Our Problematic Massey Harris 44

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“Our Problematic Massey-Harris 44”


Fred Hanks

with Introduction and Remarks by Brian Wayne Wells

as published in the July/August 1993 issue of

Belt Pulley Magazine

Fred J. Hanks, on the left, and his father, Howard B. Hanks, clown a bit as they take the rebuilt engine block for the Massey-Harris model 44 tractor from the car to garage/workshop. The engine block has been uptown during this second overhaul of the 44 in the winter of 1960-1961 to be bored out to support larger pistons and sleeves to bring the displacement of the engine up to 288 cubic inches.



            My uncle, Fred J. Hanks farms in southern Minnesota.  He has restored numerous tractors.  Three of these restoration projects, a John Deere 620, a John Deere 630 and a John Deere model H were referred to in a magazine article he wrote for Green Magazine (Volume 9, No. , January, 1993, page  27.).  Another restoration project, a Massey-Harris 30 will be featured iin an upcoming issue of Wild Harvest.  Additionally, another project a 1950 Massey-Harris 22 was featured on the cover of a recent Minnesota Edition of  Fastline magazine, (Volume 6, Issue 7, February 1993).  The Massey-Harris 22 was one of two Masseys that used to share work with a John Deere model D on the Hanks farm from 1951 until 1966.  The other Massey, besides the model 22 was a 1951 Massey-Harris 44 which is pictured herein.

I have fond memories of the the 44 from my childhood.  However,  as this article will relate, my youth removed me from the harsh realities of the situation.  The following information was provided by me Uncle Fred and gathered in conversations in August 1992 and April of 1993.


Massey-Harris 44

Looking west inside the garage/workshop we see Fred J. Hanks standing on the right overlooking the empty frame of the Massey-Harris 44. The hood, gas tank, radiator, engine etc. of the tractor have all been removed. Howard B. Hanks stands at the work bench on the left. Straight ahead is the wood stove which is no doubt been loaded with wood and is burning with a nice robust fire on this cold winter’s day in the winter of 1960-1961.

The Massey-Harris 44 was selected after a comparison with similar row-crop tractors available from any of the five (5) tractor dealerships doing business in the small town of Leroy, Minnesota in 1951 (1950 pop. 730).  The Seese and Oksanen Implement dealership sold International Harvester Farmall tractors, the Farmers Co-operative operated the John Deere dealership, the Regan Ford car dealership also sold Ford  tractors, the LeRoy Equipment Company owned by the partnership of Merle Krinke and Duane Wetter sold Case tractor, and by 1951 Stub Orke had left the Regan Ford dealership to establish a new Massey-Harris dealership.  The Massey Harris 44 had the highest horsepower rating at the PTO shaft of any the other comparable tractors from the other four dealerships in town.  This is established in C. H. Wendel’s Nebraska Tractor Tests (1985) which shows that the Massey Harris model 44 delivered 40 hp. to the PTO shaft (Nebraska Test 389 [1947]); while the Case model DC delivered 32.94 hp. to the PTO shaft (Nebraska Tests 340[1940]); the Farmall model M delivered 33.46 hp. to the PTO shaft (Nebraska Test 328 [1939]); and the John Deere model A delivered 33.82 hp. to the PTO shaft (Nebraska Test 384]).

Based on this information we made the decision in 1951 to trade our 1942 steel wheeled Farmall model H in to the Stub Orke Massey-Harris dealership on the purchase of a new Massey-Harris 44.  Later, we found the horsepower developed by the engine in the tractor would not transfer to the rear wheels as pulling power,  We found that the to   comparable  m are 44 was include  of  00° longitude meridian line runs north and south over the states of North Dakota, light in the rear end and, thus, too heavy in the front.  Additionally, the PTO shaft, itself, was located too high on the rear end of the tractor to be convenient for most applications.  Continue reading Our Problematic Massey Harris 44