A 1945 J. I. Case Company Model SC Tractor in Belgrade Township, Nicollet County, Minnesota

The 1945 Case Model SC Tractor in Nicollet County, Minnesota

by

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 J. I. Case Company Model SC tractor.

The J. I. Case Company introduced their first tricycle-style tractor—the Model CC tractor in 1929.  The CC weighed 4,240 lbs. (pounds) and produced 27.37 hp. (horsepower) to the belt pulley and 17.33 hp. to the drawbar.  The CC was advertised as a tractor that could pull a two-bottom plow with 14 inch bottoms.  So the Model CC could perform all the heavy tillage work in the fields of the average farm, just like the “four-wheel” or “standard” tractors that Case had offered the farming public before 1929.  These four-wheel tractors could do all the field work on the farms of North America except one field task–the cultivation of row-crops.  Thus, even with a standard type tractor, the North America farmer could get rid of a large number of horses on the farm that were required for heavy tillage and seed-bed preparation in the Spring of each year.  However, the farmer would have to retain  enough horses necessary for cultivation of the row-crops on the farm.  With the introduction of “row crop” or tricycle style tractors, the North American farmer was able to purchase one of these row crop tractors, like the Case Model CC.  Then, the farmer would then be able to get rid of all the horses on his farm and farm in a fully mechanized way.  Thus, the Model CC could be used to provide all the power on the farm to perform all the field work over the whole growing season.

A view of the right side of the Case Model CC tractor.  Early versions of the Model CC Case tractor weighed just 3, 640 pounds and had a maufacturer’s suggested price of just $1.025.

 

The most unique feature about all the Case Model CC was the steering rod than located outside the hood of the tractor on the left side of the tractor.  This rod extended along the left side of the tractor to the front wheels  the tractor.  Because this looked like a convenient place for the chickens, on the farm, to roost during the night, this rod became popularly known as “chicken’s roost.”   Over the entire production from 1929 until 1939, 29,824 Model CC tractors were made.

A left side view of the Case Model CC tractor, showing the unique “chickens roost” style steering rod which was a famous feature of Case tractors.

 

In 1939, the CC was “styled,” modernized and the engine was upgraded in horsepower to a full 32.92 hp. at the belt pulley or the and 24.39 hp. at the drawbar. The tractor was re-designated as the new Case Model DC-3 tricycle style tractor.  Instead of being painted gray like the Model CC, the Model DC-3 was painted a reddish-orange color that the J. I. Case Company called “Flambeau Red.”  The DC-3 had a new Case-built engine with a 3-7/8 inch bore and a 5 ½ inch stroke, was commonly fitted with 11.25 by 38 inch rubber tires and weighed 7,010 lbs. Case advertised the DC-3 tractor as a “full three-plow  tractor.”  This meant that the DC-3 could pull a three–bottom plow even with 16 inch bottoms in most plowing conditions.   By 1944, the suggested retail price of the DC was $1,270 as mounted on rubber tires.  During the entire production run of the Model DC-3 from 1939 until 1955, 54,925 DC-3 tractors were manufactured by the J.I. Case Company, or about 3,433 Model DC-3’s per year.

The Case Model DC-3 tractor replaced the Model CC in the Case line of row-crop tractors in 1939.

 

With the introduction of the DC-3 and the phasing out of the Model CC tractor there was a vacancy in the “two-plow” class of tractors within the J. I. Case Company tractor line.   Accordingly, in 1940, one year after the introduction of the DC-3, the J.I. Case Company introduced the Model SC tractor. The Model SC weighed 4,200 lbs., was fitted with a 2.7 liter four-cylinder engine with a 3 ½ inch bore and a 4 inch stroke which  delivered 21.62. hp to the belt pulley and 16.18 hp. to the drawbar.  The Model SC was painted Flambeau Red to match the Model DC-3 and retained the hand clutch, the same “chicken’s roost” style steering rod of the Model CC and the Model DC-3 and retained the 11.25 by 38 inch rear rubber tires of the Model DC-3.  However, the Model SC could be purchased for a much lower price than the DC-3.  Many farmers took advantage of this price difference to purchase the Model SC tractor and the Model SC tractor became the best-selling tractor of the Case Flambeau Red line of tractors.  Over its shorter production run (from 1940 until 1955), a total of 58,991 Model SC tractors (or about 3,933 Model SC’s per year) were produced and sold by the company—this is a total of 4,066 more SC’s produced by the Case Company than the total number of DC-3 tractors produced over the longer production run of the DC-3.  In other words from 1940 until 1955. there were about 500 more SC tractors produced each year than there were Model DC-3 tractors during the same period of time.

Among the tractors that flowed out of the J.I. Case Main Works in Racine, Wisconsin and arrived in local Case dealerships across the nation, was the two-plow Case Model SC tractor. In the years before the Second World War and in the immediate post-war years the Model SC actually outsold the larger DC-3 Case tractor.

 

Of course not every year of the production run from 1940 until 1955 was like the next.  History intervened, during this period of time, in the form of the Second World War, history from 1939 until 1955.  Involvement of the United States in the Second World War dated from the surprise bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 by the Japanese Imperial forces.  Following the Pearl Harbor attack, most heavy industrial companies, like the J. I. Case Company were required by the United States government to join the war effort, as the country fought a desperate war in two separate theaters of operations (Europe and the Pacific).  Production of civilian goods gave way to production for the war effort.  However, it took some time for the various companies to be assigned their government military contracts and to start producing wartime materials. For the Case Company production of farm tractors at their factory located in Racine, Wisconsin tapered off somewhat gradually in favor of war materials for the war effort.  The factory at Racine was called the “Main Works.”  During the war, the “Main Works” became involved in the production of bombs and artillery shells, doors for the Sherman tank and parts for the B-26 bomber.

The limited amount of tractors that were produced during the war, rolled off the assembly line at the Main Works were assigned a serial numbers in sequence regardless of the model. There are no separate serial numbers for the S-series, the D-series or the V-series tractors.  The first two numbers of any Case tractor serial number designates the year in which the tractor was assembled at the Main Works.  Even these first two numbers are hidden in some obscurity.   If the first two numbers of a particular are 44, this does not mean the tractor was produced in 1944.  Four years must be subtracted from the first two numbers of every serial number to arrive at the actual production year of the tractor.  Thus, the digits of “44,” in the serial number example cited above, stand for 1940—not for 1944.

A picture showing the location of the Serial Number tag squarely on the “dash board” of the Case Model SC tractor.

 

Accordingly, in the fifth year of the Model SC production run , a particular Model SC rolled aff the assembly line at the Main Works bearing the Serial Number 4911952.  The first two digits of this particular serial number indicate that the tractor was manufactured at the Main Works in 1945.  Since production in the year 1945 began with the serial number 4900001.  Production of the Model SC with the Serial No. 4911952 must have been produced rather late in the year, 1945.  Indeed a good guess might be that it was produced in December of 1945.

The war years from 1941 until 1945 also brought changes to the Case dealership in Mankato, Minnesota as the Cutkowski dealership became a partnership. The “Cutkowski dealership” had begun its  existence as the J.I. Case Company dealership.  Harry Cutkowski began working at the dealership at mechanic.  In 1936, he became the sole proprietor of the dealership.  In the years before the entry of the United States into the Second World War, the Cutkowski dealership had made a great reputation for itself all across southern Minnesota and northern Iowa.  Now in during the war, Harry Cutkowski took on  Earnest  Allen Jones as a partner.

Earnest and Vivian Maude (Baldwin) moved to Mankato, Minnesota in 1936 shortly after Harry Cutkowsky had purchased the J.I. Case delaership in Mankato.   Earnest Jones had been employed as a shipping clerk at the J.I. Company Case Company factory in Racine, Wisconsin.  As the shipping clerk at the Racine factory, Earnest had become perfectly aware of the pre-war sales success of the Cutkowsky dealership in Mankato, Minnesota.  Thus, when Harry Cutkowsky offered to employ Earnest as the manager of his new proprietorship, Earnest jumped at the chance to manage the successful dealership.

By the time that No. 4911952 arrived at the J.I. Case dealership around New Years Day of 1946, Earnest had become a partner and the dealership was known as the “Cutkowsky and Jones” dealership.

As consistent readers of this blog will remember, in December of 1945, another partnership had been formed to start a J.I. Case dealership in another small Minnesota town.  This was the parnership of Duane Wetter and Merle Krinke who were forming a dealership in LeRoy, Minnesota.  During December of 1945, Merle Krinke and Duane Wetter were busy buying property in the small town of LeRoy, Minnesota to establish what would become the local Case dealership called the “LeRoy Equipment Company.”  (See the two part series of articles called “The Rise and Decline of the LeRoy Equipment Dealership.” contained at this website.)  The  new dealership of LeRoy Equipment Company was due to open on Tuesday January 29, 1946 and was in drastic need of an inventory of new Case farm tractors and Case farm machinery.  Accordingly, the Model SC tractor bearing the serial number 4911952 could have been sent to this new dealership in LeRoy, Minnesota, to help the new dealership get off the ground.

If 4911852 had been sent to the LeRoy Equipment Company dealership, the tractor might have ended up on the Walter and Clarence Hanson farm three miles east of the village of LeRoy.  As  it was Walter and Clarence Hanson had to wait until sometime after March 10, 1947 for a subsequent Model SC to arrive at the LeRoy Equipment Company to purchase their Model SC tractor.

The Case Main Tractor Works in Racine, Wisconsin was still trying to struggle with the retooling process to convert to production of civilian farm equipment products  The Case Corporation was hardpressed for funds.  Thus, the decision was made to sent No. 4911952 to the veteran dealership with a big reputation for sales (Cutkowski and Jones dealership in Mankato, Minnesota) rather than to a new startup  dealership (the LeRoy Equipment Company in LeRoy, Minnesota) with no reputation at all–yet.  Accordingly, No. 4911952  was sent to the Cutkowski and Jones  partnership dealership” located at 202 No. Main Street in Mankato, Minnesota.

Then the United States was attacked at Pearl Harbor in December of 1941.  Like nearly all other manufacturing concerns the Case Company was  greatly curtailed in its production of civilian materials including tractors and farm machinery by the government.  For the duration  of the war all manufacturing was to be directed toward the war effort in Europe and the Pacific.

With the return of peace in September of 1945, production of the tractors had just begun again. J. I. Case Company was still  struggling to retool for full time civilian production.  On December 26, 1945, shortly after No. 4911952 rolled off the assembly line in Racine, Wisconsin, the Case Tractor Works at Racine, Wisconsin was hit by a labor strike by the United Auto Workers.  This labor strike continued for fifteen more months until March 10, 1947.

This 1936 photo shows the J. I. Case Tractor Plant which was located just south of Racine, near today’s intersection of highways 11 and 32. From December 26, 1945 until March 10, 1947 the UAW (United Auto Workers) union conducted a labor strike against the Tractor Works which resoulted in a total halt of production of tractors for Case tractors until March 10, 1947.

 

During the whole period of the strike, the Case Tractor Works was totally closed down and did not produce a single farm tractor.  Finally on March 10, 1947 the United Auto Workers and the Case Company signed a new labor collective bargaining agreement and the labor strike ended.  Finally, production of farm tractors was begun again at the Case Tractor Works in Racine Wisconsin.

When No. 4911952 arrived at the Cutkowsky dealership just after New Years Days of 1946, the dealership had already been approached by a potential buyer for the little Model SC tractor.  This potential buyer was a farmer of a 160-acre farm in Belgrade Township in Ncollet County, Minnesota.  This was our Belgrade Township farmer.

 

A township map of Nicollet County  showing the location of Belgrade Township in the southern most or lowest most point on the map.

 

Our Belgrade Township farmer’s mother had inherited the 160 acre farm upon the death of her husband (our Belgrade Township farmer’s  father).  Even before the death of his father, our Belgrade Township farmer was had actively been operating the farm: planting the crops, spending endless hours cultivating the corn crop and finally harvesting the crops on behalf of his mother.

Prior to the death of his father, our Belgrade Township farmer, had  been anticipating obtaining a farm of his own and, indeed, he had been dating a young girl.  Together they had talked of getting married and getting a house of their own .  However, at the time of the death of his father,  our Belgrade Township farmer and this girl friend had drifted apart.  At the time, he suspected that this distance that grew up between he and this girl was brought about by her recognition that our Belgrade Township farmer would be forced into handling the farm of his father and moving into his mother’s house

Later, however,  he had met and married his current wife, and he and his new wife had, indeed, had moved into the house of his mother, because neither of his two younger brothers was prepared to .  However, both of his younger brothers were almost ten years younger than our Belgrade Township farmer and were, at time of their father’s death, much too young to operate the whole farm by themselves.  handle the they

In late

Production of the Model SC Case continued until 1954.  Over the full production run of the Model SC tractor, from 1940 until 1954, a total of 58991 individual SC tractors were made.

The Model SC tractor bearing the Serial Number 4911952 lwas shipped to the Cutkowski and Jones Case equipment dealership in Mankato, Minnesota.

 

This  and eventually sold to a particular farmer operating a farm in western Belgrade Township about 3 or 4 miles to the north of North Mankato on County Road #8 in Nicollet County Minneota.  This was the farm of our Belgrade Township farmer.   Sold into bankruptcy and No. 4911952 was sold to an auction house in Mankato kept No. 4911952 inside a storage shed or garage until an auction was held a couple months later.  At the auction, Ken Weilage purchased No. 4911925 and a couple of other tractors and took the tractors to his 5-acre hobby farm located on the east side of the Hwy. #169 between Mankato and St. Peter, Minnesota.

This hobby farm had originally been a working farm but in the 1960s the arable land of the farm was surveyed and separated from the building site of the farm.  The arable land was then sold to a neighboring farmer and the building site was sold to man who worked as a financial services manager named Ken Wielage (Tel: [507] 625-4810), who also had a hobby of collecting and restoring old farm tractors.  At this stage, No. 4911952 went through its first repainting and restoration.  Once the restoration was complete, the tractor was driven by Ken Weilage in a number of parades.  In about 1990 the tractor was sold to group of about ten (10) neighbors, who all lived along Washington Boulevard on the shore of Lake Washington, near the village of Madison Lake, Minnesota.  This group of neighbors included John Pfau, the owner of a number of Taco John restaurant franchised in Mankato, St. Peter and New Ulm and was the person who actually found the tractor was for sale by Ken Wielage, the late Ernie Weber, Gordon Strusz (at 4524 Washington Blvd. Madison Lake, Minnesota and Tel. [507] 243-3380); Ray Dumbrowski; and  John D. Jacoby who became the person who was most involved with the operation storage and repair of the tractor for the last 20 years.  At first, Washington Boulevard was a gravel rode.  The neighbors used No. 4911952 to pull an old steel-wheeled grader up and down Washington Boulevard to grade and maintain the road and the tractor was used twice a year to put the neighbors docks in Lake Washington in the spring and pulling the docks out of the waster in the autumn.

In 2013 through 2015 No. 4911952 was displayed on the Mike McCabe farm as a tractor for sale and there was seen by the current author in April of 2015 was and purchased for the Wells Family Farms collection of restored tractors. No. 4911952 is currently undergoing its second restoration.

 

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