The 1955 Model 300 Tractor Bearing the Serial No. 22368 and the Accompanying Model 33A Tractor-Mounted Loader.

The 1955 Farmall Model 300 Tractor Bearing the Serial No. 22368and the Accompanying Model 33A Tractor-Mounted Loader.    

by

Brian Wayne Wells

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.

 

 This article remains under construction.  Periodically, new blocks of text will appear in the article and/or  current blocks of text will be corrected. 

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.

An advertisement of the introduction of the “letter-series” tractors in 1939. In the summer of 1939 the Farmall Models M, H, and A of the letter-series were introduced.  Six months later on December 26, 1939 a fourth model–the Model B was introduced.

 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.

The Farmall H assembly line at the Farmall Works factory in Rock Island, Illinois was always busy turning out the most popular of all Farmall letter series tractors–the Model H.

As noted in other articles at this website, when the two-plow Farmall H began production on July21, 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.

From the very first of the production run of the letter series in the summer of 1939, the Farmall Model H was the most popular selling tractor of the series.

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 model year1940 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.)

Public appreciation of the benefits of the more powerful Farmall Model M was delayed.  The Farmall M would become the best selling tractor in the Farmall line only in 1949, a full ten years after 1939 when the M was first introduced.

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.)

An aerial view of the Farmall Works factory in Rock Island, Illinois

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.

Introduction of the Farmall Super H occurred at the Minnesota State Fair in late August of 1952 which was the actual beginning of the 1953 “model year.”

Up to this point, 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.

Accordingly, we can comfortably predict 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.

 Production of the Farmall Super H tractor was short-lived.  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. ag the drawbar and 26.40 at the belt pulley.)  However, one small difference that probably went unnoticed at the State Fair.  This 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.  However, it pointed to a trend.  When the Model 300 replaced the Super H in August of 1954, there would another increase in the wheel base of the tractor to 92.25 inches for the Model 300.  .

The International Harvester Company replaced the Farmall Super H in their line of farm tractors with the Farmall Model 300 tractor at the start of the model year 1955.  Once again the “model year” of 1955 actually began in August of 1954.   Indeed, 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.  .

Following the re-tooling of the Model H assembly line at the Rock Island “Farmall Works” factory, production of the new Farmall 300 was begun on about August 1, 1954, the start of the new 1955 model year.

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.

An advertisement of the Torque Amplifier or T.A. that was available for the tractors of the new Hundred Series.

 

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 was 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 on the right side of the dash board of the Farmall 300 tractor.

This set of three levers is optional as compared with Hundred Series Farmalls fitted with only two levers or even just one lever.  These levers are the hydraulic valve control levers on the tractor.   Each lever controls the hydraulic oil that can be pumped to down a hose to a cylinder located on the tractor or located “remotely” on an implement being towed by the tractor.

As will be discussed below, when No. 22368 was purchased in the spring of 2018, 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.

Specifications for the McCormick-Deering Model 33A tractor loader indicate that the loader has the capacity to lift 1500 pounds. Here the Model 33A mounted on a Farmall Super M tractor is put to the test lifting the front end of an International Model W-4 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.  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 rear view of a Farmall Model 300 tractor reveals that the tractor is fitted with the optional Fast Hitch drawbar.  Here the removable drawbar is painted white. 

 

 

 

 

A Model 300 showing the optional three-lever controls of the independent “live” hydraulic system on the 300. The levers are seen here just behind the head light in this picture. Additionally, the long lever beside the operator’s platform extending down behind the axle house on this side of the tractor is the control lever for optional the independent “live” power take-off on this tractor.

Another peculiarity of No. 22368 when it was first purchased by Wells Family Tractors in the spring of 2018, was  lack of even ordinary wear on the tractor.  As noted above, none of the holes in the drawbar show any signed of wear.  The sheet metal shows no signs of damage that might have occurred during the 63 years of ownership that have passed since No. 22368 left the Rock Island Farmall Works assembly line in 1955.  In addition to the lack of ordinary wear on No. 22368, there is an extreme the lack of any ordinary damage or missing or replaced parts which a restorer might find on any other 63-year old  tractor.  The sheet metal over the engine and around the operators seat of No. 22368 is not only intact, but is without any sign of ordinary usage even of a short working career.  One case in point are the tiny retaining clips found on No. 22368.  In 1955, the International Harvester Company was using the X-shaped retaining clips on the ends of rods and pins on their farm tractors.

The X-style retaining clip originally used by the International Harvester Company on their new Farmall tractors.

Between 1955 and the present opinions have changed regarding these X-style of clip fasteners.  The farm machinery industry since 1955 has moved en-mass to the use of the e-style clip fastener rather than the X-style retainer clip.  It was found that the e-style retainer clip was superior to the X-style clip.  This may have been due to the “horns” on the X-style clip.  When the X-style clip was used around the operator’s platform, it would tend to get caught on the clothing or foot ware of the tractor operator and be pulled off the rod pin and become lost.  As can be seen below the e-style clip had no horns that could get caught on anything.  Even the International Harvester Company has changed its mind in regards to the X-shaped clip fasteners, even International Harvester has changed to the C-style or “e”-style clip fastener.    

This C-shaped or “e”-shaped  clip retaining fastener has replaced the old style “X-shaped” clips as the favorite retainer clip of many farm manufacturers in the period of time from 1955 to the present.

Another sign of the minimal amount of wear on No. 22368 is related to yet another factory installed option on No. 22368 –the optional International Harvester power steering.  When equipped power steering the “Hundred Series” Farmalls, i.e. the 400, 300 etc., were fitted with an aluminum ring around the center of the steering wheel advertising the optional power steering.

A new aluminum power steering insignia which mounts on the center of the steering wheel of tractors of the hundred-series.

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.

The aluminum power steering wheel insignia showing damage from ordinary tractor use.  This is the amount of damage that a restorer might expect to see on a 63-year old tractor.

When No. 22368 was purchased in the spring of 2017 by the Wells family was surprised to find that the aluminum power steering insignia on the steering wheel of this 63-year old tractor was basically undamaged.  This is just another indication of the slight amount of work that No. 22368 has had over the last 63 years of the tractor’s existence.

Also when purchased in the spring of 2017, No. 22368  was fitted with a mounted McCormick-Deering Model 33A tractor loader.  This loader probably was not mounted on the tractor at the time of its initial purchase in 1955 from the International Harvester Company dealership in Chaska.  Rather the loader was mounted on the No. 22368 at a later date.

The advertising booklet pictured above purports to feature the “Model 33” loader. However, the loader pictured is actually a Model 33A which was introduced to replace the much lighter Model 33 loader.  The Model 33 looked much different than the 33A.  Rather than being a piece of literature advertising the Model 33, it seems that this is a piece of literature is introducing the Model 33A loader to the farming public.  It just seems that McCormick-Deering was intent on introducing the new loader pictured here as a “new improved” Model 33 loader and only later decided to designate the new  model loader as the Model 33A  to avoid confusion because of the great number changes between the Model 33 and the Model 33A.  This piece of literature supports the thought that the Model 33A loader was introduced during the short production run of the 350 and 450 tractors from the late fall of 1956 until the late summer of 1958.   

Once the Model 33A loader was introduced Interational Harvester continued to make improvements to the loader in a never ending attempt to stregthen the loader.  In  particular, while the early style of Model 33A had a segmented arrangement of supports between the upper rail and the lower rail of each arm on the loader, later styles had a single piece reinforcement over the whole space between the upper and lower rails of the loader arms.  The style of Model 33A loader mounted on No. 22368 was one these later manufactured 33A loaders which featured the single piece reinforcement over the whole space between the upper and lower rails of the arms on each side of the loader.  This single piece reinforcement of the entire space between the upper and lower beams on the arms of the loader appears to be a feature that distinguishes the later 33A loaders from the earlier Model 33A loaders with the segemented style of reinforcement.  .  

 

This picture shows a late style McCormick-Deering  Model 33A loader with the characteristic single piece reinforcement between the upper and lower rails of the arms of the loader.   

 

The advertising picture below shows a brand new McCormick-Deering Model 201 manure spreader being loader with manure for the first time.  The manure spreader is hitched to a Model 350 Farmall tractor.  Loading the manure into the spreader is a Model 450 Farmall tractor with a early style Model 33A loader with the segmented form of reinforcement between the upper and lower rails on the arms of the loader.  This is further evidence of the  contention that the Model 33A loader was introduced during the production run of the Model 350 and Model 450 tractors, between the late autum of 1956 and the late summer of 1958.

 

This picture of a brand new manure spreader being loaded with manure for the first time is clearly a promotional picture taken by the International Harvester Company.  The picture is important because it shows the early style Model 33A tractor loader mounted on a new Farmall Model 450 tractor. This suggests that the Model 33A tractor loader was introduced during the production run of the Model 450 and Model 350 tractors from the late autumn of 1956 through the,late summer of 1958.

Installation of the Model 33A loader on No. 22368 well after the tractor’s initial purchase in 1955, suggests that the tractor was being prepared for a career as a loader tractor.  However, neither the tractor nor the loader bear any signs of excess wear or even normal use.

No. 22368 appears to be a tractor that has hardly been used by the time the tractor was later purchased in about 2000 by David Falk of Waconia, Minnesota. When No, 22368 was sold to Brian     of  LeSueur, Minnesota.  As noted above, Wells Family Tractors, purchased No. 22368 from Wayne Schwartz in the summer of 2018 complete with its McCormick-Deering Model 33A tractor power loader.  The intent was to use No. 22368 and its mounted farm loader, as a utility tractor around the Wells Family Tractor warehouse located in LeSueur, Minnesota, for, among other tasks, loading steel-wheeled plows and other heavy steel-wheeled farm machinery on a trailer to be transported to the LeSueur Pioneer Power in rural LeSueur community.  For this type of large scale fork lift type of work a hydraulically powered loader bucket was a requirement.  However, the particular Model 33A power loader mounted on No. 22368 was fitted with a “dump-style” bucket intended for cleaning manure from a barn and dumping it into a manure spreader.

Research by Mark Wells revealed that a hydraulic cylinder,  supports and hydraulic hoses were available as part of an optional power bucket for the Model 33A farm tractor loader.  Further, research by Mark Wells on Craig’s list found that another Model 33A tractor power loader with the optional power bucket was for sale at a location on the shore of Mille Lac Lake, near the small town of Isle, Minnesota.  This loader was owned by David Steve Martin of Champlin, Minnesota (2010 pop. 23,089).  Although living in Champlin, Minnesota David had a piece of land on the shores of Mille Lacs Lake near Isle, Minnesota (2010 pop. 751).  On this property David  kept several Farmall tractors including quite a few Famall H’s.  Nearly all of these Farmalls are in running order as David proved by starting nearlt akl of them quite easily during the short amount of time that the current author was in on his property. 

To pickup the loader and bring it back to LeSueur, the current author determined that it would be most easily done by taking the 1951 Farmall H’s owned by Wells Family Tractors to David’s property in Isle and partially mounting the loader on the rear axle housings of that tractor and then backing the tractor around toward the and then pulling the tractor and loader up on to the bed-over wheels trailer with the winch on the trailor towed behind the current author’s pickup truck.

 

 

Accordingly, one July day in 2018, the current author hitched up the trailer to his pickup truck and loaded up the 1951 Famall H bearing the serial number 375596 onto the trailer.  The current author got off early in the morning and found David and was guided to his property by periodic conversations over the cell phone. Arriving early in the town of Isle, the author found that the cloudy weather and periodic breezes while threating rain did keep the July day rather coolish considering the month. 

 

The late style Model 33A McCormick-Deering tractor tractor loader on the ground of the property of David Steve Martin located in Isle, Minnesota on the shore of Mille Lac Lake. The hydraulic cylinder attached to the bucket of the loader can easily be seen in this picture.

   

The author was able to get the loader attached to the rear axles housings of the Farmall H bearing the serial number 375596. after pulling the  After talking with David Steve Martin over the phone the current author drove to Mille Lacing not fitted with a hydraulically powered for this ther heavy tfor  In from    ,

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