing scene will appeal to the public.

Generally, at the LeSueur County Pioneer Power Show in LeSueur, Minnesota only modern hayracks built for hauling bales have been employed for hauling bundles of grain to the threshers.  These hayracks, with their rubber tires and lack of side supports and front standards, are of a design that definitely date from the post-World War II baled-hay era.  In recent years, one touch that added authenticity to the threshing scene at the LeSueur Show, was the bundle wagon built by Dennis Waskovsky of Faribualt, Minnesota.  The Waskovsky bundle wagon, with its steel wheels, side supports, and front and rear standards, was a definite addition to the show.  Because it was the only authentic bundle wagon at the LeSueur Show, the Waskovsky wagon was moved from thresher to thresher to allow authentic photos to be taken.

Currently, there is a definite need for more “pre-war” style bundle wagons.  To make the matter even more urgent, the Waskovsky wagon was heavily damaged at the 1995 Show when a strong gust of wind picked it up and flipped it over on its top.  Although Dennis Waskovsky is rebuilding the bundle wagon, interest was kindled for the addition of other genuine bundle wagons.  One such bundle wagon which could be built is the “Larson wagon.”

Not much is known about Mr. Larson, the man who designed the wagon.  Indeed, even Mr. Larson’s first name has been lost over the period of time since he was last contacted by members of the Hanks family in 1935.

The Larson wagon had a good reputation in Faribault county and southern Blue Earth County, Minnesota, as being a very strong and dependable hayrack/bundle wagon.  Building a Larson wagon would not only serve to add authenticity to the LeSueur County Pioneer Power Show, but would preserve another small part of the history of rural Faribault and Blue Earth Counties.

The story of the Larson wagon first intersects with the family of Fred Marshall Hanks starting in 1919.  Fred Marshall Hanks had farmed his parents’ farm in Verona Township, Faribault County, near Winnebago, Minnesota, since the untimely death of his father on January 11, 1916.  Indeed, he had gradually taken over more and more of the operation of the farm long before that time.  He had married Jeanette More Ogilvie from Pilot Grove Township in Faribault County on October 13, 1889, and together they moved into the Hanks farm house with his parents.  They had a son, Howard Bruce Hanks, on October 7, 1895.  Three other sons would follow: John Stanley, on July 27, 1902; Harlan David, on February 21, 1905; and Kenneth Warner, on December 16, 1908.  The Hanks family operated a diversified farm, like most others in Verona Township, raising oats, wheat, corn, and hay.  The livestock consisted of a milking herd, sheep, hogs, and chickens.  Fred Marshall’s father was a master at woodworking, and put this skill to work in a profitable way, building many of the barns in Verona Township and the surrounding area.  In 1900, the Hanks family purchased the 40-acre Baldwin farm which bordered the Hanks farm to the east and moved the Baldwin barn to the Hanks farm building site where it became the “bull barn.”  The Baldwin house was also moved to the Hanks farm where it became a woodworking shop.

Fred Marshall Hanks was a believer in the ability of the Milking Shorthorn breed to provide both good dairy cows and good beef cattle.

 

Fred Marshall was not interested in woodworking, as was his father.  His interest was consumed in farming.  He loved farming and was constantly looking for ways to improve his methods of farming.  In 1900, as he began to assume more responsibilities of the farm, Fred Marshall gradually began changing the dairy from a cross-bred herd to a purebred Polled Shorthorn herd, schooling himself on the proper traits to develop in an animal for purebred livestock.  A 1904 advertising card (which still exists in the possession of Fred’s son Harlan Hanks) shows that by 1904 Fred Marshall was not only raising his own stock, but was selling purebred Polled Shorthorn cattle and purebred Duroc hogs to other farmers in the area.  By 1910, his reputation had grown to the point that buyers of purebred cattle and/or purebred hogs showed up on the Hanks farm on a regular basis from across the nation to buy breeding stock.

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By 1910, visitors to the Fred Marshall Hanks farm in rural Winnebago, Minnesota.

One day in 1919, a farmer by the name of Larson, from Frost, Minnesota, arrived on the Hanks farm to buy one of the purebred Polled Shorthorn bulls.  During the conversation, Mr. Larson divulged that he had devised a new design for a horse-drawn hayrack/bundle wagon.  His “Larson” hayracks were made with curved pieces of metal which served as supports for the sides of the hayrack.  These metal supports connected the sides of the hayrack with the floor.

The sides of earlier hayrack/bundle wagon had been supported by 2 x 4 vertical pieces of wood which were attached to the floor of the wagon.  When this design was found to be too flimsy, diagonal pieces of wood were added to the vertical sides, connecting the sides to the floor at two separate locations about a foot from the outside edge, thus making the wagon stronger because of the triangle that was formed by the support with the floor of the wagon.  However, these diagonals interfered with the men working inside the hayrack unloading loose hay or bundles of wheat or oats with a pitchfork.  The solution to this problem, followed by some hayrack designs, was to have the vertical side supports protrude beneath the level of the floor of the hayrack and to connect the triangulation diagonals from the bottoms of the vertical side supports to the underside of the floor of the hayrack.  The bothersome diagonals were then under the floor of the rack.  This was a better design, but still farmers found that the side supports interfered with any work that had to be done under the wagon, such as removing a wheel on the wagon gear to grease the axle.  The metal supports in the Larson-designed hayrack were the key to the design that made the Larson hayrack/bundle wagon unique.  They eliminated the need for any triangulation support either above or beneath the floor of the hayrack.  This made for a much lighter and cleaner designed hayrack.

Based on this design with the metal supports, Mr. Larson made hayracks for use on his own farm.  His neighbors, having seen the benefits of his design, had requested that he build hayracks of the same style for them or that he provide them with the metal supports so that they could build the hayracks themselves.  As a consequence, the Larson design became quite popular around the Frost area of Faribault County.  Continue reading The “Larson” Bundle Wagon

Case Farming Part V: Decline of the LeRoy Equipment Company

J.I. Case Company Part V:

The Decline of the LeRoy Equipment Company

by

Brian Wayne Wells

 (As Published in the September/October 2006 issue of Belt Pulley magazine.)

During the post-World War II period, the Case Model DC tractor remained the most popular selling tractor of the entire Case line of tractors. However with the labor strike which happened at the Main Works factor in Racine Wisconsin, the LeRoy Equipment Company was unable to obtain any tractors for the inventory of their dealership
During the post-World War II period, the Case Model DC tractor remained the most popular selling tractor of the entire Case line of tractors.

As noted previously (see the article called J.I. Case Company Part IV: the Rise of the Le Roy Equipment Company contained in the July/August 2006 issue of Belt Pulley Magazine), two newly discharged veterans of the Second World War formed a partnership to accept the business opportunity of starting a new Case Company dealership in the small town of LeRoy, Minnesota (1940 pop. 752).  Before the war, LeRoy, Minnesota had been the home of a Case dealership called the “LeRoy Equipment Company.”  However, during the Second World War, the dealership had disbanded.  Now the J. I. Case Company wanted to re-establish the “LeRoy Equipment Company” in order to take advantage of the expected boom in post-war demand for modern farm machinery.  Two veterans, Merle Krinke and Duane Wetter, both originally from the small town of Lamberton located in western Minnesota, had expressed interest in this business venture.

Duane and Merle had known each other at Lamberton High School.  Furthermore, ever since April 8, 1944 when Merle Krinke married Duane’s sister, Zona Wetter, Duane and Merle had been brother-in laws.

Merle had been discharged from the Army Air Corp at the end of the war in the Pacific in September of 1945.  Since that time, Merle had been employed at the Myhere and Nelson Implement dealership, a local  Case franchise dealership in Montevideo, Minnesota.  Montevideo was a small town located on the South Dakota border with Minnesota, northwest of Lamberton.  It was at Myhere and Nelson that Merle had first heard about the opportunity of starting the dealership in Le Roy.

During the war, Duane Wetter had served as a decorated fighter pilot in U.S. Army Air Corp and had flown 75 combat missions in the European theater.  Since the end of the war in Europe in May of 1945, he had been stationed in Stuttgart Germany as part of the U.S. occupation forces.  He was discharged in November of 1945.  Scarcely had he returned to his wife and young son in Minnesota, than he was asked to make the decision to join in a partnership with Merle and move off to LeRoy with his whole family.  Le Roy was located in the southeastern corner of Mower County, just ½ mile from the Iowa border.  This was a long way from Lamberton, Minnesota.  Nonetheless, a decision about the starting the dealership in LeRoy, Minnesota needed to be made as soon as possible by the two veterans.  They would re-establish the dealership under the name “LeRoy Equipment Company” to take advantage of the good will that had been formed by the pre-war dealership of the same name.  Continue reading Case Farming Part V: Decline of the LeRoy Equipment Company

The 1936 Loren Helmbrecht Farmall F-12 (Part II)

The Farmall F-12: The 1936 Loren Helmbrecht Tractor (Part II)

by

Brian Wayne Wells

As published in the July/August 2003 issue of

Belt Pulley Magazine

A newly restored 1936 Farmall F-12 with red wheels much like No. 65999.

As we have noted on a previous occasion, the 1936 F-12 bearing the Serial No. 65999 could well have been sold from Dingman Hardware, the International Harvester dealership in the town of Clear Lake, Minnesota (1930 pop. 242).  (See the May/June 2003 issue of Belt Pulley magazine for the article called “The Farmall F-12: The 1935 Minnesota State Fair.”)  No. 65999 had been sold to a dairy farmer living in Sherburne County, Minnesota, and in Palmer Township of that county.  Our Palmer Township farmer had put the tractor to use in the spring of 1936.  It had been a very cold, record breaking winter, especially January and February of 1936.  Indeed, Cedric Adams on WCCO radio out of the Twin Cities (Minneapolis and St. Paul) had reported that the temperature had never risen above 0° for a total of 36 straight days during that period of time.  However the cold weather broke in late February and except for another cold snap in early April, the temperature had evened off into a very nice planting season.  (Downtown Minneapolis Daily Maximum and Minimum Temperatures for 1936 from the Internet.)

An interested farmer looks at a Farmall F-12 at a local IHC dealership with the salesman close at hand to answer any questions about the tractor.

 

That spring our Palmer Township farmer was putting No. 65999 to use in a number of different tasks around his farm.  He had shortened the hitches on much of the horse-drawn machinery on his farm that spring.  It always seemed to be handier to start the little F-12 than to get the Belgian horses all harnessed up just to complete even small tasks on the farm.  His records were also reflecting that use of the tractor was actually proving more economical in the long run than using the horses for the same tasks.  He wished to see just how much of the work on the farm could be accomplished by the little dark gray tractor.  Now he used the horses only during the days when his second daughter was able to help out with the field work.  She was becoming quite an expert at driving the tractor.  As always, she wanted to be involved with whatever her father was doing.  Thus, while she was preparing the seed bed with the tractor, her father was using the horses to plant the corn.

A newly restored McCormick-Deering 2-row horse-drawn corn planter which has had its tongue shortened to allow easier use with a farm tractor.

 

While she was in School during May of that year, he used the tractor to plant the rest of the corn.  He wanted to see if the tractor was truly the “farm all” that it was advertised to be. It was not because No. 65999 performed the farm tasks at a faster rate of speed than horses that made the tractor more profitable.  Even at top speed (3-3/4 mph) the little tractor was no faster than a horse.  Rather it was the stamina of the tractor as opposed to the horses that made the F-12 profitable and 1936 was the year that our Palmer Township farmer was to prove the economy of tractor power as opposed to horse power in this regard.

The small hand pump on the bottom of this J.J. Groetken advertisement is the hand pump used by our Palmer Township farmer.

 

Shortly after he had planted his corn in the spring of 1936, he finished up his morning milking.  After letting the cows out of the barn, he went to the machine shed to get the tractor and manure spreader.  He always tried to park the tractor close to the two 55 gallon barrels that he now had in the machine shed.  These barrels, sitting upright, were filled with kerosene for the tractor.  One barrel had the bung plug removed.  Screwed into the bung hole was the J.J. Groetken Pump Co. barrel hand pump which he had purchased at an auction at a neighbors farm.   (Jack Sim, An Illustrated Guide to GasPumps [Krause Pub.: Iola, Wisc., 2002] p. 190.)  The Groetken Pump Co. had ceased advertising in 1927.  Clearly, he would not be able to replace the pump or finds parts for the hand pump once it wore out.  However, the hand pump seemed to be working so far and the price he had paid was very reasonable.  He would worry about the demise of the hand pump when it happened.  The Groetken hand pump had a hose attached to the outlet nozzle of the pump.  He put unscrewed the cap to the opening on top of the fuel tank of the tractor.  Inserting the hose and observing the level of the fuel in the tractor tank he began turning the crank on the hand pump with his other hand.

After filling the 13-gallon tank sufficiently, he unscrewed cap on what appeared to be another opening to the same tank.  Actually, this was an opening into a second smaller compartment within the fuel tank.  This one-gallon compartment held the gasoline that was used to get the tractor started.  From a partially filled five-gallon gas can, he had in the machine shed he filled this little tank with the more expensive gasoline.  Then he took an 8” Crescent wrench from the work bench located nearby and opened the plug on the fuel line vent which protruded through the hood of the little tractor just above the engine.  By opening the valve at the bottom of the fuel bowl, he let all the kerosene out of the carburetor and the fuel line.  Then he reached back under the fuel tank and turned off the fuel coming from the kerosene tank and turned on the valve leading from the gasoline tank.

The 13-gallon fuel tank on the gasoline F-12/F-14 farm tractor.

 

With a bit of gasoline from the five-gallon can, he now poured gasoline down the gasoline vent and replaced the plug.  The engine was now all primed to start and start it did after one pull upwards on the crank with the choke on and another upwards pull with the choke off the tractor came to life.  This certainly was faster than harnessing up the horses. He backed the tractor out shed and turned it around and hitched it to the New Idea Model 8 manure spreader and headed to the barn.  (For a discussion of the New Idea No. 8 and a history of the New Idea Company, see the article “The New Idea Spreader Company of Coldwater , Ohio” contained in the September/October 1998 issue of Belt Pulley magazine, p. 14.)

 

Case No. 3 horse-drawn manure spreader.

Continue reading The 1936 Loren Helmbrecht Farmall F-12 (Part II)

The Willmar Thrun 1937 John Deere Model B (Short Frame) Tractor (Part II)

The Mankato Implement Dealership (Part 2 of 2 Parts):

     Wilmar Thrun 1937 John Deere Model B (Short Frame) Tractor

by

Brian Wayne Wells

As published in the May/June 2002 issue of

Belt Pulley Magazine

In the spring of 1937, a farmer living in Rapidan Township in Blue Earth County, Minnesota, started working in the fields of his 80-acre farm with his newly purchased John Deere Model B tractor bearing the serial number 34081.  Just the previous February he and his family had attended the annual open house at the Mankato Implement Company the local John Deere dealership located in Mankato, Minnesota.  (See the March/April 2002 issue of Belt Pulley Vol. 15, No. 2, p. 16 for the history of the Mankato Implement Company dealership and story of the 1937 open house.)  At the open house, our Rapidan Township farmer had acted on a dream that had occupied his thoughts for some time.  He had purchased his first farm tractor.

Being a tractor that was manufactured prior to Serial No. 42200, No. 34081 was one of the “short frame” John Deere Model B tractors.  Our Raidan Township farmer found that No. 34081 was a vast improvement for his farm in all seasons.  However as time passed he found that some improvements were needed to the tractor.  As noted in the earlier article in this series, our Rapidan Township farmer replaced the seat on No. 34081 with an after-market Easy-Ride seat.  The Easy Ride seat was made by the Monroe Automobile Equipment Manufacturing Company of Monroe, Michigan and was composed of a large coil spring and a Monroe shock absorber.  The Easy Ride seat was much more comfortable than the original John Deere seat—especially on a tractor with steel wheels and 3” high lugs.  As noted in the earlier article in this series, International Harvester had begun installing the Easy Ride seat on its Farmall tractors in 1939.  The seat was a factory-installed option and became such a commonly requested option on the Farmall “letter-series” tractors—the Model M and Model H etc.—that the Easy Ride seat might just as well been standard equipment.

Although no evidence exists that the Monroe Easy Ride seat was ever a factory-installed option for John Deere tractors.  However as noted previously, a surprising number of un-styled and early styled Model B tractors were fitted with the Monroe seat.  Accordingly, it is not surprising that our Rapidan Township farmer had No. 34081 fitted with the Easy Ride seat which he purchased from a third-party short-line farm tractor parts business in Mankato.  When he purchased the Monroe seat, he found that the seat had already been painted green in color for John Deere buyers.  The Monroe Easy Ride certainly made No. 34081 much smoother to ride.

When the United States became involved in the Second World War, our Rapidan Township farmer found that prices for his farm products rose higher than he had ever remembered.  No. 34081 sped up his ability to complete the field work on his farm.  Because of this increase in efficiency, he was able to take full advantage of all the arrable land on his farm planting from “hedgerow to hedgerow” for the war effort.  He even was able to add a couple of cows to his milking herd of Holsteins.  With a modern tractor-powered and, by now, electrified farm our Rapidan Township farmer was well positioned to take full advantage of the of the rise in prices which accompanied the nation’s attempt to feed the armies around the world.  The John Deere Model B, now with rubber tires on the front wheels worked very well for him all through the Second World War.  During this period, he found that the tractor allowed him to complete much more field work each day than in the past and he was still able to get the milking done at a decent hour in the evening.

By his figuring, in the new environment of higher farm prices, our Rapidan Township farmer figured that the tractor had paid for itself many times over by the time that the war ended.  Now, with the return of peace in 1945, he, like the rest of his neighbors, now thought of trying to upgrade the tractor further by putting rubber tires on the rear of the tractor.

The most popular way of converting the rear wheels to rubber tires was to have a local blacksmith shop cutting the flat spokes of the steel wheels and removing the steel band on the outside of the wheel and then welding on a new rim designed for rubber tires.  Local blacksmith shops all across the Midwest were doing a brisk business in the post-war era in cutting down steel wheels and welding on tire rims.  Indeed, just seven miles south in Good Thunder, Minnesota, the welding shop owned by Dick Scheur was doing a good deal of this work.  To our Rapidan Township farmer having the steel wheels cut down seemed the most prudent way to mount rubber tires on the rear of his tractor.  Consequently, in the early spring of 1946, just as the last traces of snow left in the ditches and shady areas, our Rapidan Township farmer placed No. 34081 securely up on blocks and removed both rear wheels.  He loaded the steel wheels into the back of his new 1946 Chevrolet pickup and headed out his driveway and down the township road toward County Road No. 9.  It certainly wasn’t cold enough for the heater to be turned on.  Indeed he reached up and turned the little crank o the center of the dash board that opened the bottom of the windshield.  He opened the bottom of the windshield just a crack to let in some fresh air.  His new pickup was one of the “Art Deco” Chevrolet pickups which had a great deal of chrome running up and down the front grill.  It was a design that had appealed to him ever since these Art Deco trucks had been introduced in 1941.  Continue reading The Willmar Thrun 1937 John Deere Model B (Short Frame) Tractor (Part II)

The Case Model NCM Baler and a Family’s Crucial Year

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The Case Model NCM baler and a Family’s Crucial Year

by

Brian Wayne Wells

As published in the January/February 1995 issue of

Belt Pulley Magazine

Case color advertisement 2

            As related in an earlier article, the Howard Hanks family had moved to LeRoy, Minnesota from Mapleton, Minnesota in 1945.  “The Wartime Farmall H,” Belt Pulley, July/August 1994, Vol. 7, No. 4, p. 13.  They had purchased the big 400-acre Bagan farm five miles east of LeRoy, Minnesota.  The payments on the newly-purchased farm were a big concern.  The expense involved with moving a family from a renting operation to ownership of a farm was no small matter.  Then there were the usual expenses entailed in raising a large family.  Furthermore, three of the oldest Hanks children were planning to be married in 1947.  What the family needed was a period of normalcy to consolidate their financial position; however, as 1946 ended, it looked as though the family was not going to get that period of normalcy.  The Second World War had ended and prices for farm products had fallen.  On the other hand, wartime price controls had ended and farm equipment prices immediately climbed.  Then, too, there was the weather.

The fall of 1946 harvest season was very wet.  The family had to borrow a Farmall M which belonged to Reuben Jacobson just to pull the big John Deere No. 7 combine through the soggy soybean fields.  The Hanks’ 1942 Farmall H, with its new cut down steel rear wheels which were now fitted with rims and rubber tires, was unable to pull the combine as it had in the fall of 1945.  The Reuben Jacobson Farmall M had wheel weights and fluid in the tires and thus was used to harvest soybeans on the home farm, as well as for all of the custom work.

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The rains started in the fall of 1946. During the fall harvest that year the Hanks family had to borrow a Farmall model M tractor to pull the large John Deere No. 7 combine through the mud of the soybean field that year.

 

The rain continued throughout the fall of 1946, and in the spring of 1947 it started again with a vengeance.  By the time of the first wedding that year (Bruce Hanks and Mary Keller on April 2), the ground was a quagmire.  Even the roads were a mess, and the farm tractors were employed to help negotiate these roads.

More rain came all through the spring and early summer.  Field work had to be delayed to the point where the situation began to look grim.  By the time of the second family wedding that year (Lorraine Hanks and Robert Westfall on June 25), it was clear that even the garden had failed because of the continuing rain.  As with most families of the time, gardening was not a mere hobby, but was a real source of food for the family.  The failure of the garden meant that household expenses would be just that much higher for the summer and for the following winter.

The oldest son, Fred Hanks, who had been serving in the United States Army in Italy, arrived home just in time for the second wedding on June 25.  He was shocked to find that the soybeans were not yet entirely planted, even at this late date!  The family did not complete planting soybeans until July 6.  They felt as though planting soybeans so late in the season would be a waste of time and money, and 1947 was showing every sign of being a make-or-break year for the family.  In addition, they were counting on the income that would be derived from custom combining in the neighborhood, and prospects for that income were not good unless the rain stopped.

The third family wedding that year (Marilyn Hanks and Wayne Wells) was held on July 12.  Howard and Ethel Hanks, parents of the bride, were hosting the reception at their house on the Hanks farm.  Ethel Buck Hanks, mother of the bride, was distressed that she did not have any crystal or a matched set of glassware to make the reception dinner a formal affair, and the family’s dire straits held no promise that there would be money for even such a small luxury as this.  However, Howard went uptown and negotiated with the proprietor of the hardware store to borrow a set of gobbets and a matching set of sherbet stemware.  This crystal would be used for the reception, then packaged up again and returned to the store.  Ethel was extremely pleased with the goblets and sherbet stemware when Howard brought it home several days prior to the wedding.  Ethel carefully unpacked the gobbets and sherbet stemware and washed each piece in preparation for the wedding reception.  Following the wedding reception, she carefully washed each piece, wrapped it and sadly placed it back into the box for the journey back to town.

The new son-in-law, Wayne Wells, had taken over the farming operation on the 160-acre farm owned by his father, George Wells, which was two miles to the west of the Hanks farm.  Wayne Wells and the Hanks family were planning to cooperate in some farming activities, i.e., corn planting and haying.  They anticipated putting the loose hay in the barn as they had in past years; however, Wayne, who had been thinking of new ways to improve the efficiency of the farming operation, explored the possibility of baling the hay for storage in the barn.  He also saw the possibilities of doing custom baling in the neighborhood.  Many of the same farmers who paid to have their oats and soybeans combined may also pay to have their hay and straw baled.  Since there were very few pickup balers in the neighborhood, the Wells and Hanks families would have a monopoly on the whole market.  Furthermore, with daughter Hildreth, age 17, and son John, age 12, still living at home on the Hanks farm, Bruce and Mary living on the Tony Machovec farm about 1/2 mile south of the Hanks farm, and with Fred’s return from the Army, there would be more than sufficient people to outfit a baling crew and still keep up with the chores.

The Hanks family was receptive to the suggestion of purchasing a baler in hopes of earning extra income from custom baling.  Later, they saw an advertisement for a used Case NCM baler.  In the middle of the rainy summer, it seemed like a gamble considering all of the other pressing concerns.  However, as the old saying goes, “You have to spend money to make money.”  They decided to act. Continue reading The Case Model NCM Baler and a Family’s Crucial Year

A 1950 Massey-Harris Model 22

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Forty Years with the Massey Harris 22

by

Brian Wayne Wells

As published in the March/April 1994 issue of

Belt Pulley Magazine

Volume 7, Number 2

Massey-Harris 22 in parade at Racine, Minnesota 1993

As was noted elsewhere (The Belt Pulley, January/February 1994, Vol. 7, No. 1), the Howard B. Hanks family moved to the current Fred J. Hanks farm in LeRoy, Minnesota, in 1945.  In those days, the 400-acre farm was known as the “Bagan farm.”  As mentioned in the above-cited article, one of the restored tractors which are still used on the farm is a 1950 Massey-Harris 22.  (Serial No. GR6729).  Of all the tractors on the farm, the 22 has been there the longest time.

The 22 was purchased as a used tractor by the Hanks family from an International Harvester dealership in Austin, Minnesota, in 1954, and was put to immediate use.  At that time, the farming operation included three other tractors:  a 1935 John Deere D (pictured on the back cover of the January 1993 issue of Green magazine, Vol. 9, No. 1); a 1951 Massey-Harris 44 (The Belt Pulley, July/August 1993, Vol. 6, No. 4, p. 26); and a 1948 Ford 8N.  The farm was operated by Howard Hanks and his two sons; Fred, who had returned to the farm in June of 1947 from military service in Germany as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army, and John, who had just graduated from LeRoy High School in 1953.

The daily tasks for the 22 included (and still includes) hauling of grain and manure.  During hay seasons, the 22 was and continues to be very busy hauling hay from the field.  Because the author’s father, Wayne A. Wells, cooperated with the Hanks family (his father-in-law and brothers-in-law) during hay season, the author, as a youth, had occasion to use the 22 to haul many of these loads of hay from the field himself.  Field work was generally limited to cultivating corn and soybeans with the two-row cultivator which came as part of the purchase package with the 22.  However, in the fall of 1956, some unusually hard plowing conditions existed and the 22 was hitched to the 1951 Massey-Harris 44 to give assistance with the plowing.  The stiff hitch connecting the two tractors was made of two 2 x 4 oak boards bolted together.

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The 1950 Massey-Harris 22 provides some additional help to the 1951 Massey Harris 44 in plowing in the fall of 1956 on the Hanks farm in Beaver Township, Fillmore County in Mower County, Minnesota.

A special task for the 22 evolved in the mid-1950s.  About this time, farmers began to make use of herbicides on their crops.  Anticipating this trend, the Hanks family’s 22 was fitted with a mounted sprayer purchased from Sears, Roebuck and Company.  This sprayer looked identical to a mounted sprayer pictured in the 1949 advertisement by Massey-Harris included with this article, except that the Sears sprayer was not fitted with the optional drop nozzle attachments offered by Massey-Harris.  In the advertisement, the Massey-Harris sprayer is shown mounted on a 22.  Although no pictures have yet been found of the Hanks family’s 22 showing the front-mounted spray booms, the picture from the Massey-Harris advertisement looks identical to the Hanks’ 22 during those summers when it was employed for spraying herbicides.  As shown in the advertisement, the booms are located on the front of the tractor ahead of the driver.  The tank was mounted on the rear of the tractor.  The spray was pressurized by a pump connected to the power take-off.  The booms could be folded into an upright position for transport.

Because the Hanks family had always performed custom combining and baling in the neighborhood, it was almost inevitable that the sprayer, too, was employed for custom work.  This custom spraying became the domain of my Uncle Fred Hanks.  Each June and July in the late 1950s, we would see Uncle Fred on the 22 riding down some dirt road headed to another job.  Tractor tire marks evenly spaced across some immature oat field was sure evidence that Uncle Fred had recently been there!  Sitting in the back or our 1957 Plymouth, riding down the neighborhood roads, we children would scan our neighbors’ oat fields for any small scattering of yellow which would indicate an infestation of wild mustard flowers.  This would draw a comment from us.  “They better had give Uncle Fred a call.”  (A generation later we might have used the phrase “Who you gonna call?” from the movie Ghostbusters!).

The 22 was ideally fitted for this type of work.  The large rear wheels and high revving engine allowed the 22 to really scoot down the road.  A high transport speed was important for custom work so as not to waste time.  The large rear wheels were a selling point for the 22 in 1950.  (See A World of Power, a 1950 Massey-Harris promotional movie available from Keith Oltrogge, Box 529, Denver, IA 50622-0529, Telephone: (319) 984-5292.)  The large rear wheels allowed the 22 to reach a top speed of 13.02 mph.  (C.H. Wendel, Nebraska Tractor Tests [1985] p. 145.)  However, this was at the 1500 engine rpm level.  The 22 had Twin-Power which had been available on earlier Massey-Harris models.  Twin-Power was a feature which reserved a special high range on the throttle control (from 1500-1800 rpms) to be used for belt work.  (Michael Williams, Massey-Ferguson Tractors (1987), pp. 46-47.)  The cast-iron quadrant for the throttle control lever behind the steering wheel on the 22 had a little block built into the quadrant which was intended to prevent the lever from being pulled down into the special 1500-1800 rpm range.  However, the throttle control lever could be lifted up and over this little block easily.  (C.H. Wendel, Massey Tractors, (1992) p. 67.)  The operator’s manual for the 22 warned against use of the 1500-1800 rpm range for drawbar work.  (Operating Instructions and Service Manual for the Massey-Harris 22 and 22-K, p. 5.)  Pulling a full load of hay at a speed of 16 mph down a narrow township road with steep ditches on either side could get a bit scary.  As youngsters, hauling loads of hay on the road from the fields to the barn, we were told not to experiment with the throttle in the range from 1500-1800 rpm on the 22.

We estimated, at the time, that the speed developed at 1800 rpm must have reached up to 20 mph.  This was twice the speed of the small rear-wheeled Farmall B, owned by the Wells family (See Farmall B and Equipment, a 1939 International Harvester movie), which often worked together with the 22 during hay seasons and, therefore, was the natural counterpoint for comparisons with the 22.  This 1941 Farmall B is featured in the story “The Family’s Second Tractor,”  The Belt Pulley, November/December 1993, Vol. 6, Issue 6, p. 30.  The B operated at the slower top engine speed of 1400 rpm which was common to most Farmalls.

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Wayne A. Wells drives the Massey-Harris 22 pulling three full loads of hay on the Hanks farm during haying season of 1956.

Looking back now with the benefit of research materials, we can see that we may not have been too far off in our estimates of the speed of the 22 at 1800 rpm.  Both the 22 and its predecessor, the Massey-Harris 81, were powered by a Continental engine.  The 81 could develop a top speed of 16.0 mph at 1500 rpm.  The 81 also had the Twin Power feature for belt work up to 1800 rpm.  (Nebraska Tractor Tests, p. 136.)  Larger Massey-Harris models offered contemporaneously with the model 81, like the Massey-Harris models 101, 201, and 101 Junior, were powered either with the 4-cylinder Continental MFA engine or the 6-cylinder T-57 503 Chrysler engine.  These models, too, could develop 1800 rpm; however, their top speed was 17.4 mph. (Nebraska Tractor Tests, pp. 113, 117 and 131.)  This was fast, even for the 1950s!  For the period of time from 1939 to 1946 when the 101 and 201 were manufactured, this speed must have been far in advance of the quality of the rural roads and the technology of brakes.  It may have been that the Massey-Harris company realized this and therefore made a conscious effort to gear the later models down so that even at 1800 rpm the tractor would not move so fast in road gear.  During this time, other tractor makers were busy increasing the range of speeds for their tractors.  With Massey-Harris decreasing their road speeds and other manufacturers increasing their road speeds, a happy common ground appears to have been reached in the 1950s which did not change substantially until the mid-1960s.

            Massey-Harris used to advertise the 101 and the 201 as “fast tractors.”  Indeed, there is a scene from a 1941 Massey-Harris promotional movie which shows a Massey-Harris 101 Standard hauling a load of wheat to the grain elevator.  The tractor and wagon passes up a car which is pulling off onto the shoulder of the road. (Mechanized Agriculture Meets the Challenge, (1941) available from Keith Oltrogge, noted above.)  During this scene, the narrator notes that “the motorcar driver courteously yields to the fast-moving tractor.”  We often thought that the “motorcar driver” may not have been so much courteous as scared after seeing a ton-and-a-half load of grain and a 5700 lb. tractor bearing down on him at 17-18 mph.  He may have been justified in this fear, given the length of time required to stop that load!

The 22 continues to play an active role on the Hanks family farm, even after forty years of service.  In 1989 it was restored and repainted.  Since that time, the 22 has been exhibited and paraded at local tractor shows in the summer.  One such show is the Root River Antique Power Association Show held in mid-July of each year at Racine, Minnesota.  At the time of the repainting of the 22, the hubs of the wheels were mistakenly painted orange.  Current plans include returning these hubs to their original yellow color.

The 22 continues to be a fun tractor to drive and carries with it a lot of memories.  We hope its restoration will guarantee that this fun will be carried on to future generations.