The 1955 Farmall Model 300 Tractor Bearing the Serial No. 22368.
Brian Wayne Wells
This article remains under construction. Periodically, new blocks of text will appear in the article and/or current blocks of text will be corrected.
The tricycle-style Farmall Model 300 tractor. This tractor has the optional three hydraulic levers which are attached to the hood of the tractor behind the steering wheel on the operator’s platform. From this angle the levers can be seen in this picture, just just behind the headlight. Two of these levers will control the hydraulic oil flow through the two hydraulic hoses, which are seen in this picture in front of the belt pulley. These two hoses will led to hydraulic connectors on the rear of the tractor to be used for remote hydraulic cylinders on any farm equipmdnt that might be towed by the tractor. The third lever is probably for the fast hitch on the tractor.
Introduction of the “letter-series” tractors actually began on June 21, 1939 with the full scale production of the Farmall Model A tractor at the company’s “Tractor Works” factory located at 24th Street and Western Avenue in Chicago, Illinois. During the last half of 1939, the Tractor Works would turn out 6,243 Farmall Model A tractors and the next year–1940 (the first full year of production)–the Chicago factory would manufacture 34,756 Farmall Model A tractors.
However, the real action in Farmall tractor production was occurring across the State of Illinois on the Mississippi River at Rock, Island, Illinois. In Rock Island, at the company’s “Farmall Works” facility the larger Farmall tractors which held the future of the company, were being produced. The three-plow Farmall M, which was the largest of the row-crop tractors of all the letter series tractors, began production on July 15, 1939 at the huge “Farmall Works” factory. The Farmall Model H tractor began production on its own assembly line within the Farmall Works.
As noted in other articles at this website, when the two-plow Farmall H began production on July 21, 1939, the Model H quickly became the leading seller in the Farmall line of tractors, immediately out-selling the larger Farmall M. (In 1939, 10,152 Farmall Model H’s were made and sold as opposed to only 6,739 Farmall M’s) There were at multiple assembly lines in the large Farmall Works facility. One of the assembly lines in the Farmall Works was dedicated to production of the Farmall H, while production of the Farmall M was performed on another assembly line in another part of the factory.
Observers had long expected that the larger and more powerful three-plow tractor of the letter series, the Farmall Model M would outsell the two-bottom Model H. However, from the very start of the production run of the letter series in the summer of 1939, the Farmall Model H proved to be the most popular selling tractor of the series. With the exception of the single year of 1947, this would remain the situation until 1949.
During the years that followed the introduction of the letter-series tractors, production of the Farmall H continued to outstrip production of the Farmall M in the years that followed. (41,734 Farmall H’s were made in the modelyear 1940 and 40,850 were made in 1941. During the same years, production of the larger Farmall M was limited to only 18,131 in 1940 and 25,617 in 1941.) These were the glory years of tractor production for the Farmall Model H.
However, with the coming of the Second World War, the United States government began to restrict the use of raw materials and manufacturing capacity for anything but the war effort. Civilian manufacturing was greatly curtailed during the war years. Accordingly, in model year 1942, production of the Farmall Model H at International Harvesters‘ Farmall Works in Rock Island, Illinois fell to 29,353. In 1943, production of the Model H fell to 27,661 tractors. In 1944, production rose again to 35,872, but still did not reach the pre-war production figures. Production in 1945 was 28,697 Farmall H’s. Even with the end of the war, the number of Farmall Model H’s rolling off the Model H assembly line at the huge Rock Island Farmall Works facility in 1946, still was limited to 26,343 Farmall H’s. (During these same immediate post-war years, production of the Farmall M lagged behind at 9,025 tractors in 1942; 7,413 Farmall Model M’s in 1943; and 20,661 Model M’s in 1944; 17,479 in 1945; 17,259 in 1946 and 28,885 in 1947.)
However, as the demand for bigger and more efficient farm equipment grew in the post-war years, farmers turned to buying larger farm tractors like the Farmall Model M. As a result the sales gap between the Model H and the Model M sales narrowed and in 1947 sales of the Farmall M reached 28,885 tractors and actually surpassed sales of the Farmall H (27,848 Farmall H’s in 1947) for the first time. After falling behind the Model H in sales for the year 1948, (31,885 Farmall Model H’s as opposed to 28,806 Model M’s were manufactured in 1948), the Model M once again took the lead in the sales and production again in 1949 with 33,065 Farmall M’s rolling off the Model M assembly line while only 27,099 Farmall H’s rolled off the Model H assembly line at the Farmall Works facility in Rock Island, Illinois. This time the Model M would continue to lead the Farmall H in production figures for the remainder of the production run of the letter-series tractors. (In 1950, production of the Model M reached 33,939 tractors. In 1951, a record, 43,405 Farmall M tractors were made and sold.
In 1952, the International Harvester Company replaced the Farmall Model M with the new Farmall Super M. Early in the production year of 1952 the Farmall Works factory in Rock Island, Illinois made 7,295 Farmall M tractors before the factory was closed down for retooling and preparation for the production of the Super M. International Harvester actually built 12,015 Super M’s at the Farmall Works in Rock Island, Illinois in the latter part of the 1952 production year. (An additional 1,905 Super M’s built at the newly constructed factory located in Louisville, Kentucky.)
Meanwhile, on the Farmall H assembly line at the same Rock Island factory, 23,948 Farmall Model H’s rolled off the Model H assembly line in 1950; 23,938 followed in 1951 and an identical number of 23,938 were made in 1952. Accordingly, after the first three years of production of the Farmall H–1939-1941, production of the Farmall Model H became much more consistent during the 11 years from 1942 through 1952. During these 11 years the average yearly production of Farmall Model H’s was 27,871 Model H’s per year, or 2,323 every month during this period of time. If we assume that the average month consists of 20 working days excluding weekends and holidays the daily production of Farmall H’s during this period was 116 tractors each work day.
Additionally, 727 Farmall H’s were made in 1953 bringing the total number of Farmall H’s manufactured during the entire production run from 1939 through 1953 to 391,227 individual tractors. Of course, in 1953, the International Harvester Company replaced the Farmall Model H with a the Farmall Model Super H. So after making the 727 Farmall H’s in the early part of the production year of 1953– the Farmall Works facility closed down for a retooling of the H assembly line. Following the retooling of the H assembly line, the Farmall Works produced 21,707 individual Super H tractors in the latter part of 1953.
Adding the 1953 production of Farmall H’s with the 1953 production of Super H’s together,results in the combined production figure of 22,434 individual tractors that came off the Farmall H assembly line at the Rock Island Farmall Works in 1953. This combined production figure for 1953 was only 5,437 less that the average yearly production of the Farmall H assembly line in the Farmall Works facility. The loss of production time in 1953 from the average production year appears to be the equivalent of two-months and seven working days. This was probably the amount of time that was needed for a skeleton crew of workers to retool the Farmall H assembly line at the Farmall Works to begin full production of the Super H.
This article has been referring to the term “production year.” If the “production year” coincided with the calendar year, it would logical to assume that the 1953 production of 727 Farmall H’s occurred over the first six days in January, 1953. However, it is more likely that the 1953 production figures are not for the “calendar year” of 1953, but rather are for the “production or model year” of 1953. Tractors did not change styling on an annual basis the way that automobiles were starting to do annually in the post-World War period, but tractors were starting follow a “model year” system like automobiles rather than following a traditional calendar year system. Under the model year system,new model automobiles were introduced in September of the previous year rather than on January 1st of the current year. However, the model year in tractors would need to begin in August of each year, especially for model years that involved substantive changes in the model of tractor. The reason was that State Fairs around the nation offered the best opportunity for tractor manufacturers to advertise their new tractors to the nation’s farming public. State Fairs created a great deal of excitement and were an advertising opportunity that tractor manufacturers simply could not afford to miss. Especially favored by tractor manufacturers was the nation’s largest agricultural fair–the Minnesota State Fair–which was held over the last ten (10) days before Labor Day each year.the model year in tractors would need to begin in August of each year, especially for model years that involved substantive changes in the model of tractor. The reason was that State Fairs around the nation offered the best opportunity for tractor manufacturers to advertise their new tractors to the nation’s farming public. State Fairs created a great deal of excitement and were an advertising opportunity that tractor manufacturers simply could not afford to miss. Especially favored by tractor manufacturers was the nation’s largest agricultural fair–the Minnesota State Fair–which was held over the last ten (10) days before Labor Day each year.the model year in tractors would need to begin in August of each year, especially for model years that involved substantive changes in the model of tractor. The reason was that State Fairs around the nation offered the best opportunity for tractor manufacturers to advertise their new tractors to the nation’s farming public. State Fairs created a great deal of excitement and were an advertising opportunity that tractor manufacturers simply could not afford to miss. Especially favored by tractor manufacturers was the nation’s largest agricultural fair–the Minnesota State Fair–which was held over the last ten (10) days before Labor Day each year. The reason was that State Fairs around the nation offered the best opportunity for tractor manufacturers to advertise their new tractors to the nation’s farming public. State Fairs created a great deal of excitement and were an advertising opportunity that tractor manufacturers simply could not afford to miss. Especially favored by tractor manufacturers was the nation’s largest agricultural fair–the Minnesota State Fair–which was held over the last ten (10) days before Labor Day each year. The reason was that State Fairs around the nation offered the best opportunity for tractor manufacturers to advertise their new tractors to the nation’s farming public. State Fairs created a great deal of excitement and were an advertising opportunity that tractor manufacturers simply could not afford to miss. Especially favored by tractor manufacturers was the nation’s largest agricultural fair–the Minnesota State Fair–which was held over the last ten (10) days before Labor Day each year.s largest agricultural fair–the Minnesota State Fair–which was held over the last ten (10) days before Labor Day each year.s largest agricultural fair–the Minnesota State Fair–which was held over the last ten (10) days before Labor Day each year.
Accordingly, we might conclude that full production run of the Farmall Super H was begun in early August of 1952 to have sufficient time to get examples of the new Super H off the production line and shipped to the Minneapolis/St. Paul Minnesota “block house” (the International Harvester Company-owned distribution warehouse located at 2572 University Avenue in the midtown area between the two cities. Ordinarily, the staff at the block house would be hurriedly re-shipping the tractors they received from the Farmall Works to the various dealerships around Minnesota who they served. However, in this case the block house staff would be instructed to not ship any Super Hs out to their dealership until after the official introduction of the Super H at the large International Harvester tent on the State Fairgrounds on the first day of the State Fair.
Television in the early 1950 helped create even more excitement around the Minnesota State Fair. Tractor Manufacturers could not pass up the advertising possibilities to reach the farming public available at the Minnesota State Fair. Here KSTP Channel 9 television out of Minneapolis at the State Fair adds to the excitement and advertising possibilities of the State fair in the 1950s.
It was well advertised that the Model Super H had more horse power (hp.) than the regular Farmall Model H. (Testing in Nebraska had shown the new Super H to turn out 30.68 hp. at the drawbar and 33.40 hp. at the belt pulley. While the regular Model H had created only 24.17 hp. at the drawbar and 26.40 at the belt pulley.) However, one small difference that probably went unnoticed at the State Fair, was the fact that the wheel base of the Super H was about an inch longer that the regular H. (89.25 inches for the Super H and 88.325 inches for the regular H) a single inch added to the wheel base would hardly be noticeable to anyone. This was a sign that the addition of live hydaulics as an option to the Super H had made space along the top of the power train and inside the transmission case extremely limited. The H needed to be totally redesigned in the near future. Thus, it was no surprise that for the model year 1955,International Harvester Company replaced the Farmall Super H in their line of farm tractors with the Farmall Model 300 tractor.
Once again the “model year” of 1955 actually began in 1954. A book written by Guy Fay and Andy Kraushaar called Original Farmall Hundred Series 1954-1958 reveals that IHC records show that production of the Farmall 300 began in November of 1954. During November and December of 1954 the records in the Fay and Kraushaar book have 1,182 Model 300 tractors built in November and 1,677 Model 300 tractors built in December of 1954. Like the Model Super H, production of the Farmall 300 was also short lived. Clearly, in this case, no Model 300 tractors were available for the 1954 Minnesota State Fair. The introduction of the Farmall Model 300 to the Minnesota State Fair had to wait until August of 1955.
(Coincidentally, the current author attended this fair as a six year old child. along with his parents, the late Wayne A. Wells, Marilyn (Hanks) Wells, four year old brother, Mark Wells, and and three-year old sister, Eileen Wells. Also attending was the current author’s Uncle John Hanks and his Aunt Hildreth Hanks and the family’s good friend Rhona Fitzpatrick. A good time was had by all!! For the current author and his siblings it was a marvelous adventure. brother The family slept out in a series of camping tents in the campground at the State Fair. One of the first exhibits the family saw was the early show at the International Harvester tent. It was quite a show as the Fast-Hitch 300 tractor was shown hitching and unhitching rapidly to the music of a square dance. Later years at the big International Harvester tent would have the would have Farmall tractors driven through their famous square dance without the Fast Hitch implements, but 1955 was different. The Fast Hitch on the 300 had to be demonstrated for the farming public in attendance. The visit to the State Fair was repeated again in 1956 and threatened to become an annual event. However, in 1957, Uncle John went into the United States Army and the current author’s immediate family rode a passenger train to Elyria, Ohio to see Aunt Hildreth and pick up a new 1957 Plymouth station wagon. In 1958 the family took the new car on an extensive trip to Seattle , Washington, and back. The family would not see the State Fair again until 1959. By this time the Farmall tractors had changed appearance dramatically and the big top tent at the International Harvester exhibit now featured International Model 340 crawlers doing the famous square dance.)
While the production run of the Model 300 continued for the entire twelve months of 1955 and continued into 1956, production of the 300 ceased in August of 1956. As a result, the production run of the successor to the Farmall 300 (the Farmall Model 350) did not—according to Fay and Kraushaar’s beautiful book–begin until the November of 1956.
The model year of 1955, saw the introduction of the whole line of the “Hundred Series” tractors by the International Harvester Company. The Hundred Series line of tractors included the larger Model 400 and the smaller Model 200 and Model 100 tractor in addition to the Model 300.
The production figures of the Farmall Super H and the Farmall 300 are confusing because both Super H and the 300 were produced for only one entire model year each–1952 and 1954, respectively. Every year has 250 working days excluding Saturday and Sunday of each of 52 weeks in the year. By using the serial numbers index we can determine how many tractors can be built in a single day at the Rock Island Tractor Works. Whether the tractor was the Farmall H or the Farmall Super H or the Farmall 300, the average daily production figure was 85 tractors per day. As noted above, instead of the January to January, calendar year we must consider the model year which for reasons stated above, must be considered rather than the calendar year. Instead, of January 1, we look at the August 1 as the beginning of the new model year. Following this procedure we can determine that the 1955 model year of the Farmall 300 began on August 1, 1954. and ended on August 1, 1955. At the rate of production of 85 tractors built per day, the production of the Farmall 300 bearing the Serial No. 22368 occurred on the Monday, July 18, 1955. Just 10 days prior to the start of the new model year of August, 1955-August, 1956.
When the new Farmall 300 was made available to the public, there were a number of options that were available for the 300. These options had not been available on predecessors of the 300, i.e. the Farmall Super H or the Farmall H. First, one of the most common options available on the Farmall 300 was the newly developed “Torque Amplifier” or “T.A.” After being available in 1954 on the Farmall Super MTA tractor during the short production run of the Super MTA in 1954, the T.A. option was made available on “Hundred Series” tractors, e.g. the Model 400 and Model 300 etc., when the Hundred Series was introduced in the 1955 model year.
The 1955 Farmall Model 300 bearing the Serial No. 22368 was first purchased by a farm family from Carver County and probably purchased from an International Harvester dealership in the county seat of Chaska . The tractor seems to have been equipped at the factory with every single piece of optional equipment that had been made available for the Model 300. Besides the Torque Amplifier option which is described above, No. 22368 is fitted with the optional three hydraulic valve levers located on the right side of the dash board on the operator’s platform.
The optional set of three levers means that the particular tractor is equipped with three independent and “live” hydraulic valves on the tractor. Each lever controls the hydraulic oil valve that regulates the flow of oil pumped down a hose to any cylinder located on the tractor or located “remotely” on an implement being towed by the tractor. The hydraulics on the Hundred Series Farmalls are independent “live hydraulics.” This means that the hydaulics will operate even when the foot clutch on tractor is depressed or disengaged.
By the time that No. 22368 was purchased in the spring of 2018 by Wells Family Tractors, a Model 33A McCormick-Deering hydraulic loader had been mounted on the tractor. Accordingly, the lever nearest the dash board controlled the valve that directed hydraulic oil down the hoses to the cylinders located on the arms of the loader which would allow the loader to raise the bucket which was attached to the arms at the front of the tractor.
In addition to being independent hydraulic cylinders on either side of the Model 33A loader controlled by the inside lever of the three hydraulic control levers on the right side of the dash board on the operator’s platform. The hydraulic cylinders were also “two-way” cylinders. This means that the cylinders on the arms of the loader can apply pressure and power in both directions–when contracting as well as when extending. Lifting the loader is effected by pulling back on the “inside” hydraulic control lever nearest the dashboard. When the same lever is pushed forward the cylinders on the loader can be contracted under power so that the bucket is pressed against the ground and the front wheels of the tractor can be lifted off the ground.
As noted above, the outside hydraulic lever–furthest from the dashboard–to raise and lowers the Fast-Hitch drawbar. The cylinder controlling the Fast Hitch drawbar is also a two-way hydraulic cylinder. Thus, if a person places a couple of large cement blocks under the the drawbar and then lowers the drawbar under power, the rear wheels can be raised off the ground. Furthermore, because the three hydraulic valves are all independent of each other the operator of the tractor could lift the front wheels of the tractor off the ground by manipulating the lever course nearest the dashboard and at same time lift the rear wheels of the tractor off the ground by manipulating the outside hydraulic lever–furthest from the dashboard–to lower the Fast Hitch drawbar onto the cement blocks.
Of course, the middle lever of the three-lever set, on No. 22368, controls yet another hydraulic valve that can also act independently and can apply power in a two-way manner. However, more discussion of the use made of the middle hydraulic lever of the three-lever set on No. 22368 can be found below.
Yet another option which was factory-installed on No. 22368 is the optional power steering. The operator of No. 22368 becomes aware of the fact that the International Company installed power steering on the tractor before the operator has even started the engine. Right in front of the operator at middle of the on the steering wheel is a little light weight aluminum disc bearing the woords “Power Steering.”
Because this power steering insignia was made of light weight aluminum and was mounted on the steering wheel, the aluminum insignia stood the risk of easily becoming damaged even under ordinary tractor use.
Additionally, the cylinders on the Model 33A loader mounted on No. 22368 are “two-way” hydraulic cylinders. This means that the cylinder can apply pressure and power in both directions–when contracting as well as when extending. This means that the cylinders on the loader can be contracted under power so that the bucket is pressed against the ground and the front wheels of the tractor can be lifted off the ground. The other two hydraulic valve levers of the optional three-lever set on No. 22368 can be connected to hoses leading to other hydraulic cylinders. (Indeed later in this same article discussion will had of connections made to the middle hydraulic lever.)
However, the third lever of the set of three (the outside lever located the furthest from the dash board of the tractor) is connected to the optional Fast Hitch drawbar of No, 22368. The optional Fast Hitch drawbar on the Hundred Series tractors is usually painted white and can be raised and lowered by hydraulics controlled by the third (outside) valve lever. This leaves the middle (or second) lever of the three hydraulic levers on No.