A McCormick-Deering “Little Genius” Plow in Dryden Township (Part II)
Brian Wayne Wells
This article is the second part of a two-part series of articles which was not published in the Belt Pulley magazine.
In 1940, as previously noted, a particular farmer and his wife were engaged in diversified farming on a 160 acre farm in Dryden Township in Sibley County, Minnesota. (See the first article in this series called “A McCormick-Deering ‘Little Genius’ Plow in Dryden Township [Part I]” contained in the January/February 2009 issue of Belt Pulley magazine.) Also as noted previously, our Dryden Township farmer had used the money received from the unusually large “bumper” corn crop of 1939 to purchase a used 1935 Farmall Model F-20 tractor, a two-row mounted cultivator and a new two-bottom McCormick-Deering “Little Genius” No. 8 plow with 14 inch bottoms from his local International Harvester Company (IHC) dealership—Thomes Brothers Hardware located in Arlington, Minnesota (1930 pop. 915).
Since its introduction in 1928, the Little Genius plow had become one of the most popular tractor trailing plows sold in the North America. The Little Genius plow replaced an earlier McCormick-Deering plow called the “Little Wonder.” The Little Wonder had proved to be a disappointment to IHC and to farmers that used the plow. Because of its light construction and because of the lack of clearance under the frame, the Little Wonder had trouble plowing in any kind of soil conditions especially in fields with any trash on the surface of the ground. The Little Wonder tended to clog up in trashy conditions and never seemed to adequately turn the soil over the way a mold board plow should. The Little Wonder was such a bad plow that farmers used to say that it was “‘little wonder’ that the plow was able to plow at all.”
Continued production of the Little Wonder threatened to permanently ruin the International Harvester Company’s reputation as a plow manufacturer. Introduction of the “Little Genius” plow turned all of that around, however. In reaction to the criticism of the Little Wonder plow, the Little Genius plow was designed to be a much heavier plow. Furthermore, the Little Genius was unmatched in clearance under the frame. The Little Genius could handle a great deal of trash without clogging. Additionally, the bottoms of the Little Genius plow were more sharply angled to assure a complete roll over of the soil and to completely bury trash that was lying on the surface of the ground. Thus, the Little Genius tended to work well in fields with a lot of trash on the surface of the ground. However, the sharp angle of the bottoms of the Little Genius plow meant that the plow had an increased load or draft as the plow was pulled across the field. Thus, the Little Genius plow needed to be matched to tractors with more horsepower than mold board plows designed with a less angle to their bottoms—such as the Oliver A-series Model 100 Plowmaster.
Our Dryden Township farmer was pleasantly surprised at the low price that Thomes Bros. offered for the purchase of the used 1935 F-20 tractor, the new cultivator and the new Little Genius plow. So, in the early spring of 1940, he signed the sales agreement with the Thomes Bros. Hardware dealership to purchase the tractor, plow and cultivator. Our Dryden Township farmer was anxious to get into the fields with the tractor and new plow and so he took immediate delivery of the tractor and plow. The winter of 1939-1940 was colder than normal with more than the usual amount of snow. Accordingly, it looked as though, the spring field work would be delayed because of the large amount of snow.
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A McCormick-Deering Little Genius Plow at Work in
Dryden Township, Sibley County, Minnesota
(Part 1 of 2 Parts)
Brian Wayne Wells
(This is a new article that was never published in
Belt Pulley Magazine)
The more a person works at restoration of an old farm tractor or a farm implement the more one begins to ponder the history of that farm implement. One wonders, who originally purchased the farm implement. What kind farming operation was the implement used for? If curiosity is sufficiently aroused the person restoring the tractor or implement may start making telephone calls back to the person who sold the tractor and may start attempting to establish a chain of ownership of the tractor or implement back to the original owner. However, the process of establishing the chain of ownership can be extremely difficult as time passes and memories fade. Furthermore, when purchases of tractors and farm implements are made, as many are, at swap meets and/or auctions and when such purchases are made for cash from individuals unknown, the chain of ownership can be extremely difficult to reconstruct. (Just how difficult it is to start reconstructing the history of a tractor when time passes is described in the two-part series of articles contained in the July/August 2008 and November/December 2008 issues of Belt Pulley magazine which deal with a 1937 Farmall Model F-20 tractor.) Thus, it is often important to collect history of a particular tractor or implement at the point of sale or at least collect telephone numbers to call back at a later date.
Such pondering over the history of the history of a particular implement was particularly true during the restoration of one particular McCormick-Deering Little Genius 2-bottom plow with 14″ bottoms. (The actual restoration of this plow is described in the article carried on page 11 of the September/October 1994 issue of Belt Pulley magazine [Vol. 7, No. 5. This article is called “The McCormick-Deering Little Genius Plow” and has also been posted on this website.) This particular plow was purchased by Mark Wells at the 1993 LeSueur County Pioneer Power Swap Meet. Luckily, Mark Wells had written down the name and address of the seller of the plow–Larry Hiles of rural Arlington, Minnesota.
Contact was established with Larry Hiles in 1995. Larry Hiles was living in Arlington Township in Sibley County. The homestead was located just south of the village of Arlington. This particular Little Genius plow had been discovered by Larry Hiles parked in the grove of trees that formed the wind break for this homestead. The farm on which the homestead was located had been originally owned by Earl Nagel. While living on the farm, Earl Nagel was actively engaged in farming the land. In about 1956, the homestead on the farm was sold to Raymond Kraels, who was a rural mail carrier. Raymond Kraels was not actively engaged in farming the land. On July 12, 1974, Delmar and Bonnie Mae (Kopishke) Trebesch rented and moved onto the homestead on the Nagel/Krael farm. During the years that the Trebesch family lived on the farm, they had a large garden. The garden was so big that they needed a tractor plow to turn the soil of the garden at the conclusion of each growing season. Accordingly, sometime after moving onto the farm, Delmar Trebesch purchased a McCormick-Deering Little Genius 2-bottom plow at a local farm auction. This was the same McCormick-Deering Little Genius plow that was later sold by Larry Hiles to Mark Wells at the 1993 LeSueur County Pioneer Power Swap Meet and became known as the “Trebesch plow.”
As described in the article in the September/October 1994 issue of Belt Pulley, cited above, this particular Little Genius plow was fitted with 14 inch bottoms and originally had been a steel wheeled plow fitted with McCormick-Deering’s own “round-spoke” steel wheels. However, the front wheels on this particular plow had been cut down and rims for rubber tires had been welded onto the round spokes of the front wheels. As noted in the above-cited article, although the “furrow wheel” on the right side of the plow had been fitted with a rim for a 6.00 x 16 inch rubber tire, the land wheel on the left side of the plow was fitted with a rim for a 4.75 x 19 inch tire. This seemed a rather odd pairing of tires sizes for the front of the plow. If a farmer were having the steel wheels of the plow cut down to mount rubber tires on his plow, why would he not make the tires on both sides of the plow the same size?
Before the Second World War very few farm implements were sold from the factory with rubber tires. Nonetheless, as noted in the 1994 article, the International Harvester Company (IHC) had been offering the Little Genius plow to the farming public with the option of rubber tires as early as the 1930s. Rubber tires were not a common option on the Little Genius plow in the pre-world War II era. However, during the “pre-war” era, IHC had a contract with the French and Hecht Company (F.& H.) of Davenport, Iowa, to supply rims for all the rubber-tired equipment sold under the McCormick-Deering name. Pursuant to this contract, F.& H. supplied their familiar “round spoke” wheel rims to IHC. When the option of rubber tires were requested on the Little Genius plow, IHC fitted the plow with a 6.00 x 16 inch tire on the furrow wheel and a 4.75 x 19 inch tire on the land wheel.
This followed the design pattern of the original steel-wheeled Little Genius plow, in which the land side wheel was bigger in diameter that the furrow wheel. The reason for this wheel configuration was that the land wheel was the wheel connected to the clutch of the plow. The clutch on the land wheel was the mechanism that lifted the entire plow out of the ground when the trip rope was pulled at the end of the field. Consequently, it was thought that a larger diameter wheel was needed to provide the traction and leverage necessary to pull the plow out of the ground in some heavy soil conditions where the surface of the ground was slippery. This was the situation when plowing succulent green vegetation (green fertilizer) into the soil. The land wheel rolling along on the vegetation could become slippery from the succulent plant life crushed under the land wheel. Then when the trip rope in pulled the land wheel might slide along the surface of the ground rather than continuing to turn and lifting the plow out of the ground. Accordingly, it was decided that the land wheel should be larger in diameter so as to provide more leverage when the clutch was engaged to pull the plow out of the ground. As a result, the steel-wheeled version of the Little Genius plow was fitted with a 30 inch steel wheel on the land wheel side of the plow and a 24 inch steel wheel on the furrow wheel side of the plow.
Thus, when the optional rubber tires were installed on the Little Genius plow at the factory in Canton, Illinois, the plow was fitted with a land wheel and tire of a larger diameter than the furrow wheel of the plow. During the immediate pre-war era, the 6.00 x 16 inch tire was becoming the most commonly used tire on automobiles. However, the 4.75 x 19 inch tire was also a well-known and popular size tire, it was the size of tire that was used on the very popular Ford Model A car. Thus, the configuration of a 6.00 x 16 inch tire on the furrow wheel and a 4.75 x 19 inch tire on the land wheel became the standard configuration for Little Genius plows sold with rubber tires before the Second World War. A 1941 picture of the showroom of the Johnson Bros IHC Dealership of Taylorsville, Illinois bears this out. In the foreground of the picture is a new rubber-tired version of the Little Genius plow with a 6.00 x 16 inch tire on the furrow wheel and a 4.75 x 19 inch tire on the land wheel side of the plow.
During the Second World War hardly any rubber was available for civilian use. Consequently, IHC reverted to steel wheels on its new farm equipment. Some time during the Second World War, the contract with F.& H. was terminated and IHC signed another supply contract for rims with the Electric Wheel Company of Quincy, Illinois. The wheels provided by the Electric Wheel Company were “disc-type” wheels. Thus, the “post-war” McCormick-Deering Little Genius plow becomes distinguishable from the “pre-war” Little Genius plow fitted with rubber tires, in that disc-type wheels characterized post-war Little Genius plows and F.& H. round-spoke wheel rims characterized pre-war Little Genius plows fitted with rubber tires. Thus, when cutting down the steel wheels of the Trebesch plow, someone had done a lot of work to make the plow appear as though it came from the factory as a rubber tired plow during the pre-war era.
By 1974, when Delmar Trebesch ended up being the highest bidder on this particular “Little Genius” plow, the increased size of the average farming operation and the larger equipment used on the average farm had definitely made this two-bottom tractor trailing plow into an “antique” from a bygone era. However, there was a time when this particular Little Genius plow had been a new object of attention for a particular farmer looking to modernize his farming operation. Continue reading Egg Raising in Dryden Township, Sibley County Minnesota (Part 1)→
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A 1938 Allis-Chalmers Model WC Tractor at Work
by Brian Wayne Wells
As published in the July/August 2007 issue of
Belt Pulley Magazine)
Ever since it’s introduction in 1933, the row-crop, tricycle design-style Model WC tractor had been a very successful sales item for the Allis-Chalmers Manufacturing Company. As noted, previously, the sales of the Model WC tractor created a real opportunity for various businesses, like the H.B. Seitzer and Company dealership of St. Peter, Minnesota. (See the article called the “Allis-Chalmers Two-Row Corn Picker at Work” for the story of the H.B. Seitzer and company dealership, contained in the May/June 2007 issue of Belt Pulley magazine.) An even more dramatic example of the Model WC tractor creating business opportunities for local franchise owners, is the story of Albert E. Anderson. It is a story of an immigrant to the United States from Sweden.
Prior to 1880, Sweden had been the leading exporter of oats to the England. Oats were important, primarily, as feed for horses. Secondarily, were oats were rolled as oat meal for human consumption. As England industrialized, the country needed more oats to feed the growing non-agricultural, urban sector of the population and to feed the increasing number of horses employed off the farm. For decades, Sweden had filled England’s growing demand for oats. Growing oats for this market had kept money flowing into the provinces of southeastern Sweden best-known for agricultural products. Indeed, oats were in such demand that even the marginal lands of the southwestern provinces of Sweden—like the province of Smalund—were plowed and planted to oats.
However, by 1880 England had begun importing cheaper oats from the United States. The opening of the upper midwest of the United States after the War Between the States greatly expanded the capacity of the United States to become an inexpensive supplier of oats. The price of oats from the United States severely undercut the cost of production of oats in Sweden. Thus, by 1880, Sweden had lost a huge part of its foreign export market in oats to the United States. This created a long term economic recession in rural Sweden. Predictably, the young people of rural Sweden began to look for new economic opportunities outside of Sweden. Emmigration from Sweden, during this time, came largely from southern Sweden and, largely, from those southwestern provinces with more marginal agricultural land. Large numbers of the immigrants from Smalund in Sweden in the 1880s, settled in the State of Minnesota in the United States. Certain parts of southern Minnesota bear a strong resemblance to Smalund in Sweden in terms of climate and soil conditions.
One of those young persons was Albert E. Anderson. Albert had been born in Sweden on November 15, 1884. One of the most consistent and pervasive facts of his early life in Sweden had been the steady flow of friends, neighbors and relatives out of Sweden. Most of these young people left their native land to seek their fortune in the United States of America. If the letters and messages from relatives already living in the United States could be believed, life was bliss in the New World.
Albert had training as a blacksmith. However, the income that he could derive from this vocation in Sweden was so insignificant that he finally decided to leave Sweden for good. Accordingly, Albert sailed to Copenhagen, Denmark to catch the S.S. Oscar II sailing from Copenhagen to the United States. The S.S. Oscar II arrived in New York on April 8, 1909. Sailing past the Statue of Liberty the ship landed at Ellis Island in New York harbor. From the time that he descended the gang plank of the S.S. Oscar and stepped onto the dock on Ellis Island, Al Anderson found everything was strange and new.
As he made his way up the large stone staircase in the central hallway of the Ellis Island facility, Albert was considerably anxious about the medical examinations and other processes he would have to undergo on the island. If he did not pass the physical examination on Ellis Island, he could be sent back to Sweden. Little did he know that by the time that he reached the top of the staircase, his medical examination was largely completed. The meager medical staff on the Island was swamped with the large number of immigrants that landed each day. Consequently, the “medical examinations” of the incoming immigrants were considerably abbreviated and consisted, largely, of the medical staff on Island merely observing the immigrants as they made their way up the long flight of stairs in large central hallway of the main building.
Any individual immigrant that appeared to have trouble climbing the flight of stairs would be pulled aside for further medical tests. Clearly, Albert Anderson passed his “medical examination” and was leaving Ellis Island much sooner than he expected. As previously arranged, he started out of New York and headed straight westward toward Verona Township in Faribault County in Minnesota where he expected to meet some of his family members and old neighbors from his old community in Sweden. Albert hoped to put his experience as a blacksmith to work in the small growing settlement of Huntley, Minnesota located in Verona Township. Shortly after arriving in Huntley, Albert established a hardware business in a building in the small un-incorporated settlement that was Huntley.
Within the first few years in Huntley, Albert Anderson met a young lady, named Phoebe G. Skabrud. They fell in love and were married in 1914. In August of 1915, Phoebe gave birth to a son, Paul C. Anderson. Their family was completed by the birth of a daughter, Florence Phoebe, born on November 10, 1917; and finally a son, Albert Elden, born in 1921.
When the 1920 United States Census taker showed up in Huntley, Minnesota, on January 22, 1920, he listed Al Anderson’s primary language as “Swedish.” However, in Huntley, Al Anderson was not alone. The Census report listed a number of heads of household within the settlement of Huntley that also spoke Swedish. Additionally, the Census report indicated that, in 1920, Al Anderson was already occupied as a “merchant” in the “farm machinery” business. One would have to surmise that Al Anderson knew enough English to not only make himself understood in English, but could actually make a successful sales pitch to English-speaking customers. By the time of the 1930 United States Census, Albert Anderson’s occupation was listed as a “proprietor” of a business described as a “hardware/farm implement” business.
As shown previously, the Allis-Chalmers Manufacturing Company, in the mid-to-late 1930s, engaged in a campaign to build up and extend its nationwide sales network. (See the history of the Distel Oil Company dealership described in the article called “The Rinehardt/Christian/Boehne Allis-Chalmers Model E Threshermans Special Tractor” in March/April 2007 issue of Belt Pulley magazine and the history of the H.B. Seitzer and Company dealership described in the article called “The Allis-Chalmers Two-Row Corn Picker at Work” contained in the May/June 2007 issue of Belt Pulley magazine.) This campaign was carried on by Allis-Chalmers sales representatives scouring the countryside of the Midwest looking for local businesses that would be willing to become Allis-Chalmers franchise dealers. When the sales representatives arrived in Faribault County sometime in the mid-1930s, they must have found the Al Anderson hardware store, which already had a long history of serving as a local farm machinery sales outlet, an attractive prospect. For his part, Al Anderson knew that by becoming an authorized Allis Chalmers dealer, he would be able to sell farm tractors along with all the other farm machinery he already was offering to the farming public of his community. Al Anderson realized that, by accepting the offer of an Allis Chalmers dealership, he would suddenly become “full line” farm equipment dealership. Furthermore, Al knew that the Model WC row-crop tractor was a very popular sales item. As noted in a previous article, sales of the Model WC tractor had been explosive since the tractor had been introduced in 1933. (See the article called “An Allis-Chalmers Two-Row Mounted Corn Picker at Work” contained in the May/June 2007 issue of Belt Pulley magazine.) Nation-wide, sales of the Model WC had reached 17,914 tractors in 1936.
Last year in 1937, nation-wide sales nearly doubled and rose to 29,006 despite the recession of 1937. This was a record year for the production of the Model WC by the Allis-Chalmers Manufacturing Company. This was an average of 2,417 model WC tractors per month throughout 1937. So far in 1938, sales of the Model WC were starting to pick up again as the effects of the 1937 recession started to wear off. However, production of the Model WC tractor was suspended while the Allis-Chalmers Tractor Works in West Allis, Wisconsin was being re-tooled for introduction of a “new” Model WC tractor.
Because of the spectacular sales of the Model WC tractor, Al Anderson agreed to become the local Allis-Chalmers franchise dealership for Huntley, Minnesota. He would sell the Allis-Chalmers line of farm equipment out of his hardware store in Huntley, Minnesota. The sales area covered by his new franchise would include, not only Verona Township where Huntley was located, but included the much larger area of western Faribault County and eastern Martin Counties in southern Minnesota.
Massey-Harris Farming (Part III): The Clipper Combine
Brian Wayne Wells
As published in the July/August 2004 issue of
Belt Pulley Magazine
Civilized man has grown plants for consumption since 8000 B.C.E. (Before the Common Era). This change from the hunting and gathering stage of human development to the growing of food products is referred to as the agricultural revolution. One of the first crops planted by civilized man was a form of wheat grain. Processing of wheat into flour was so common among civilizations around the world that bread became known as the “staple of life” and wheat became known as the “shaft of life.” The processing of wheat involved a lot of manual labor. Since the earliest of times, the grain was harvested after it had turned golden amber color under the hot summer sun. However, even at this stage the grain contained moisture. Harvesting or reaping would sever the plant from its roots and allow the grain to “sweat” and dry completely. This sweating generally occurred after the grain had been gathered together in bundles and placed in “shocks” in the field. Once the grain had thoroughly dried out, the bundles would be gathered up and threshed by hand. Then the grain had to be winnowed or separated from all the chaff that may be left in the grain following threshing. Thus, harvesting and threshing and winnowing of the grain remained three separate time-consuming hand operations for the processing grain. This method of processing grain remained unchanged for centuries. In 1831, on his family farm in Virginia, Cyrus McCormick took his first big step toward mechanical grain harvesting with his reaper. Improvements to the reaper, eventually, allowed the machine to automatically bind the grain into bundles. Mechanization of the threshing process was also accomplished by the development of a threshing machine in the 1860s. However, this threshing machine was a stationary unit and the bundled grain had to be brought from the field to the thresher for threshing and winnowing of the grain. Originally steam engines were used as power sources for these stationary threshers. By 1877, the Buffalo-Pitts Company was able to advertise a thresher/separator, that would not only thresh, but would also winnow the grain. Development of a small portable thresher-separator that would combine the operations of harvesting, threshing and winnowing in one single operation was carried on in the Central Valley of California by three different corporate concerns—the Stockton Combine Harvester and Agricultural Works; the Daniel Best Agricultural Works and the Stockton Wheel Company. (After 1892, Stockton Wheel became the Holt Manufacturing Company.) In 1925, these three companies would merge to form the Caterpillar Tractor Company. The early combines produced by each of these three companies were of mammoth proportions and required 24 to 40 horses to pull the machine across the field. A separate auxiliary power source was need to power the machine itself. California’s steady weather allowed the grain to be harvested while it was still standing in the field rather than being cut and dried out in a windrow. Likewise, all across the western United States and the western provinces of Canada, grain was harvested while standing. In these western states grain was raised in fields stretching from horizon to horizon. Thus, the Great Plains became known as the bread basket of North America. Only in large-scale grain farming areas like the Great Plains were the huge combines profitable. In the Midwest, farms were much smaller—generally only about 160 acres. Furthermore, the arable land of the average farm was often shared with other crops and with pasture for animals. Usually only about 30 to 35 acres of grain would be raised on a typical 160-acre farm in any given year. A big combine was not profitable in this type of farming operation. Farms in the Midwest had to await development of a small combine. Development of the small combine for use on the small farms of the Midwest took a circuitous route and some early attempts were not entirely successful. One early attempt to develop a small combine began with Curtis Baldwin and his brothers, Earnest and George, who formed the Baldwin Manufacturing Company (later to become the Gleaner Manufacturing Company) of Nickerson Kansas in 1915. The efforts of the Baldwin brothers resulted in a Fordson-mounted combine in 1923. This combine was named the “Gleaner” combine. The popularity of the Gleaner combine was tied directly to the popularity of the Fordson tractor. In the early 1920s, the popularity of the Fordson made the Gleaner mounted combine a popular sales item, but later in the late 1920s, when the Fordson declined in popularity, so too did the popularity of the Gleaner. The Gleaner mounted combine ceased production altogether in 1927. In the 1930s, the Baldwin Company went into bankruptcy. New owners bought the company from the Baldwin brothers and changed the name of the company to the Gleaner Manufacturing Company of Independence, Missouri. The new Gleaner Company began designing and producing a series of pull-type combines. Revealing the company’s long-time ties to the Ford Motor Company, early versions of these pull-type combines were powered by Ford Model A industrial engines. However, these attempts at producing a pull-type combine were not successful over the long run. Gleaner pull-type combines proved to have design flaws and never became popular with the buying public. Only after 1951, the Gleaner Company became successful for the combines they produced. However, this success was not based on development of a pull-type combine. Rather Gleaner became famous for the development and production of its line of self-propelled combines. The most successful small pull-type combine was the 3,000 pound All-Crop- Harvester developed and manufactured by the Allis-Chalmers Manufacturing Company of West Allis, Wisconsin (a more complete story of the All-Crop Harvester was published in the March/April 2005 issue of Belt Pulley magazine and is also exhibited here on this website). The All-Crop Harvester was first introduced to the public in 1929. Following in the train of the success of the All-Crop Harvester, other farm equipment companies began producing their own version of a small pull-type combine. Most of these other companies adopted a “straight through” design for their small combines. The straight-through designed cut the grain (or picked up the grain from a windrow) threshed and separated the grain from the straw and then deposited the straw on top of the same stubble at the rear of the combine in roughly the same location where grain had been cut or picked up. In this way, the straight-through combines avoided the sharp left turn the chaff and straw would take as it progressed through the All-Crop Harvester. One of the farm equipment companies to develop a straight through combine was the Massey-Harris Company of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Starting with a design by E. C. Everett, Massey-Harris introduced their small straight-through combine in 1938. his combine was called the “Clipper” combine. Although the Massey-Harris Company was a Canadian company and maintained most of its manufacturing facilities in Canada, virtually all Clipper combines were made in the United States at the company’s Batavia, New York facility. The 3,000 pound Clipper pull-type combine was marketed with either a 6-foot or a 7-foot cutter bar model. Both models featured a 5-foot cylinder and a 5 foot wide separating table. In its first two years of production (1938-1939), the simplicity, small size and low price of the Clipper made the combine a sales success. In those first two years the Clipper cut well into the market share dominated by the Allis-Chalmers All-Crop Harvester. Right from the start of production, the Clipper combine was available only on rubber tires. Like many farm equipment companies before World War II, Massey-Harris contracted with the French & Hecht Company of Bettendorf, Iowa, to supply round-spoked wheel rims for these rubber tires on the Clipper. After the war, Massey-Harris switched to disc-type wheel rims for their rubber tired wheels for the Clipper combine. Like most companies in the post-war era, Massey Harris obtained these disc-type wheels from the Electric Wheel Company of Quincy, Illinois. Because of this abrupt change of contract, “pre-war” Clipper combines are distinguishable from the Clipper combines manufactured in the post-war era. Concurrent with the start of Clipper combine production, Tom Carroll, an engineer for Massey-Harris began to work on a self-propelled combine. By 1942, Carroll had completed a design for a self-propelled combine that would become the Massey-Harris Model 21 combine. This was the world’s first truly self-propelled combine. The Model 21 combine was ready for production, but wartime restrictions prevented its manufacture. Massey-Harris set about convincing the United States War Production Board that the Batavia, New York factory should be allotted sufficient steel and other raw materials to produce a limited number of Model 21 combines. Massey-Harris sought to build sufficient Model 21 combines to conduct extensive field tests on the combine. These field tests would, the Company felt, convince one and all that one-man-operated self-propelled combine could harvest much more grain with less investment and in money and manpower “than any other machine or combination of machines in existence.” The War Production Board was persuaded and Massey-Harris was allotted enough materials to produce 500 Model 21 combines. These combines were sold to custom harvesters in March of 1944. The new combines would begin harvesting in Texas and move north across the Great Plains to the Canadian border, combining nearly 1 million acres and threshing 15 million bushels of grain in the 1944 harvest season. This became known as the Massey-Harris Harvest Brigade and served as an excellent advertising promotion for the company. The Harvest Brigade was so successful that it was expanded for the 1945 harvest season. The Harvest Brigade attracted public attention at the time and has attracted the fancy of fans and restorers of Massey-Harris equipment ever since. Thus, as the 60th anniversary of the Brigade approached more and more restorers expressed interest in participating in a reenactment of the original Harvest Brigade. Thus, on September 22, 2001, a large number of Massey-Harris tractors and equipment were brought to a 130-acre plot of land in rural Chillicothe, Illinois, to plow, prepare the seed bed, and plant winter wheat on the plot of land. This event, organized by Dale Lawrence, was dubbed the “Great Planting.” The wheat formed a good root system over the fall of 2001 and then went into a dormant stage over the winter. With the arrival of spring, the wheat started growing again and by early summer in 2002, the wheat was ready to harvest. Harvest Day was planned and was called the “Great Harvest.” A collection of Massey-Harris combines owned by Wes Armstrong, Gary Emsweller, Vernon Winterroth and Ray Swanson gathered together to harvest the wheat at the Great Harvest Day. (See “A Massey Connection” by Cindy Ladage in the July/August 2003 issue of Belt Pulley magazine.) At the annual show held on the grounds of the LeSueur County Pioneer Power Association in rural LeCenter, Minnesota on August 26 through 29, 2003. This annual show was to feature the same Harvest Brigade combines as had participated in the Great Harvest Day the year before in Illinois. In anticipation of this field demonstration, some of the grain that is usually planted on the grounds and which is usually cut and bundled for threshing during the annual show, was left standing uncut. This grain was left standing in order to be harvested by the Massey-Harris combines at the show in another re-enactment of the Harvest Brigade. Throughout the summer of 2004 a continuation of the celebration of the Harvest Brigade took place in many locations across the Great Plains. One particular celebration began in March of 2004 when Lenwood Holo of Omaha, Nebraska and Eau Claire, Wisconsin loaded up his newly restored Model 21 self-propelled Massey-Harris combine on his 1949 Dodge 2-ton truck truck and set out for Texas to retrace the route of the Harvest Brigade—following the harvest north from Texas to Langdon, North Dakota. While the self-propelled Massey-Harris combine and the Harvest Brigade captured all the attention during the war. After the war, when the wartime economic restrictions on civilian industrial production were lifted, Massey-Harris’ pull-type Clipper combine came back into prominence. Indeed the Clipper combine became a very big seller for the Massey-Harris Company. Clipper combine production resumed after the war. The post-war Clipper combine was offered to the farming public in a power take-off version as well as an engine-powered version. The engine used for the auxiliary-powered version, was the Wisconsin Model VE-4 air-cooled engine. (An article on the history of the Wisconsin Motor Company was published in the September/October 2004 issue of Belt Pulley magazine and is reproduced at this website.) Despite the fact that power take-off was a common feature of post-war tractors and despite the fact that the 1-3/8th inch containing six (6) splines had become universally accepted as the standard power take-off, there still, nonetheless, seemed to be more auxiliary engine-powered versions of the Clipper combine manufactured than power take-off versions. Of particular interest for this particular article are two post-war Clipper combines, both equipped with the Wisconsin VE-4 air-cooled engine, which were delivered to two separate Massey Harris dealerships in southern Minnesota. The first of these two Clipper combines arrived in Amboy, Minnesota (1940 pop. 576) some time in the early summer of 1948. The combine arrived on board a flat-bed car attached to a Chicago and Northwestern train. The flat-bed railroad car carrying the Clipper combine and some other Massey-Harris equipment originated from the Massey-Harris Company branch house located in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In Amboy, the Clipper combine was unloaded from the railroad car and was taken to the W. J. Nelson Dealership in Amboy. (A history of the W. J. Nelson dealership was carried in the second article of this three part series of articles on “Massey-Harris Farming” published in the May/June 2004 issue of Belt Pulley magazine. The article is also reproduced on this website under the name “Massey-Harris Farming: The Arno Schull Model 30 Tractor.”) Continue reading Massey-Harris Farming (Part III): The Clipper Combine→
As published in the January/February 2000 issue of
Belt Pulley Magazine
In the second article on David Bradley farm machinery, two of the most popular and recognizable products were discussed–the farm wagon and the garden tractor. However, the David Bradley line, as advertised in the Spring and Fall issues of the Sears and Roebuck catalogue every year, included tractor loaders, field tillage equipment, and even harvesting equipment such as its one-row, semi-mounted corn picker. This installment will feature two lesser known, but still popular, items–the tractor plow and the manure spreader.
As pointed out in the first article, the David Bradley Company began its plow production with the famous horse-drawn Clipper plow. With the dawn of the tractor era, however, David Bradley introduced tractor-drawn plows. In the Spring 1936 Sears catalogue, a 2-bottom plow with 12″ bottoms was advertised for $69.95, another 2-bottom plow with 14″ bottoms for $71.85, and a 3-bottom plow with 14″ bottoms for $105.00. These steel-wheeled plows were painted David Bradley red with lime-green wheels to match the rest of the David Bradley line of farm machinery.
During the 1930s, Ned Healy placed an order for a particular David Bradley 2-bottom plow; consequently, a steel-wheeled David Bradley 2-bottom plow with 14-inch bottoms was delivered to the Sears store in Mankato, Minnesota, the county seat of Blue Earth County. Ned Healy, who operated a farm south of Mapleton, Minnesota, farmed with a Graham-Bradley 32-hp tractor and, later, a Massey-Harris 101. Both of these tractors had very fast road speeds for their time (19.8 mph. and 17.85 mph., respectively). (C.H. Wendel, Nebraska Tractor Tests [Crestline Publishing Company: Sarasota, FL 1985] pp. 110 and 137.) Ned not only farmed his own farm, he also helped his brother, Horace Healy, on another farm just down the road. Both the Graham and the Massey Harris tractors, with their rubber tires and very fast road speeds, were well-suited for the Healy farming operation which involved frequent transfers of machinery from farm to farm. Consequently, when the new David-Bradley plow arrived on the Ned Healy farm, its distinctive green colored steel wheels were soon cut down to be fitted with rims for rubber tires.
In the same Mapleton, Minnesota, neighborhood lived the Howard Hanks family. As noted in a previous article, the Hanks family once rented the John T. Goff farm also just south of Mapleton, Minnesota. (“The Family’s First Tractor,” Antique Power, May/June 1994, Vol. 6, No. 4, pp. 22-24.) Now, in early 1944, the Hanks family began negotiations to purchase a farm of their own in Beaver township, Fillmore County, near LeRoy, Minnesota. This 400-acre farm was owned by Albert E. Rehwaldt of Good Thunder, Minnesota, but had always been known as the Bagan farm. Included in the terms of the purchase was a 1942 Farmall H accompanied by a 2-row cultivator. This would be the Hanks family’s first row crop tractor. (See “The Wartime Farmall H,” Belt Pulley, July/August 1994, Vol. 7, No. 4, pp. 13-17.) The family was finally to be settling on their own land! Thus, in order to get an early start on the 1945 growing season, they drove the 100 miles to the Bagan farm in the late summer of 1944 to do some fall plowing, bringing with them their 1931 John Deere D and their 3-bottom John Deere No. 82 plow to do this. They also borrowed Ned Healy’s David Bradley plow to pull behind the Farmall H which was already at the Bagan farm. Because the renter of the Bagan farm, Roy Green and his family, was still in the house, the Hanks family camped out in a small chicken brooder house. Nevertheless, during the ten days they were there, the family completed the fall plowing and did some work on the house before they had to return to the Goff farm for the soybean harvest. They left all of the machinery they had brought with them on the Bagan farm until the following spring, when they would return to plant the crop, and went back to the Goff farm with only Ned Healy’s plow aboard the truck. The little David Bradley had performed well during the short time on the Bagan farm and had helped the Hanks family get a jump on the 1945 crop season.
Also during the 1930s, another David Bradley 2-bottom plow was delivered to the Sears store in Austin, Minnesota, the county seat of Mower County, for a customer by the name of Martin Hetletvedt. Martin farmed a 160-acre farm north of the “Old Town” area of LeRoy, Minnesota. (Most of his farm has now been merged into the Lake Louise State Park located in the Old Town area.)
LeRoy was originally settled at the site of a sawmill located next to a dam on the Upper Iowa River. The dam and sawmill were built in 1853. By 1855, a settlement had grown up around the sawmill, and by 1858, the town of LeRoy was platted there. However, as white pine from northern Minnesota became more readily available for building material, the sawing of local hardwoods became unprofitable and the sawmill was converted to a grist mill in 1858. In 1867, when the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad (later the Milwaukee Road) came through the area, it by-passed the settlement of LeRoy, and the railroad station built by the railroad to serve the town was actually located about a mile southeast of LeRoy. Consequently, over the next several years, the people of whole town of LeRoy resettled to the area around the railroad station, and in 1874, LeRoy was incorporated at the new location. Gradually, the settlement around the grist mill declined and the area became known as “Old Town.” The grist mill itself also closed up, as better methods of flour milling were developed.
with 14-inch Bottoms at Work in Nicollet County, Minnesota.
Brian Wayne Wells
as published in an issue of the
Hart-Parr Oliver Collectors Magazine
In South Bend, Indiana, among the other industrial plants located there, were the Oliver Corporation’s Plant #1 and Plant #2. Plant #1 had been devoted to the production of the famous Oliver chilled steel-bottom plows since 1853. (See C.H. Wendel, Oliver/Hart-Parr [Motorbooks International: Oseola, Wisconsin, 1992], p. 107.) Since about 1938, Oliver had been manufacturing the 100-Series Plowmaster plows at its South Bend factories. These plows had the patented Raydex bottoms which had been designed by Herman and Rudolph (Rudi) Altgelt, brothers, who were employed as engineers by the Oliver Company from the 1920s through the 1940s. (See “The First Oliver Tractor” on page 18 of the November/December 1990 issue of Antique Power for the story of the Altgelt Brothers.)
Prior to the Second World War, Plowmaster plows were manufactured with steel-wheels. However, after the war, production of the rubber-tire version of the Plowmaster boomed. Oliver 100-Series Plowmaster plows contained a number of unique features. Besides the patented Raydex bottoms and “radius curved” plow shares, the plow had a rack and pinion style mechanical lift (sometimes called a “cock’s comb”), a hand crank style of height adjustment, and an optional clasp hitch with a special rigid clevis which was sold with each plow. This clevis had to be bolted to the drawbar each time before plowing. However, once the rigid clevis was in place on the drawbar, hitching the plow to the tractor was much easier. Detaching the plow was as easy as pressing down on a button on the clasp hitch and driving the tractor forward.
The 100-Series Plowmaster plow was painted red with green wheels, even though the color scheme of the Oliver Fleetline Model 77 and Model 88 tractors introduced in 1948 was green with red wheels. Later, however, the color scheme of the plow was reversed to green with red wheels to match the tractors. Indeed, Bob Tallman, a former Oliver dealer from Tower City, Pennsylvania, from 1946 through 1969, relates that the color scheme of the Oliver 100-Series Plowmaster plows changed three times while he was operating the dealership.
In 1947, a particular 2-bottom 100-Series Plowmaster plow with 14-inch bottoms, the optional caster-type rubber-tired rear trailing wheel, and the optional clasp hitch rolled out of the production department at Plant #1. Before the plow was shipped, however, the plow was “knocked down,” or KD’ed (disassembled), by the shipping department at Plant #1. The plow was then placed in a railroad boxcar together with several other KD’ed plows which had been factory-ordered by various southern Minnesota Oliver dealerships. The plow orders for southern Minnesota had been collected by the Oliver district manager at the Oliver branch house in Minneapolis, Minnesota. These orders were then grouped together in railroad boxcar-sized groups to save shipping expenses. Each railroad boxcar loaded with plows was scheduled to arrive in a centrally located town within different regions of the State of Minnesota. All of the Oliver dealers within each region were informed of the date on which the boxcar would arrive at some central location in their region. Each dealer would then make arrangements to pick up the plows they had ordered.
In this particular case, the boxcar was headed for Mankato, Minnesota, centrally located in the southern region of the state. The train left South Bend, Indiana, on the Penn Central tracks headed to Chicago. At Chicago, the boxcar was transferred to a Chicago and Northwestern train headed north to Minnesota. It then arrived at the Chicago and Northwestern railroad station in Mankato, Minnesota, where it was spotted to await the next day when the plows would be unloaded.
Among the Oliver dealers scheduled to receive a plow was the H.B. Seitzer Implement dealership of St. Peter, Minnesota, ten miles north of Mankato. St. Peter, a town of about 6500 at that time, was the county seat located on the eastern edge of Nicollet County in the colorful Minnesota River valley. Seitzer’s Implement was a family-owned business which had been founded in 1915 as the local Ford car and tractor dealership. In about 1930, they also became the local Allis-Chalmers dealership. At about the same time, they obtained the local franchise of the Oliver Company. This was a convenient combination of franchises because throughout the 1920s Ford and Oliver cooperated to sell Fordson tractors together with Oliver chilled-steel plows. In 1946, the H.B. Seitzer Company was split into two separate entities. The Ford car dealership continued at the same location in the 100 block of South Minnesota Avenue in St. Peter while the Allis-Chalmers and Oliver franchises moved to a building at 311 South Front Street in St. Peter. Both of the companies continued to be known as Seitzer’s. Mark Seitzer, son of H.B. Seitzer, founder of the company, became the operator of the Oliver and Allis-Chalmers dealership.
Mark Seitzer, now retired, noted that the 100-Series Plowmaster plow was a popular product with area farmers. The Oliver plows had a good reputation in the area around St. Peter. Ivan Reddemann, who farms northeast of St. Peter across the Minnesota River in Tyrone Township in LeSueur County, remembers that his father, Edwin Reddemann, found that the Oliver plow was the only plow that would scour easily in the rich black gumbo soil of Nicollet and LeSueur Counties. Edwin Reddemann had previously tried a McCormick-Deering Little Genius 2-bottom 14-inch plow on steel wheels and a Case 2-bottom 16-inch plow on rubber tires behind the Reddemann family’s Farmall H before settling on an Oliver 100-Series Plowmaster 2-bottom 16-inch plow on rubber tires.
To the west of St. Peter, in New Sweden township in Nicollet County, Gerald and Ruby (Quist) Wise farmed a 160-acre farm which had originally been homesteaded by Ruby’s mother’s family (Ostrom) in 1869. In 1947, this farming operation also used an Oliver 2-bottom 100-Series Plowmaster with a 1942 John Deere B. The Wise family also found that the Plowmaster, which had been purchased at Seitzer’s Implement, worked well in the same type of soil on their farm. The Plowmaster plow would continue to be used on the Wise farm through the time that Warren Rodning (who married Marilyn Wise, daughter of Gerald and Ruby Wise) took over the farming operation in 1956. Warren continued to use the Plowmaster plow until he traded the John Deere B and the Plowmaster for the larger and more modern John Deere 630 with a mounted 3-bottom John Deere plow in 1958.
The termination of war-time production quotas, plus the rise in farm commodity prices fueled by the sale of United States foodstuffs in Europe under the Aid to Greece program which was signed into law on May 22, 1947 (Truman, Harry S., Years of Trial and Hope [New American Library, New York, 1956], p. 131) and the tantalizing promise of much wider sales to Europe under the Marshall Plan which was outlined to the public on June 5, 1947 (McCullough, David, Truman [Simon & Schuster, New York, 1950], p. 562) created a large demand for farm machinery in 1947. Because of the demand and the Plowmaster’s good reputation in the St. Peter area, the management at Seitzer’s knew the Plowmaster they had ordered would not be in the dealership warehouse very long before it would be sold.
After being informed by the Minneapolis branch house of the date on which the plows in the boxcar would be unloaded at Mankato, the Seitzer management made arrangements with a local farmer, who had a truck with a grain box, to go to Mankato to pick up the plow.
Expectations of the management at Seitzer’s proved correct. Shortly after the Plowmaster arrived at the dealership, it was sold to Alton and Alice (Miner) Jacobson. At this point, the plow was re-assembled by the employees at Seitzer’s.
Alton and Alice Jacobson farmed 80 acres west of St. Peter in Oshawa Township in Nicollet County. This farm had been owned by the Jacobson family ever since it was homesteaded by their ancestors in 1875. (The farm would become a registered “Century Farm” in 1975.) In 1947, the Jacobson’s and their two sons, Warren and Raymond, were milking cows and raising sheep, hogs, and chickens on their diversified farming operation. They used nearly all of the corn, oats, and hay they raised as feed for their livestock, but they did sell soybeans each year. Although they continued to farm with horses in the post-World War II period, they had purchased a new WC Allis-Chalmers tractor on rubber tires from Seitzer Implement in 1940. It was this tractor that pulled the Plowmaster for most of its productive life on the Jacobson farm.
The Oliver Plowmaster was used on the Jacobson farm until 1985 when Alton Jacobson died. An auction of the farm machinery was held that year. Attending the auction was Fred Netz, who had married Jan Miner, niece of Alton and Alice (Miner) Jacobson. Fred and Jan were both teaching at the elementary school in Nicollet, Minnesota. In addition, they had just bought a 220-acre farm in the same vicinity, keeping a small parcel for the horses they intended to raise and renting the remaining acreage to Fred’s brother.
Fred arrived late to the Alton Jacobson auction because he had been busy that morning purchasing a 1944 Farmall H for use on their new farm. At the conclusion of the auction, he found that with the remaining small amount of property that did not sell was the trusty little Oliver 100-Series Plowmaster plow. The plow was in very good shape and the two 14-inch bottoms were still shiny with their “land polish” which had been carefully varnished with grease. The special clevis that had been purchased with the plow was still connected to the hitch. The auctioneer, however, had been unable to raise a bid on the plow because by 1985 moldboard plowing had fallen out of style in favor of minimum tillage. Furthermore, the 2-bottom plow was much too small for modern farming requirements. Therefore, Fred bought the little plow for a nominal price at the conclusion of the sale as a convenience to the estate and the auctioneer.
Fred took the plow to his new farm. Despite the fact that the 2-bottom plow was outdated on most modern farms, he found that the plow allowed him to get closer to fence rows and ditches than the new larger plows. Because of this capability, he was able to find a niche for the little Plowmaster in his farming operation and also in the modern farming operations of his brother and other area farmers. On occasion, Fred performed some “end-row” plowing in some neighborhood fields; however, this work was infrequent and the plow was used less and less as the years went by. Finally, in 1993, Fred decided to sell both the Farmall H and the Oliver 100-Series Plowmaster plow.
A former Nicollet elementary school principal, Wayne Wells, now of LeSueur, Minnesota, answered his advertisement. Wayne Wells, definitely a Farmall man, was interested in purchasing the Farmall H, but was not interested in the Oliver plow. Fred insisted, however, that the plow be part of the package and so the agreement was made. The tractor and plow were loaded up and transported the short distance to LeSueur, Minnesota.
Mark Wells, of Billerica, Massachusetts, and myself, both sons of Wayne Wells, first saw the little Oliver 2-bottom plow sitting in the backyard of the Wells home in LeSueur, Minnesota, in August of 1993 when we arrived for our annual visit to attend the LeSueur Pioneer Power Show. As usual, plans had been made to do some work on one of the Wells family’s restoration projects for the Show. The primary project for this particular Show was to be the restoration of the pre-war McCormick-Deering Little Genius 2-bottom plow. (The story of this restoration was carried in the September/October 1994 issue of Belt Pulley magazine and is shown in the “second hour” portion of Tape #6 from the International Harvester Promotional Movies Collection.)
During the restoration of the Little Genius, there was plenty of opportunity to compare the Oliver 100-Series Plowmaster plow with the Little Genius side by side. Wayne Wells noted that the angle of the Raydex bottoms on the Oliver plow was reduced such that it appeared the bottom would slide through the ground easier and that the sod could be turned over more gently than on the Little Genius. He thought that this must have been the key to Oliver’s reputation for easy scouring in the rich black gumbo soil in the area.
The 100-Series Plowmaster plow was a heavily decaled plow as opposed to the McCormick-Deering plows. There was a “Plowmaster” decal on the leveling lever, a green and yellow “Oliver” decal on the support beam between the bottoms near the rear of the plow, and then there were the curved “Oliver/Raydex” decals on the backs of the moldboards. (Actually, on this particular plow, only the rear bottom had the “Oliver/Raydex” decal.) The front bottom, unlike the rear bottom, was green and had no decal. It looked as though the front bottom had been replaced sometime during the life of the plow. As we began to examine the plow closely and to hear other members of the LeSueur Pioneer Power Association talk about the plow, the more we began to warm to the idea of restoring the Plowmaster plow. However, we determined that the Oliver plow would be long-term project needing a lot of research, definitely not something that was going to be completed even in 1994.
First there were some mechanical problems that needed to be addressed. The height adjustment crank was rusted tight at one setting. (This is a typical problem for Plowmasters which are stored outdoors. Because the crank is designed such that the top part screws into a lower pipe, the lower-end pipe catches all the rain water running down the upper portion of the adjustment crank.) Also, the correct shade of paint and the making of custom-made decals indicated that much time would pass before the plow was completely restored. Furthermore, the bottoms had lost their shiny “land polish” due to a lack of use and it would take time in the field to get the land polish back.
At the August 1993 Threshing Show of the LeSueur Pioneer Power Association, the plow was used to plow a few rounds. (These first few rounds performed by the as-yet unpainted Plowmaster, pulled by the Wells family’s 1953 Super M, can be seen in the second hour portion of Tape #8 available from International Harvester Promotional Movies.) This work did wonders for the little 100-Series Plowmaster plow. After one round, the height adjustment crank had broken loose to allow partial height adjustment. After a couple more rounds, full range of motion had returned to the height adjustment crank. Furthermore, the land polish on the bottoms started coming back. At the conclusion of the 1993 Show, the bottoms on the 100-Series Plowmaster plow were varnished with grease and the plow was stored away under a shelter for the winter.
Upon returning to West Virginia, I began to research the 100-Series Plowmaster plow and found that support services for the Oliver plow were very far advanced. Usually reprints for implements are rare and we have to rely on Swap Meets to find an original implement parts manual or operator’s manual. However, I was pleased to discover that an Operator’s Manual for the 100-Series Plowmaster plow was available from McMillian’s Oliver Collectibles, Dept. B, 9176 U.S. Route 36, Bradford, Ohio 45308, Telephone: (513) 448-2216. Contacting Kurt Aumann, Editor of Belt Pulley magazine and a member of the Hart-Parr/Oliver Collectors Association, I was put in touch with Lynn Polesch, 926 Watson St., Ripon, Wisconsin 54971-1761, Telephone: (414) 748-2366 or (414) 748-3996.
Lynn Polesch had just restored an identical 100-Series Plowmaster plow and had made all of the necessary decals. He had the two-color “Oliver” decal, the “Plowmaster” decals, and the special curved “Oliver/Raydex” decals for the back of the plow bottoms. He even had the three U.S. Patent numbers which are mounted on the back of the plow bottoms under the curved “Oliver/Raydex” decal and above the plowshare. Lynn Polesch had made a set of these decals for a friend of his and was willing to sell me a set also. We have not always found implement decals so readily available. Indeed, Lynn Polesch is attempting to develop a proper copy of the “McCormick-Deering/ Little Genius No. 8” decal so that restoration of our Little Genius plows may be completed. Although two different toy models of this plow are currently available from Ertl with the proper decals on them, there is as yet no source for a decal for the full-sized Little Genius plow.
Using C.H. Wendel’s Notebook, the author found that the proper Oliver green paint was Martin-Senour 99L-8746 and the proper red paint for the Oliver tractor wheels was Martin Senour 99N-3752. These paints can be found at any NAPA store by supplying them with the Martin-Senour numbers. Although, the Oliver red noted above is the paint recommended for the tractor wheels, I was informed that the red used on the plows made at the South Bend plant may have been slightly different from the red used on the tractor wheels manufactured at the Charles City, Iowa, Oliver tractor plant. Although this difference is very small, the exact shade for implements is easily obtained by using True Value “Tractor Red” paint which is very inexpensive and available at any True Value hardware store.
The gathering of this information proceeded much more rapidly than the author had anticipated and we began to have expectations that the 100-Series Plowmaster plow could be completed by the time of the 1994 LeSueur Pioneer Power Show. We ordered the decals and had them sent to LeSueur, Minnesota. Once again, Mark and I gathered at our parents’ home in LeSueur prior to the show to work on the restoration projects. This time the Oliver plow was at the top of the list, together with another McCormick-Deering Little Genius (this one a 2-bottom plow of the post-war variety). Cleaning, wire brushing, and priming of the Oliver plow went as planned. We obtained paints from the local NAPA store and the local True Value building supply store, and the painting and decaling were completed without difficulty. The tires on the plow looked to be original equipment, and although they were worn, they appeared to be good tires. In other words, the restoration of the Oliver plow was a dream. (This is the way that all restorations should proceed–without difficulties or unexpected problems.) The plow was finished ahead of schedule and was very flashy in appearance with the extensive number of decals. However, the plow needed to do more than just look good, it needed to perform. It needed to be worked in the fields to further polish the bottoms and to bring back the land finish to the surface of the bottoms. Accordingly, the plow was hooked up to the 1944 Farmall H and taken on a few rounds. The little plow won much praise at the 1994 Pioneer Power Threshing Show.
Only one problem regarding the Oliver plow arose at the 1994 Show: what tractor would we use to tow the Plowmaster in the parade held each day of the Threshing Show? The plow looked somewhat like an orphan among the many Wells family Farmalls. Despite the fact that the plow had never in its entire life been coupled with an Oliver tractor, it looked incomplete being towed by any tractor other than an Oliver tractor–preferably an Oliver 77 which would be an exact match for the 100-Series Plowmaster plow. (Miles Zimmerman was quick to suggest to the author that the Cletrac HG would also be an exact match for the 100-Series Plowmaster plow!) As a partial solution to this problem, it was towed behind a 1930 Model A (22-40) Oliver/Hart-Parr owned by Dave Preuhs of LeCenter, Minnesota. Although this tractor was a predecessor of the Fleetline Oliver tractor, the Model A Oliver/Hart-Parr was seventeen years older than the 100-Series Plowmaster plow and was not an exact match.
To the author, the Plowmaster still appears to be an orphan waiting for a post-1947 Fleetline Oliver tractor. Recent developments, however, suggest that this wait may be over sometime in the foreseeable future. In the summer of 1994, the Wells family obtained a “family heirloom”–a 1938 F-20 which had belonged to the late Robert Westfall, brother-in-law of Wayne Wells. Robert Westfall had farmed with this tractor until 1978 when it was abandoned in the grove on their farm near Dexter, Minnesota. While work on this “family heirloom” continues, Wells family members are already casting an eager eye toward another tractor which is still in use on the Westfall farm–an Oliver 77. As Kurt Aumann has said to the author on many occasions: “Wait until you start hearing the smooth sound of that six-cylinder engine on a regular basis. Those Farmalls may have some company.”
A two-bottom McCormick-Deering Little Genius Plow with 14-inch Bottoms
Brian Wayne Wells
As published in the September/October 1994 issue of
Belt Pulley Magazine
Antique tractor collecting is a fast growing sport. Indeed Hemmings Motor News, who promotes antique car collecting, has called tractor collecting the fastest growing sport in the nation. Old Abe’s News Summer of 1993, Vol. 8, No. 3, p. 3. As our sport grows we also notice that restoration of tractors has recently been accompanied by restoration of farm machinery.
It seems that when tractor restorers get their tractor finished they are often ready to find something to do with the tractor. Witness all the events at the various shows around the nation; i.e., beer barrel roll with a tractor, the slow tractor races, the egg breaking contest and musical chairs with tractors. The Belt Pulley, May/June 1993, Vol. 6, No. 3, p. 26; Green Magazine, October, 1993, Vol. 9, No. 10. Hence it should not surprise anyone that the restoration of farm implements should be now gaining popularity. What better way to put the restored tractor to use than to engage in field work with a restored farm implement.
The most popular starting place for implement restoration is the grain thresher. There are many “threshing” shows around the nation. Nonetheless, there is usually a surplus of tractors for the number of threshers at many shows. Where there is threshing at shows, there will be straw stacks. This has created an opening for restored balers to be operated at the show. Furthermore, shows that own their own land and grow their own grain to be threshed at the show, will offer an opportunity for exhibiters to employ their tractors in the plowing of the fields where the grain has been harvested. Therefore, plows too have become a popular restoration project.
Additionally, tractor advertising has been responsible for some of the popularity of plows as restoration projects. Down through the history of tractor advertising, the power of a tractor has been more often described in terms of the number of plow bottoms that it could pull rather than in terms of the horsepower developed by the engine. As a result, tractor advertising often shows the tractor plowing in typical farm fields. Generally, these pictures are taken from the front of the tractor about 45 degrees to the furrow side of the tractor.
Having seen many of our favorite tractors in such advertising photos, my brother and I were enthusiastically looking for a plow in the winter of 1992-1993. We dreamed of the pictures that we could take of each other on any of the Farmall tractors owned by our family. These tractors were a 1937 Farmall F-20 (Serial No. 71355), a 1944 Farmall H (Serial No. 173093), a 1945 Farmall B (Serial No. 130161), a 1951 Farmall Super C (Serial No. 116462) and a 1953 Farmall Super M ( Serial No. 31534).
At the April, 1993 LeSueur Pioneer Power Swap Meet we found and purchased a 2-bottom McCormick-Deering Little Genius plow with 14 inch bottoms. This plow had a broken clutch lift mechanism on the land wheel side and was missing both coulters. Nonetheless, the plow was restorable. We saw the plow as a possible match for either the 1937 F-20 or the 1944 H. Originally, the plow had steel wheels, but these had been cut down to be fitted with rubber tires. The furrow wheel was a 6.00 by 16 tire. However, the land wheel was fitted with 4.75 X 19″ rim.
Through the Case\International database and the purchase of another Little Genius “parts” plow from Jim Schultz of LeSueur, Minnesota we were able to replace all the broken or missing parts on the plow.
Originally, I thought that the 4.75 X 19″ land side wheel was an abnormality and had contemplated having the wheel re-cut to fit a 7.00 by 16 tire rim which is pictured in one of the newer (late 1940’s) Owners Manuals for the No. 8, Little Genius plow. Then I saw the 1941 picture of the showroom of Johnson Bros. Implement in Taylorsville, Illinois contained in the November/December 1994 issue of Red Power. (Red Power, November/December 1993, Volume 8, Number 4, p. 18.) In the foreground of that picture is a Little Genius on rubber tires and the land wheel is considerably narrower and taller than the furrow wheel. Both front wheel rims on that plow were spoke type rims. It looked almost exactly like our plow!
Although, our plow wheels were, originally, steel and were cut down to be fitted with rubber tires only after market, the person who cut the wheels down, purposely fitted land side wheel with a 4.75 X 19″ rim. He apparently tried to keep the plow looking like a rubber-tired version of the same plow as it was being sold by International Harvester. We realized the plow as it was now configured was very close to the configuration of rubber-tired plows sold in 1941. We decided to leave the land side wheel just as it existed.
Next we undertook to paint the plow. Like most McCormick-Deering equipment, the Little Genius is painted three different colors. The Farmall red, IH-2150, Martin-Senour 99-4115 or PP&G-Ditzler 71310, was no trouble to find. The blue paint, IH-1150, Martin-Senour 90R-3736, we found easily by using C.H. Wendel’s Notebook. However, the white or cream color presented more of a problem. There has been much discussion of this cream color. The most recent study done by Ken Updike in a recent issue of Red Power. (Red Power, January/February 1994, Volume 8, Number 5, p. 5). In that article he accurately states that there were many names used for the various off-whites or cream colors from 1927 down through 1985. Also none of these paints are available under the names or numbers used today. Additionally, there exist no paint chips of those paints which can be compared with paints available today.
However, we did find strong evidence that the cream color used on the plow and other McCormick-Deering implements is none other than the Cub Cadet white (IH-759-3264) which is currently available from Case/International. We found this by a rather circuitous route.
Although our plow had rubber tires on the front wheels, the trailing wheel was still a steel wheel. I have always enjoyed rubber tires more than steel wheels. (Indeed, a quote from the International Harvester movie, Keep It Moving (1940) represents my feelings. “This is where the fun begins! Up into the driver’s seat and away we go, rolling on rubber!”). Consequently, I wanted to replace the trailing wheel with a rubber-tired wheel. I worked through Matejcek Implement in Faribault and Barneveld Implement in Barneveld, Wisconsin to find a rim for the trailing wheel. There were only five of these rims left at International Harvester dealerships over the entire nation.
We obtained the one from Barneveld, Wisconsin. It had been lying around in a warehouse in Barneveld for 20 years. This is a rim that serves no other purpose in the International Harvester line of equipment, other that as a rim for the trailing wheel of the Little Genius plow. We purchased it and when it arrived we found it was painted cream colored. We found this color to be indistinguishable from the white on the hood of our Cub Cadet. We could find no place in the Cub Cadet line of equipment where this rim could be used. The rim was used only as a trailing wheel on the Little Genius. Since the rim had been indoors for all its life we concluded that it was an accurate sample of the cream color for plow wheels.
Incidentally, the Cub Cadet white was also indistinguishable from the cream color of the wheels on the toy plow offered by Ertl in its Precision Series. Apparently, the Ertl Company engineers had reached the same conclusion regarding the correct shade of cream/white for McCormick-Deering equipment.
Furthermore, it is the opinion of Clarence Griep, long time employee of the Parts Department of the H & W Dealership of New Prague, Minnesota and Larson Implement in Northfield, Minnesota that the Cub Cadet white is the same color as the cream color of the past.
Furthermore, there was a letter to the editor from Dave Brink in the March/April 1994 issue of Red Power. Red Power, March/April 1994, Volume 8, Number 6, p. 6. This letter contained a response to the Ken Updike article noted above. Dave Brink pointed out that VanSickle Paint Manufacturing Company of Lincoln, Nebraska is still offering an “International White” to be used on the impliment wheels of McCormick-Deering equipment. VanSickle is a company that dates from 1907. They are a long time supplier of paint to Tractor Supply Company and other retail farm stores. They may evev have been one of the original suppliers of paint to the Internaional Harvester Company for the painting of original equipment. When the author contacted Dave Van Eck at VanSickle, the author learned that the present shade of cream/white offered by VanSickle as its International White has not changed in history of the company. Moreover, the present International White is also sold for the Cub Cadet white to be used in restoring Cub Cadets. VanSickle also sent the author a paint chip card. The chip of the VanSickleInterntional White matches not only the Cub Cadet White we have purchased from Case/International but also matches the color of the rim of the trailing wheel on our Little Genius plow.
If Cub Cadet white has always been the color of the wheels of McCormick-Deering equipment, why then does the Cub Cadet white seem so bright in comparison to the memories that people have of this color. Indeed the author, himself has recollections of this cream color being much darker and more yellow. The reason for this discrepancy may lie in the differences between the formulas of the paints used in the past as opposed to today’s paints.
The Nitrocellulose lacquer paints used in the 1930’s, 1940’s and early 1950’s did not stand up to the weather as well as the enamel paints used today and, therefore, the darker cream or yellowish color of the wheels on the plows may have resulted from the rapid aging of the paint. Furthermore, cream is the worst offender because it shows age much faster that the other colors. This aging could have occurred even on new machinery prior to the sale at the dealership. Therefore, the new implement would appear to have a darker shade of cream color even as the new implement appeared at the dealership! There is a good discussion of tractor paints in the book How to Restore Your Farm Tractor, by Robert Pripps. Robert N. Pripps, How to Restore Your Farm Tractor, (Oseola, Wisconsin: Motorbooks International 1992) pp. 147-149.
If the cream color used by International Harvester all down through the years were the same color why were there so many different names for this paint? We don’t have an answer to this but, we know that International Harvester did engage in multiple names in at least one other occasion.
The Farmall F-12 has a power lift system which fit under the seat of the tractor. In the 1936 International Harvester promotional movie, Quickest On, Quickest Off, (1936) this lift system is shown in operation and the system is called the “power lift system.” However, just one year later in the movie, Practical Magic (1937) the system is called “the hydraulic lift system. These two systems are indistinguishable from each other in all the literature that the author has been able to locate. To add to the confusion this same single system is called the hydraulic/power lift system in the Parts manual for the F-12 and F-14.
Because International Harvester used these two names interchangeably to describe the same lift system for the F-12, we think it entirely reasonable, in the absence of contradictory evidence, to suppose that the various names used by International Harvester for the cream white color were different names for the same shade of white. Therefore, we conclude, despite even our own reservations that the Cub Cadet White, IH-759-3264, or Ditzler 8665 is the proper color for a wheels of a Little Genius plow, as that plow would have looked when it came out of the factory. The only difference will be that modern acrylic paints will mean that once the plow is repainted, will retain this like-new look for many years and not yellow with age.
We are able to put the plow to use in the fields at the LeSueur Pioneer Power site, preparing the grounds for planting of the next year’s winter wheat. When we do so using the 1937 F-20 we see, hear and smell the same experiences that our grandfather, George C. Wells might have experienced with his 1931 Regular in years 1939 through 1942. When we use the 1944 H we envision Wayne Wells plowing on the Wells farm with the Wells family 1942 H, (mentioned in The Belt Pulley, November/December 1993, Vol. 6, No. 6, p. 30) which replaced the 1931 Regular or we envision our other grandfather, Howard Hanks or our uncles Fred or Bruce Hanks “busting sod” for the first time on the Bagan farm at Le Roy, Minnesota in the early fall of 1944 with the Hanks family 1942 H. (The Belt Pulley, January/February 1994, Vol. 7, No. 1, p. 14.) For a while we can walk in the shoes of those people at those times in the past.
Belt Pulley Magazine Articles by Brian Wayne Wells