Dairy Farming in Eastern Massachusetts (Part II)

                      Dairying in Eastern Massachusetts (Part II) 

by

Brian Wayne Wells

 As published in the January/February 2004 issue of

Belt Pulley Magazine

The Farmall F-14 bearing the Serial No. 132603.

 

Dairy farming in Massachusetts and indeed dairying in much of New England involved not only the milking of the cows, but the pasteurization, bottling and the delivery of the milk to the customers by the dairy farmer himself (see the previous article in this series which was published in the November/December 2003 issue of Belt Pulley).  One particular dairy farm located in Concord Town, Massachusetts, (1930 pop. 7,477), was being operated by our Concord Town farmer (as noted in the earlier article,in Massachusetts, the designation “Town” has the same connotation as “Township” in other states.  Our Concord Town farmer lived on this farm with his wife and four children.  By the summer of 1938 his eldest son, who had taken a strong interest in the 80-acre operation, was becoming a real partner in the farming operation.

An aerial view of a farm very much like our Concord Town farmer’s farm.

 

Since the early l930s, our Concord Town farmer had been delivering milk to his customers along his route, which extended over the line from Concord Town into the suburban town of Lexington, Massachusetts (1930 pop. 9,467), just west of Boston.  Like all farmers our concord Town farmer was interested in anything that would save him time in his farming operation.  He had been pleasantly surprised at how his purchase of a new Divco Model S delivery truck in 1936 had saved him time and money on the delivery route in the morning as opposed to delivering the milk with horses.

The Divco truck which our Concord Town farmer drove made his milk delivery route consume much less time than the horse-drawn milk delivery wagon.

 

Now he turned his attention to the small period of time each day between noon-time dinner and the late afternoon when he began the evening milking chores.  It was during this short period of time each day that he was requirede to complete all his field work.  If some economical way could could be found to mechanize this portion of his work then he rally felt that he would be able to put his farming operation on a better financial basis.  He had been considering the purchase of a farm tractor for some time.  Over the last year he had been leaning toward the purchase of a Farmall F-12 tractor, from the Frank Goddard hardware store at 933 Andover Street in Lowell, Massachusetts.  The Frank Goddard Hardware was the local International Harvester Company franchise holder for this area of Massachusetts.

With the growing season already well on the way in the summer of 1938, our concord Town farmer finally found a little time to drive over to Lowell to talk with Frank.  In order for the tractor to pay for itself, our Concord town farmer intended to use the tractor for nearly all his fieldwork.  Thus the tractor wpould require easy access to all areas of the farm.  This would include the field across the road from the homestead and other parcesl of land that were accessed by driving down the roads of his neighborhood.

Sign of the times in the late 1930s which indicated that steel wheeled tractors with spades {steel lugs)would no longer be allowed to travel public roads

 

The steady progress of paving the roads in the communities west of Boston would eventually result in the road past his farm being paved.  As convenient as a paved road would be, it would also mean that the road would be closed to tractors with steel lugs on the rear.  Local government were passing laws and ordinances to protect the the surface of asphault or cement highwaysfrom being torn up and ruined by tractors with steel wheels.  Thus the fields across the road or down the road from our Concord Town farmer’s house could become inaccessible with a steel wheeled tractor.  Accordingly, he concluded that any tractor that he purchased would have to have rubber tire on the front and rear from the start.  Rubber tires would increase the initial cost of any new farm tractor.  Our Concord Town farmer knew that the base price of a new Farmall  F-12 tractor would increase from $655 to $800 merely because of the addition of rubber tires to the front and rear of the tractor.  Nonetheless, he felt that the ability to easily access the fields down the road without trouble would pay off.

After talking with our Concord Town farmer for a short while, Frank Goddard called the International Harverster branch house, located at 61 North Beacon Street in the Alston area of Boston.  Because of its location in Boston, the transport hub for much of New England, the branch house at No. Beacon Street dealt predominately with International trucks.  Only secondarily did the branch house deal with farm equipment and tractors.  Luke E. W. Johnson served as the general manager of both trucks and machines at the branch house.

Johnson informed Frank Goddard that the branch house did indeed have a limited number of F-12 tractors.  However, none of them were fitted with a full set of rubber tires—front and rear.  Additionally, the branch house did not have extra tire rims for the rear of the F-12 tractor to swap out some rubber tires on the rea of one of the F-12s that they had in their inventory.  However, Luke Johnson did note that he had a new F-14 in his inventory which was already fitted with rubber tires in the front as well as the rear.  The rear tires on this tractor were mounted on International Harvester’s own 40-inch demountable rims.  This was an F-14 bearing the serial No. 132603.

 

The restored Massachusetts F-14, bearing the Serial Number 132603 at the 2016 LeSueur Pioneer Power Show.

 

No. 132603 had been manufactured at McCormick-Deering’s “Tractor Works” factory on 24th Street  and South Western Avenue in Chicago, Illinois.  The Tractor Works was located on the northern part of the 17.4 acre factory site which included the famous old McCormick “Reaper Works” which dated from at least 1847, well before the merger of the Deering and McCormick companies in 1903.  The Reaper Works had been entirely re-built after the Great Chicago fire of October, 1871.  The Tractor Works was added to the 17.4 acre factory site in 1910.

F-12 Tractors being loaded on a flatcar at the Tractor Works factory in Chicago. Most of the tractors are on steel wheels, however in the background one tractor can be seen with rubber tires on the rear mounted on French & Hecht round spoke wheel rims. Indicating that this picture was taken between 1935 when IHC first began offering rubber tired tractors to the public and early 1937 when they began making their own cast-iron wheels and steel rims to be fitted with rubber tires.

 

Thus, only after visiting the Goddard Hardware, did our Concord Town farmer first learned that the International Harvester Company had ceased production of the F-12 tractor in favor of a newer model–the Model F-14 tractor.  The difference between the F-12 and the F-14 were minimal.  The biggest difference being, as the name suggested, was that the horsepower of the new tractor was 13.24 at the drawbar while the F-12 tractor had developed only 11.81 horsepower at the drawbar.  This slight boost in horsepower was obtained by merely increasing the rated engine speed from 1,400 revolutions per minute (r.p.m.)  for the F-12 to 1,650 for the F-14.

The steering shaft of the F-12 tractor ran parallel to the top of the hood and gas tank.

 

The F-14 also took on a cosmetic change in appearance.  The steering shaft, which led from the steering wheel to the bolster on the front end of the tractor, was raised about six inches at the rear end of the steering shaft near the steering wheel.  This meant that rather than running parallel to the top of the top of the hood and fuel tank, as in the F-12, the steering shaft on the F-14 was sloped upward toward the steering wheel end of the steering shaft.  This was accomplished by means of a flexible joint on the steering shaft located at the point where the steering shaft connected with the bolster on the front of the tractor.  This aided the operator by placing the steering wheel   at a more comfortable height.

No. 132603 in the 2011 LeSueur Pioneer Power parade a picture  which shows the raised position of the steering wheel on the F-14 tractor as opposed to the earlier F-12 tractor.

 

No. 132603 had rolled off the assembly line on May 13, 1938.  Although there was not much difference between the Model F-12 and the Model F-14 tractors, No. 132603 came from the factory with a package of optional features that made it different from the  customary F-12 tractor package.  Not only was 132603  fitted with was not only fitted with rubber tires on the front and on the rear, but these rubber tires were fitted on International Harvester’s own cast iron drop-center wheels front and rear.  IH had begun making their own drop-center rims only in 1937.   Prior to that time, International Harvester had signed a “requirements contract” with the French & Hecht Company of Davenport, Iowa to supply all the wheels and rims that the International Harvester Company would require for their tractors.

Close up of a French & Hecht rear wheel on an F-12 tractor.

 

No. 132603 was a “gasoline” tractor rather than an “all-fuel”  type of tractor.  Standard equipment on the Farmalls of all sizes was the all-fuel system, which allowed the tractor to start on gasoline and then be switched over to cheaper kerosene for regular operation.  Thus, the standard equipment fuel tank on most F-Series tractors contained two openings on the top, each covered with a bayonet style fuel tank cap.  One cap opened into the main fuel tank which held 13 gallons of fuel oil of kerosene, while the second cap led to a smaller one-gallon fuel tank which held the gasoline tht was used only for starting the tractor.  However, No.  132603 had only one top of the cap on the top of the fuel tank, which held gasoline which was used exclusively for operating the tractor.

Closeup of the French round spoke rims on the front of a 1936 Farmall F-12.

 

Our Concord Town farmer had no objection to a gasoline tractor.  Indeed,  he already was required to store gasoline on his farm in a 55-gallon barrel for the Divco truck.  Thus, he felt it would be more expensive trying to “save money” by keeping both fuel oil and gasoline on the farm.  Any “savings” created by use of the fuel oil in the tractor would be offset by the inconvenience of purchasing and storing two separate fuels on his farm.  Thus, he actually felt favorably disposed to the fact that No. 132603 was a “gasoline tractor.”

Through the spokes of the steering wheel on this picture, one can see the opening to the one gallon gasoline tank. Peaking out above the steering wheel, the opening to the 13 gallon kerosene tank can barely be made out in this picture of an “All-Fuel” Model F-12.

 

Additionally, No. 132603 also contained another optional item– the hydraulic power lift mechanism under the seat (operation of this hydraulic power lift mechanism can be seen in use lifting and lowering a No. 215H cultivator in the 1936 movie “Popular Features of the F-12,” contained on Tape #1 of the Farmall Promotional Movies.)  Our Concord Town farmer really had no interest in this optional feature.  However, Frank Goddard wanted to make the sale on this particular tractor so he offered No. 132603 to our Concord Town farmer at a price that excluded the $58 price of the hydraulic lift.  Later, however, as he worked with the hydraulic unit in the field, our Concord Town farmer would come to come to appreciate the hydraulic unit a great deal.

A Farmall Model F-12 with IHC manufactured drop center wheels front and rear culltivating corn.

 

Although No. 132603 had been fitted with rubber tires front and rear it did not have another option that it might have been made available for F-14 tractors fitted with rubber tires.  This was the optional high-speed road gear in the transmission.  Standard equipment on the F-14 was a three-speed transmission with speeds of 2.25 mile per hour (m.p.h.), 3.00 m.p.h. and 3.75 m.p.h.   Any faster speeds on a steel-wheeled tractor were regarded as being unsafe.  However, for F-14 tractors fitted with rubber tires on the front and the rear, there was an optional road gear  would boost the top speed to 6.60 m.p.h. or 9.62 m.p.h.  The only trouble with either of these two optional speeds was that they were fitted into the original transmission replacing the standard gear third gear.  Thus the tractor would lose the valuable fieldwork speed of 3.75 m.p.h. merely to be fitted with a high speed road gear.  Because of this shortcoming, many farmers, who even though they may have purchased an F-12 or an F-14 with rubber tires on the front and rear, they refused to order the optional road gear.

The standard 3.75 m.p.h. gear was a good gear to use in the field for cultivating tall corn, for pulling the manure spreader to spread manure, for raking hay and for pulling a drag harrow and for other seedbed preparation operations.  Our concord Town farmer knew from the experience of other farmers in the neighborhood, that he should not trade a valid field speed on the tractor for a faster road speed.  Therefore, he did not mind the fact that No. 132603 did not have either of the optional road speed gears.

A standard feature of all Model F-14s, was the long handles for the rear wheel brakes.  One of the shortcomings of the F-12 had been the very short handles on the wheel brakes.  The short handles were awkward for the operator to use.  The were really good only for locking the right rear wheel when using the tractor for belt work on a belt powered machine.  Naturally, with the very slow speed of the tractor, unforeseen emergencies requiring sudden stopping of the tractor did not often arise while driving the tractor.  Additionally, except for the highly advertised automatic braking system which was standard equipment on the F-12/F-14 and which aided the tractor through sharp turns to the right or to the left, there existed little other need for use of the brakes on the F-12/F-14 tractor.  Still owners of the F-14 found the extended long handle brake levers handier to use than the standard equipment short handle brake levers.  Indeed the long handle brake levers proved to be so popular with F-14 tractor buyers that International Harvester began offering the long handles as an after-market kit that might added to earlier F-12 Model tractors which were originally fitted only with the short brake levers.

The long handle on the right brake of this F-12 tractor is clearly visible in this picture. The left brake long handle is obscured somewhat in the picture. The tractor in this picture is an F-12 tractor and therefore the long handles were an after-market add-on.  This F-12 tractor also has the older cast iron steering wheel.

 

Not only did No. 132603, have the standard equipment long brake levers for the hand braking system levers, but No. 132603 was also fitted with an optional feature  for the braking system of the F-14 tractors.  This was the optional foot brake.  The foot brake was a feature that was introduced with the F-14 in 1938.  It had never been offered even as an option during the production run of the F-12.

The optional foot brake consisted of a single foot pedal mouted on the right side of the operator’s platform.  The foot brake was connected to both brakes.  Thus when the operator applied the foot brake, both brakes were engaged at the same time.  Obviously, the optional foot brake was intended for those F-14 tractors which were fitted with either the 6.60 m.p.h. or the 9.62 m.p.h. high speed road gear.  The foot brake would then serve as a safety precaution while the tractor was being operated  on the road.    Although No. 132603 was not fitted with either high-speed road gear, No. 132603 was, nonetheless, fitted with the optional foot brake.  How did this happen?  Like the long handles, the optional foot brake was such a popular option that International Harvester made the foot brake into an add-on aftermarket kit that could be added to earlier F-12/F-14 tractors.  Our Concord Town farmer felt that the optional foot brake would add a certain amount of convenience to using the No. 132603.  However, he took more notice of the long handle brake levers.  He was glad to see that No. 132603 was fitted with the long handle brake levers rather than the short handles of the F-12.  He knew from other farmers that the short handle brake levers were difficult to use.

Frank Goddard offered No. 132603 to our  Concord Town farmer  at a price that could not be resisted.  Thus, our Concord town fafrmer became the owner of No. 132603 in the summer of 1938.  Under the purchase contract, he obtained a McCormick-Deering Model 215H two-row mounted cultivator and a McCormick-Deering Little Genius No. 8 two-bottom plow with 12 nch bottoms.

The sales package that was offered to our Concord Town farmer included a McCormick-Deering 2-bottom plow with 12 inch bottoms as well as a Model 215H cultivator. This particular McCormick-Deering plow is one owned by the Wells family’s (the current author’s family’s) and is a 2-bottom plow with 12 inches bottoms is fitted with a boot tire on the furrow wheel side of the plow. This boot tire is to prevent mud from the furrow from building up on the steel furrow wheel.  Currently, this plow is often matched with No. 132603 in the field demonstrations on the grounds of the LeSueur {Pioneer Power Show during the annual Show in late August each year.

 

By the time the farm equipment had been delivered to his farm in June of 1938, our Concord Town farmer was already into the time consuming work of cultivating his corn fields.  Because of the wet spring of 1938, our Concord Town farmer was late in getting his crops into the ground.  Consequently, because of the late planting, the corn was smaller in June of 1938 that in June of a usual  year.

This corn is very small but is about the height that cultivation could be done without the need of shields on the cultivator. The soil looks dry enough that the cultivator shovel stir the granular soil around to “hillup” around the individual corn plants and cover any little thread-like weeds that might be sprouting up through the ground near the corn plant.

 

Therefore, as soon as the tractor was backed off the delivery truck,  the Quick-Tach drawbar was removed and the rear wheels were jacked up off the ground one at a time and the clamps on the hubs of each wheel were loosened and each rear wheel was slid along  adjustable rear axle to a location on the rear axle which would allow the tractor to straddle two 40 inch rows of corn.  The clamps were then tightened to hold the wheel in position on the rear axle.

A steerable cultivator mounted on an F-14 tractor.

 

Because the Model 215H cultivator was one of the International Harvester Company’s patented “steerable cultivators,” the cultivator was attached to the steering column on the the tractor.  This would allow the cultivator gangs to would swing from side to side as the steering wheel was turned.  International Harvester advertised that the gangs of the steerable cultivator would actually swing farther and faster than the front wheels of the tractor as the steering wheel was turned.  (See the movie “Quickest On, Quickest Off” on Tape #1 of the International  Harvester Promotional Movies.)  The steerable feature was important to our Concord Town farmer because he knew that some of his fields were irregular in shape and some of the corn had to planted in curves around the borders of the irregular fields.  The steerable cultivator would allow the tractor to follow the curved rows of corn without digging up the corn plants.

As this tractor approaches the end rows where the steerable cultivator will be lifted so that the tractor may be turned around to cultivate the next rows, there is a possibility that the tops of the shovels under the tractor may strike the oil pan.

 

There was one problem with the steerable cultivator.  There was a chance, that when the tractor and mounted cultivator reached the end of the row and the cultivator was lifted to allow the tractor to turn around and head back across the field, that a some of the shovels would be positioned under the oil pan of the engine of the tractor.  Thus, when raised the there was a chance that shanks (tops) of these  cultivator shovels would strike the oil pan.  Repeated striking of the oil pan could eventually cause damage to the oil pan which might lead to a leak of engine oil and damage to the serious damage to the engine.  To protect against this possibility of damage, the International Harvester Company provided a protective metal strap which should be bolted to the frame of the tractor behind the front wheels of the tractor.  When the gangs of the mounted cultivator were raised this protective metal strap would push the gang of shovels slightly away in one direction or the other so that the shanks would not be allowed to strike he oil pan.

Thus, before mounting the cultivator on the tractor on that first day that it was delivered to his farm, our Concord Town farmer first bolted the protective metal strap to the frame of No. 132603.  He then attached the rear cultivator unit to the tractor and next he attached the front mounted units of the Model 215H cultivator to the front of the tractor.  Next the lift arms of the cultivator were attached to the hydraulic power lift unit located under the operator’s seat of the tractor and, in short order, No. 132603 was heading off to the corn field.

In the years before he purchased a tractor, our Concord Town farmer cultivated his corn with a one-row horse-drawn cultivator like the one seen here at work in the corn field.

 

The old one-row horse-drawn cultivator was parked in the grove of trees beside the machine shed.  Our Concord Town farmer always maintained that he would not stop using the horses to help cultivate the corn.  He and his eldest son would both be able to work on the cultivation of the corn, one with the tractor and the other with the horses and the one-row cultivator.  However, as time went by, the old horse-drawn cultivator remained parked in the grove and eventually the horses were sold and never replaced.  The tractor cultivator could do the work so much faster( two rows at a time) and the tractor could work so much more steadily without the need of stopping at the end of the rows every round to rest the horses.  No wonder then that it just did not seem worth-while to harness up the horses.  Thus, from the very first day, No. 132603 was used almost, exclusively for the cultivation of the corn on the farm.

The horse-drawn one-row cultivator became part of the past with the introduction of tractors on farms across the United States and North America.

 

Right from the start, our Concord Town farmer appreciated the smooth ride on No. 132603 provided by the 40-inch rubber tires on the rear of the tractor.  Once in the field, he put the tractor in second gear and lowered the cultivator over the first two rows of corn by merely moving the lever control on the hydraulic power unit located near his left thigh.  The corn was still young and was not as high as in usual years.  However the little corn plants were high enough that the shields did  not need to be installed on the cultivator.  These shields were intended to protect the very small corn plants from being covered over by the dirt that was stirred up by the shovels on the cultivator.  Indeed, under the present conditions, our Concofd Town farmer enjoyed the way that the soil was stirred up by the cultivator and filled in around the base of the little corn plants.  This action covered over all the little thread-like weeds that were growing close around the base of the corn plants.

Corn that has been hilled up and that, as can be seen here, allows rain water to flow to the middle of the pathway between the rows of corn.

 

This action hilling up dirt around the corn plants which would protect the roots of the corn plants from sitting in standing water when it rained.  Water settling directly on the roots of the plant would cause the leaves of the corn plants to become yellow in color and to become stunted in growth and development.  Instead, with properly hilled corn,  the rain water would tend to flow toward the center of the 40″ space between the rows, well away from the roots of the corn plants.

After traveling part of the way across the field in second gear, our Concord Town farmer shifted the little tractor up into third gear.  The corn was tall enough that even the higher speed of the tractor allowed the cultivator gangs to stir the soil without covering over the corn plants.  Once the tractor and cultivator reached the other end of the cornfield, our Concord Town farmer reached out with his left had and slid the governor /throttle control lever forward to slow the tractor a little more.  Then he reached back with his left hand to the hydraulic control lever near his left thigh and raised the cultivator gangs out of the ground, just as the tractor passed into the end rows.

The hydraulic lift unit of the F-14 is located under the seat of the operator on the tractor.  Note that both long handle brake levers are visible in this picture. Also note that this tractor has, correctly, been fitted with the rubber-covered three-spoke steering wheel rather than the cast iron steering wheel.

 

Slowly, he began to turn the rubber-coated three-spoke steering wheel to the right in order to swing the tractor around into the next two rows of corn to head back across the field.  The shiny new shovels glistened in sunshine with their new land polish as he turned the tractor around to line up with the next two rows of corn.  He did not even have time to grab the right-hand brake handle before he felt the automatic braking system applyin the right hand brake because of the sharp turn to the right.  He steered the nose of the tractor down between the next two rows of the con field.  He then touched the hydraulic control lever of the to drop the cultivator gangs to the ground and off he went back across the field.

After a few turns at the end of the field, he found that this turn round at the end of the field could be accomplished very quickly without disengaging the clutch.  This was especially true when he began to cultivate the field in a pattern that did not require him to immediately cultivate the two adjacent rows that he had just finished.  Under this pattern, instead of turning very sharply into the adjacent rows of corn, our Concord Town farmer would temporarily skip two  rows of uncultivated corn and steer the little tractor into the pathway of the third and fourth rows of uncultivated corn.  Once on the other end of the field, he would again turn toward the uncultivated side of the field and skip two more rows of corn and steer the tractor in the pathway between the third and fourth rows on that side, leaving another two rows of corn temporarily in-cultivated.  After cultivating these two rows, he would turn back toward  cultivated side and cultivate the first  pair of rows that he had skipped and left uncultivated.  Following this pattern of cultivating his corn fields, our Concord Town farmer could avoid the extremely sharp turns at the end of the rows.

Our Concord Town farmer commented to his oldest son that watching the progress of cultivation in both corn rows as both rows passed through the front mounted units of the cultivator and under the rear axles of the tractor on either side of the operator’s seat surely kept him busy–busier that cultivating one row at a time with the horses.  His son noted that while the trips down the rows across the field was completed at a speed no faster than with horses,  the whole field was completed in a much shorter period of time by doing two rows at a time.  This was real increase in productivity of the tractor cultivator over the horses–two rows were cultivated each time the tractor crossed the field, plus was there a faster turn around time at the end of the field.  Not only was he saving time with the tractor, our Concord Town farmer was saving money too.  Our Concord Town farmer did not need to await the compilation of his annual records at tax time to see that the tractor was savinv him money over the long haul.  He could tell from the fact that the little tractor could work in the fields for two or three afternoons without refilling the fuel tank.  It took almost that amount of time to cultivate one of his cornfields.

The summer of 1938 progressed rather smoothly.  August and early September were warmer than usual.  It was excellent weather for drying the out of the ripening corn that remained in the fields.  Some of the corn on the farm had been cut and bundled up while still green in mid August.  This corn had been chopped and blown into the silo as ensilage.  The corn that remained was to be harvested as ripe corn.  Despite the late planting of the corn in the spring, our Concord Town farmer now saw that the corn was ripening rather early.  He knew that he would soon have to cut, bind and shock, the ripening corn.  The idea was to cut and bind the corn into bundles with the corn binder before the corn was completely dry and then stand the bundles upright against each other in a “shocks.”  The corn would finish the drying process in shocks standing throughout the field.  Our Concord Town farmer had often maintained that corn standing in shocks could dry and weather the winter as well in corn the corncrib–and shocks were definitely cheaper than building a corncrib.  Our Concord Town farmer always tried to begin the binding of the ripe corn in the second week of September.

In the years before our Concord Town farmer purchased his F-14 farm tractor, horses were used to pull the bull-wheel-powered McCormick-Deering corn binder. Meanwhile the bundles on the ground await being picked up and leaned against each other in “shocks.”

 

Since the purchase of No. 132603, our Concord town farmer and his son had been experimenting to see just how well No. 132603 would work together with all the machines on the farm.  Thus prior to filling silo, they had shortened the hitch on their old one-row horse-drawn and bull wheel powered McCormick corn binder.  They found that the binder could be hitched to a ole on the drawbar of No. 132603 a little to the left of the center hole.  This allowed the tractor to steer down the center of the pathway between the rows of corn stubble.  In this way, the rear wheels of the tractor would also roll easily down the center of the  pathways on either side of the same two rows of corn stubble.  Therefore, the wheels did not have to be running directly over the hills of corn stubble.

Amish farm with field of harvested corn in “shocks” for storage against the winter weather,

 

Use of the tractor with the corn binder was convenient, but it turned a one-person job in to a two-person job.  Previously, the operator drove the horses across the field from his seat on the corn binder and was still able to operate all the controls of the corn binder from the same seat.  With the tractor, one person was required to drive the tractor and another person was required to operate the binder.  During the green corn harvest in August this need for a two-person crew created no problem.  Our Concord Town farmerand his oldest son could work together.  However, now in September, school had started and all four of his sons were gone from the farm during the day.  He needed  to accomplish the cutting and binding of the ripening corn on the weekendswhen his sons were home.  In this way our Concord Town farmer could accomplish the time-consuming task of stacking the bundles of corn into a into shocks in the field all by himself while his kids were in school.

The entire course of the formation of the Great New England Hurricane of 1938, showing the rising speeds of the winds as the storm crossed the Atlantic Ocean.

 

Accordingly, our Concord Town farmer and his eldest son started to the cornfield with No. 132603 and their little McCormick corn binder corn on Saturday September 17.  The radio was reporting that a storm that had begun off the western coast of Africa, south of the Cape Verde Islands.  The storm now gathering wind speeds as it crossed the Atlantic Ocean, but no one knew if it storm would even strike the mainland of the United States, let alone knowing where the storm might strike.

The growing storm moves from a tropical storm status to a Category 1 hurricane status during the evening of September 14, 1938. The hurricane looked as though it would make landfall somewhere in the Caribbean. However, then the hurricane began making an arc toward the north during the night of Monday, September 19, 1938.

 

So our Concord Town farmer and his son kept binding corn all weekend on Saturday and Sunday (September 17and 18) without taking a break to shock the corn bundles as they might have done had they using the horses to pull the binder.  They managed to have all the corn bundled by Sunday evening.  Once the corn was bundled our Concord Town farmer and his son also tried to shock as many of the bundles as they could on that Sunday evening.

Track followed by the storm that became the Great New England Hurricane (The naming of hurricanes with human names was not begun until 1953.) As late as the afternoon of September 21, 1938, it was hoped that the storm would stay on the arc that it had started and move out into the Atlantic Ocean with the possibility of only “brushing the coast of New England. However, as can be seen here, the pathway of the storm unexpectedly straightened out and made landfall on the coast of Connecticut. 

 

However, most of the bundles of corn were still laying on Monday  afternoon (September 19), when our farmer was able to return to the cornfield.  He felt guilty about leaving the corn on the ground.  Bundles on the ground could result in spoilage of the ears of corn in the bundles if it were to rain.  However, on the morning of Tuesday (September 20), he suspected that much worse damage might be coming is way as the radio reported that the hurricane had made an arc around to the north and might clearly be coming his way.    Consequently, he devoted all the time that he could afford to the cornfield and the task of shocking the remaining corn bundles.  By Tuesday evening, September 20, the shocking of the bundles of corn in the cornfield was finally completed.  This was a fortunate circumstance because the month of September of 1938 held a surprise in store for our Concord Town farmer and, indeed. for the entire state of Massachusetts.

On September 21, 1938, while the hurricane struck New England, our Concord Town farmer kept his prize Guernsey cows in the barn all day.  Milking was carried on as usual but no deliveries of milk were made to his customers on that day.   

 

Early the next morning, (Wednesday, September 21)  it was reported that the hurricane might on an arc which might take the storm right back out to the Atlantic Ocean.  Hope began to build that the storm might miss the continental United States entirely.  However, this hope was extinguished as the storm changed its path again and headed right for that the coast of Connecticut.  Having gathered strength over the water on its path from the Caribbean the hurricane was now a full Category 5 hurricane as it  made landfall along the Connecticut coast on September 21, 1938.  This “storm of the century” wreaked havoc all over the area.

Extensive damage to the harbors in Rhode Island and New York occurred as the eye of the hurricane passed through Connecticut.

 

Although the eye of the hurricane followed a path across Connecticut, western Massachusetts and into New York State, the storm created very strong winds and rainstorms all over eastern Massachusetts.  Indeed gusts of wind as strong as 185 mph were recorded at the weather observatory in Blue Hill located just south of Boston.

More than 57,000 homes were destroyed by the Great New England Hurricane of 1938.

 

The wind and rain struck furiously at the house where our Concord Town farmer’s family huddled next to the Atwater-Kent radio.  They tried to listen to the radio only periodically throughout the day, so as not to run down the batteries in the radio.  Over the radio,  they caught news of the hurricane’s destructive path.  All outside activities on the farm were suspended except for the feeding of the animals on the farm and the morning and evening milking of the dairy herd. they did not attempt to pasteurize the or bottle the milk.  Nor did they any even think about making delivery of the milk to the customers on the milk route.  It was too dangerous to be out in the storm.

It was very dangerous to be out in the storm.

 

It was Thursday September 22 before the family could take inventory and assess any possible damage to the to the farm.  When they did get outside to inspect the farm they found that outside of  few uprooted trees in the wood lot and many scattered limbs that had been blown down and were now scattered across the yard, the arm was basically undamaged.  Missing even one day of  hauling the manure to the field surely allowed the  manure.  Our Concord Town farmer loaded the manure spreader as full as he possibly could and hauled load out to the corn field to spread the manure.  However, it was clear that it would take more than one trip to the field with the manure spreader to get the barn totally clean.  On the way to the field with the team of horses our Concord Town farmer saw that the damage to the woodlot was not much more than they had seen fro the house.  Furthermore, when he began spreading the manure in the corn field among the newly made shocks, he could see that not one shock had been blown over or damaged.  This was dramatic evidence that, as our Concord Town farmer had alleged on numerous occasions, ear corn could be stored in the field in corn shocks as safely as in a corncrib for the whole winter.

Damage on the farm of our Concord Town farmer was limited to fallen tree branches and a couple of uprooted trees.

 

Later our Concord Town farmer would maintain that the purchase of No. 132603 had been responsible for saving the ripe corn crop in 1938.  He maintained that if the family had tried to get through the ripe corn harvest with the horses on the corn binder and would have attempted to shock the corn in a piece meal fashion, aas they had done in the past, much of the corn would have been left standing uncut in the field when the hurricane struck on September 21.  The storm would have ruined the standing corn and there would have been little he could have done about it.

The limited damage to his “shocked” corn in the fields convinced our Concord Town farmer that bundled corn stood upright in shocks could weather just about anything that mother nature could throw at the farm.

 

That year 1938, was a memorable year for many reasons including the purchase of No. 132603.  However, even more dramatic events occurred in the years that followed.  In less than a year after the New England hurricane of September 21, 1938, World War II broke out in Europe.  In a little over three years following the hurricane, the United States would be involved in that war.

Our Concord Town farmer had reason to feel that he had been wise in obtaining a farm tractor when he did.  The war changed the economy.  The armed forces overseas and the the people of the allied nations needed to be fed.   The obligation of supplying this food fell on the farmers o f North America.  Farmers were asked to produce more than ever before.  With the new Divco truck and now the new F-14 farm tractor, our concord Town farmer was well 0ositiohed to take full advantage of the increased demand for all farm produce.  Government restrictions on the economy during the war made obtaining new farm machinery difficult if not impossible.  Thus any machinery that a typical farmer family had at the beginning of the war was the machinery that they would have keep for the duration of the war.  Our Concord Town farmer could count himself fortunate that he had obtained both the truck and the tractor when he did.

Promotional poster to encourage the drinking of milk.

 

During the war, No. 132603 performed admirably.  With its factory installed rubber tires, No. 132603 emerged into the post-war world with some advantages over other pre-war tractors.  While the owners of other pre-war and generally steel-wheeled tractors, were hurrying to have rear steel wheels of their pre-war tractors cut-down by local blacksmiths and have rims for rubber tires welded onto  the cut-down centers, our Concord Town farmer did not have to worry about this problem.  Also, he had purchased his rubber tires as a package deal including the whole tractor and had made the deal in the pre-war era when the price of those tires were much lower that now in the post-war  period of time.

Although later in the post-war era, farmers would be purchasing faster more powerful farm tractors and even our Concord Town farmer would be forced to follow the same trend toward more powerful tractors, he would find that No. 132603 would continue to serve the farm business in an important capacity as a second tractor on the farm–doing yard work, hauling wagons to and from the fields, powering the elevator, mowing and raking the hay, hauling the daily load of manure to the field and, of course, cultivating corn.

Only years later was No. 132603 sold to another owner–a farmer near Bedford, Massachusetts .  That farmer installed a McCormick-Deering Model 16H mounted mower on the drawbar of No. 132603 and the tractor became a tractor dedicated to one job on the farm–mowing hay.  In this capacity, No.132603 remained in productive farming much longer than other F-14 tractors.  Eventually, however, No.132603 replaced even in this occupation by faster mowing machines.  By the spring of 1994, No. 132603 was so to the Village Power Equipment Company of Berlin, Massachusetts.  That same spring, the tractor was spotted by Mark Wells, brother of the current author(and author of a “Tale of Two Cubs”) carried in this issue (the January/February, 2004 issue of Belt Pulley magazine) on the used machinery lot of Village Power Equipment.  The tractor was complete right down to the oil pan protector strap for the steerable cultivator which had been bolted to the frame by our Concord Town farmer, as mentioned above in this article.  Mark Wells became the knew owner of No. 132603.

Restoration of No. 132603 began in 1995 and by Christmas of 1995 all the parts needed for an overhaul of the engine had been obtained.  As part of the overhaul, the Model 16H mounted mower was taken off the little F-14 tractor and was mounted on the Super C with an adjustable wide front end which bore serial number 116462 that was also owned by Mark Wells home and was located in  Billerica, Massachusetts house.  Over the holidays in 1995, the Mark Wells home became the site of the Wells family Christmas reunion.  The garage became a place of vigorous activity as the author, Mark Wells and their father the late Wayne A. Wells worked to complete the overhaul of the engine of No. 132603.  During the five-day Christmas vacation the overhaul was completed and No. 132603 was started with its new dengine to the delight of all present.

This picture and the picture at the start of this article were taken on August 15, 2007 at the Kyle Lieske shop just after the tractor had been painted and decaled.

 

In August of  2002, No. 132603 was brought to Minnesota for the first time.  The tractor was taken to the home of Bill Radial located in West Concord, Minnesota.  Later, during the summer of 2007,  the tractor was taken to the Kyle Leiske shop in rural Henderson, Minnesota for painting.  Following, painting and proper decaling of No. 132603, the tractor was taken to the LeSueur Pioneer Power Association grounds where it became part of the permanent exhibits of the association.

Readers will remember from the first article in this series on No. 132603 that the Whitaker family had a dairy operation on their farm in Massachusets, that was a great deal like the farming operation of our Concord Town farmer.  The Whitaker farm continued in the dairy business until about 1960 when the family sold off the dairy cows and started raising beef cows.  As Raymond Whitaker retreated from the active responsibility for the family, his son, Jim began to take up the responsibility.  Jim married Paula Ann Cochran and together they had a family that included two sons and a daughter.  Jim continues to live on the farm with his family and operates the beef cattle operation to the present day. As a founding member of the International Harvester Collector’s Association, Jim Whitaker has become friends with Mark Wells, who has served as secretary for the chapter since its founding.

Readers attending the annual shows of the LeSueur Pioneer Power Association will be able to see the restored No. 132603 and will know the possible history of the tractor–a tractor that was involved in dairy farming, New England style.  No. 132603 lives on in its restored glory.  The tractor will serve as a salutation  to all the people involved in dairy production in New England.  This article is dedicated to the late Wayne A. Wells who passed away on April 10, 2001 during the initial writing of this article.  Along with his wife Marilyn (Hanks) Wells, he taught his children the value of old things–be it tractors, farm machinery, buildings or sets of dishes–and the pleasure that can be derived from the restoration of historic items.

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