The 1936 International Harvester “Quickest On-Quickest Off” Contest

The 1936 International Harvester “Quickest On-Quickest Off” Contest

by

Brian Wayne Wells

As published in the November/December 1994 issue of

Belt Pulley Magazine

Introduced in 1933, the Model F-12 farm tractor was heavily advertised by the International Harvester Company. One of the advertising strategies was the “Quickest On and Quickest Off” Contest

 

Ever since the invention of farm machinery, all farm equipment manufacturers have sought new and more effective ways to sell their product.  Jere Wissler of Mountville, Pennsylvania has a piece of International Harvester literature which dates from about 1940 and recounts that the company began making silent movies to promote their farm equipment in 1912.  In 1934 they changed to sound movies exclusively.  Many of these movies were intended to be shown at the annual Power Farming Shows and Entertainment to be held in February of each year at their dealerships as a way of advertising the new farm equipment the company had introduced that year.  International Harvester encouraged their local dealerships to hold these family-oriented events with a free meal and free entertainment as a means of attracting potential buyers in the middle of the Great Depression.

The dealerships usually offered free beans and hot dogs to the families in attendance and the entertainment usually consisted of farm equipment movies.  Of course, the salesmen of the dealership were always on hand to show off the new machinery in hopes of making a sale during the show.  Early February was recognized as the best time to hold these events because it was well in advance of March 1, traditionally the day on which all rental agreements for farms invariably ended and a new agreement would begin.  Additionally, purchase contracts for farms invariably were made effective on March 1.

            John Deere also began having similar annual February events in 1936.  They called their events John Deere Days.  The John Deere Company began making movies for their shows in 1936.  Copies of these movies on VHS videotape are available from Two Cylinder Club, Post Office Box 10, Grundy Center, Iowa  50638-0010, Telephone: 1-800-831-5176.

At first all movies made by International Harvester were of the hard-sell variety.  Hard-sell movies dealt exclusively with machinery; there was no attempt to make a story out of the movie.  Precisely because they provide direct information about the machinery, these movies stimulate great interest among collectors today.  In 1936, however, International Harvester produced a different type of movie for the February dealership shows.  This 11-minute movie was called My Model Farm.  The movie contained no scenes of machinery at all; it was strictly an entertainment movie.  However, My Model Farm created a sensation when it was shown for the first time in 1936.  It was (and still is) a very funny and popular film with audiences.  International Harvester had created a movie hit!  The movie was re-shown in succeeding years because of popular demand.  The movie was intended to be included in the middle of a series of hard-sell movies to provide comic relief.

Key to the idea of a “quick-tach” system on the F-12 tractor was the drawbar of the tractor. The drawbar was held on by only four bolts.  These bolts were mounted on the tractor with “swivels” that allow the drawbar to be removed by merely loosening the nuts and allowing the  to be loosened rather than removed.  The bolts can then be swiveled to a position to fall through a large holes on the drawbar.  (One of these large holes on the lower portion of the drawbar can be seen in this picture.)  Once the nuts on these bolts are loosened enough to fall through these holes, the drawbar can easily and quickly be removed.

 

One of the hard-sell movies shown together with My Model Farm in 1936 was Quickest On, Quickest Off.  This movie relates yet another promotional campaign which International Harvester launched to promote the Quick-Attachable line of farm equipment for the Farmall F-12.  This movie showed the International Harvester exhibition tents at the 1935 Illinois and Indiana State Fairs.  One of the main events in the International Harvester tent at both state fairs that year was the “Quickest On, Quickest Off” contest.  This was a contest of 13- and 14-year-old boys from various communities of each state competing to see who was the fastest at attaching and detaching the various “Quick-Attachable” implements available for the Farmall F-12.

The rear-mounted Model No. 12 sickle bar mower was available for the F-12 as a “Quick-Attachable” implement.

 

The contest was part of the International Harvester effort to demonstrate to farmers just how easy it was for anybody to attach and detach the Quick-Attachable equipment.  There is mention in the movie of a one-armed man attaching and detaching equipment each day of the Illinois State Fair.  The 13- and 14-year-old contestants were drawn from the local communities in the respective states.

Although there is no detailed explanation in the movie of how the contestants were selected at the local level, a person with whom many Belt Pulley readers are familiar was a participant in the 1935 Quickest On, Quickest Off contest at the local level.  Although circumstances prevented him from participating in the contest at the Illinois State Fair, he is familiar with the contest as it was carried out at the local level.

A pennant from the Illinois State
Fair.

Many readers will remember Bill Rees who was the son of Milford Rees, founder of Rees Plowing Match in 1923.  A story of the Rees plowing contests held from 1923 through 1941 was carried in the May/June 1991 issue of The Belt Pulley magazine. (“A Time Gone By: The Rees Plow Match”).  In that article, readers will note that young Bill Rees won a trophy at one of the plowing matches in 1933.  There is a picture of 10-year-old Bill Rees standing behind an Allis-Chalmers No. 2 plow (with very shiny mirror-like bottoms) holding his newly won plowing trophy.

Pictures from the 1934 plowing contest at Rees Station in Morgan County, Illinois. Young 11-year old Bill Rees won the plowing contest just one year before he became a contestant in the Quickest On and Quickest Off contest.

 

The Milford Rees family was located at Rees Station in Morgan County, Illinois, about three miles northwest of Franklin, Illinois.  Like most farm families, the Rees family looked forward to the Power Farm Shows held each spring.  Indeed, Bill remembers attending the show at Wilson Implement, the International Harvester dealership in Waverly, Illinois.  A few days after the show at Wilson Implement, the family would drive to Jacksonville, Illinois, the county seat of Morgan County, to attend the Power Farming Show at the Wise and Dowland dealership.

A copy of the first page of the original publication of this article in the Belt Pulley magazine, showing the 1935 advertisement of the Power Farming Days at the Wise and Dowland International Harvester dealership in Jacksonville Illinois.

 

In the early spring of 1935, following the Power Farming Show, the Wise and Dowland dealership contacted young Bill Rees about becoming one of the local boys involved in the Quickest On and Quickest Off contest.  He relates that the contest really had no connection with the county fairs; indeed, there was no contest at the local level at all.  Actually, the International Harvester Company encouraged local dealerships to sponsor boys from their sales areas to come to the various state fairs to compete in the Quickest On, Quickest Off contest.  The local dealerships were asked to help the boys with practice sessions using the new equipment at each dealership.

Some of the multiple storied buildings on the west side of the square in downtown Jacksonville, Illinois.

 

The Wise and Dowland dealership occupied a two-story building in the center of Jacksonville, Illinois, about 35 miles west of Springfield, Illinois.  When Bill began going to the practice sessions held on Saturdays in the early spring of 1935, he found that Wise and Dowland had made contact with two or three other boys from the area around Jacksonville and Morgan County to participate in the “Quickest On, Quickest Off” contest.  All through the spring of 1935, the boys would gather on the second floor of the Wise and Dowland dealership.  The second floor of the building was the warehouse area of the dealership, where shipping boxes of farm implements were being unpacked and the implements assembled by the staff at Wise and Dowland.  In this area, the boys practiced attaching and detaching the drawbars of the Farmall F-12’s.  They also practiced attaching and detaching the rear section of a cultivator, the mower, and some of the other Quick-Attachable equipment using the long speed-wrench which was standard equipment with all the Quick-Attachable equipment.

While learning the advantages of the Quick-Attachable equipment, they also learned some of the disadvantages.  For instance, the boys learned that the support stand for the Quick-Attachable No. 12 mower was badly designed.  It was more of a hinderance than a help.

A rear view of the Model 12 “Quick-Attachable” mower mounted on an early gray colored F-12 with factory installed French and Hecht rims and rubber-tires.

All through the spring of 1935, the boys practiced and aimed their sights on the Illinois State Fair to be held in August.  As the summer progressed, however, Bill learned that he would be unable to attend the State Fair due to his family’s schedule.  Reluctantly, he had to withdraw from the contest.  Today, it is not known exactly what family event conflicted with the State Fair, but Bill stopped going to the practice sessions at Wise and Dowland in early summer.  If he had participated at the State Fair, he may have been captured on film by the camera crew who was filming the event for the movie Quickest On, Quickest Off that would be shown at the dealership shows in February of 1936.

Although Bill did not have a chance to attend the Illinois State Fair, viewers of the film Quickest On, Quickest Off do get a chance to look around at the young boys who were participating in the contest at the Fair as well as the people in the audience.  It offers the viewer a chance to sit in the stands of the International Harvester tent at the 1935 Fair.  Talking with Bill Rees and the people involved in the preparation for the contest is like sitting next to an IH employee and having the employee tell you about the work that went into preparing for the contest.  It increases our enjoyment and understanding of the promotional activities of the past.

A Two-Bottom McCormick-Deering Little Genius Plow with 14-inch Bottoms

A two-bottom McCormick-Deering Little Genius Plow with 14-inch Bottoms

by

Brian Wayne Wells

As published in the September/October 1994 issue of

Belt Pulley Magazine

A McCormick-Deering  2-bottom tractor plow with 14 inch bottoms was a common item in the typical sales contract  for the purchase of a Farmall Regular tractor.

            Antique tractor collecting is a fast growing sport.  Indeed Hemmings Motor News, who promotes antique car collecting, has called tractor collecting the fastest growing sport in the nation.  Old Abe’s News Summer of 1993, Vol. 8, No. 3, p. 3.  As our sport grows we also notice that restoration of tractors has recently been accompanied by restoration of farm machinery.

            It seems that when tractor restorers get their tractor finished they are often ready to find something to do with the tractor.  Witness all the events at the various shows around the nation; i.e., beer barrel roll with a tractor, the slow tractor races, the egg breaking contest and musical chairs with tractors.  The Belt Pulley, May/June 1993, Vol. 6, No. 3, p. 26; Green Magazine, October, 1993, Vol. 9, No. 10.  Hence it should not surprise anyone that the restoration of farm implements should be now gaining popularity.  What better way to put the restored tractor to use than to engage in field work with a restored farm implement.

Plowing the ground at a Show with a restored Farmall H tractor and Genius plow.

The most popular starting place for implement restoration is the grain thresher.  There are many “threshing” shows around the nation.  Nonetheless, there is usually a surplus of tractors for the number of threshers at many shows.  Where there is threshing at shows, there will be straw stacks.  This has created an opening for restored balers to be operated at the show.  Furthermore, shows that own their own land and grow their own grain to be threshed at the show, will offer an opportunity for exhibiters to employ their tractors in the plowing of the fields where the grain has been harvested.  Therefore, plows too have become a popular restoration project.

A row of plows at a Show, all with land polished bottoms is a sign of the growing popularity of the restoration of farm implements in addition to the restoration of farm tractors

Additionally, tractor advertising has been responsible for some of the popularity of plows as restoration projects.  Down through the history of tractor advertising, the power of a tractor has been more often described in terms of the number of plow bottoms that it could pull rather than in terms of the horsepower developed by the engine.  As a result, tractor advertising often shows the tractor plowing in typical farm fields.  Generally, these pictures are taken from the front of the tractor about 45 degrees to the furrow side of the tractor.

Having seen many of our favorite tractors in such advertising photos, my brother and I were enthusiastically looking for a plow in the winter of 1992-1993.  We dreamed of the pictures that we could take of each other on any of the Farmall tractors owned by our family.  These tractors were a 1937 Farmall F-20 (Serial No. 71355), a 1944 Farmall H (Serial No. 173093), a 1945 Farmall B (Serial No. 130161), a 1951 Farmall Super C (Serial No. 116462) and a 1953 Farmall Super M ( Serial No. 31534).

Mark Wells working with the Trebesch plow in the fields on the grounds of the LeSueur Pioneer Power Assoc. in 1994
Mark Wells, brother of the current author, working in the fields of the LeSueur Pioneer Power grounds in 1994 with the Delmer Trebesch 2-bottom McCormick-Deering Little Genius plow.

At the April, 1993 LeSueur Pioneer Power Swap Meet we found and purchased a 2-bottom McCormick-Deering Little Genius plow with 14 inch bottoms.  This plow had a broken clutch lift mechanism on the land wheel side and was missing both coulters.  Nonetheless, the plow was restorable.  We saw the plow as a possible match for either the 1937 F-20 or the 1944 H.  Originally, the plow had steel wheels, but these had been cut down to be fitted with rubber tires.  The furrow wheel was a 6.00 by 16 tire.  However, the land wheel was fitted with 4.75 X 19″ rim.

The Trebesch plow brought home from the 1993 Pioneer Power Swap Meet
The Trebesch plow brought home from the 1993 Pioneer Power Swap Meet

Through the Case\International database and the purchase of another Little Genius “parts” plow from Jim Schultz of LeSueur, Minnesota we were able to replace all the broken or missing parts on the plow.

Johnson Bros. IHC dealership showroom in 1941
The new 1941 Little Genius two-bottom plow in the foreground appears to have French and Hecht rims for the rubber tires on the front of the plow.

Originally, I thought that the 4.75 X 19″ land side wheel was an abnormality and had contemplated having the wheel re-cut to fit a 7.00 by 16 tire rim which is pictured in one of the newer (late 1940’s) Owners Manuals for the No. 8, Little Genius plow.  Then I saw the 1941 picture of the showroom of Johnson Bros. Implement in Taylorsville, Illinois contained in the November/December 1994 issue of Red Power. (Red Power, November/December 1993, Volume 8, Number 4, p. 18.)  In the foreground of that picture is a Little Genius on rubber tires and the land wheel is considerably narrower and taller than the furrow wheel.  Both front wheel rims on that plow were spoke type rims.  It looked almost exactly like our plow!

The Trebesch plow was originally a steel-wheeled plow, but the wheels were cut down and made to look like the F. & H. rims shown on the picture of the Johnson Bros. showroom above.
The Trebesch plow was originally a steel-wheeled plow, but the wheels were cut down and made to look like the F. & H. rims shown on the picture of the Johnson Bros. showroom above.

 

Although, our plow wheels were, originally, steel and were cut down to be fitted with rubber tires only after market, the person who cut the wheels down, purposely fitted land side wheel with a 4.75 X 19″ rim.  He apparently tried to keep the plow looking like a rubber-tired version of the same plow as it was being sold by International Harvester.  We realized the plow as it was now configured was very close to the configuration of rubber-tired plows sold in 1941.  We decided to leave the land side wheel just as it existed.

Restored and repainted the land side (left side) wheel of the Delmer Trebesch plow reflects the wheel configuration of plows sold in 1941.

Next we undertook to paint the plow.  Like most McCormick-Deering equipment, the Little Genius is painted three different colors.  The Farmall red, IH-2150, Martin-Senour 99-4115 or PP&G-Ditzler 71310, was no trouble to find.  The blue paint, IH-1150, Martin-Senour 90R-3736, we found easily by using C.H. Wendel’s Notebook.  However, the white or cream color presented more of a problem.  There has been much discussion of this cream color.  The most recent study done by Ken Updike in a recent issue of Red Power. (Red Power, January/February 1994, Volume 8, Number 5, p. 5).  In that article he accurately states that there were many names used for the various off-whites or cream colors from 1927 down through 1985.  Also none of these paints are available under the names or numbers used today.  Additionally, there exist no paint chips of those paints which can be compared with paints available today.

However, we did find strong evidence that the cream color used on the plow and other McCormick-Deering implements is none other than the Cub Cadet white (IH-759-3264) which is currently available from Case/International.  We found this by a rather circuitous route.

Although our plow had rubber tires on the front wheels, the trailing wheel was still a steel wheel.  I have always enjoyed rubber tires more than steel wheels.  (Indeed, a quote from the International Harvester movie, Keep It Moving (1940) represents  my feelings.  “This is where the fun begins! Up into the driver’s seat and away we go, rolling on rubber!”).  Consequently, I wanted to replace the trailing wheel with a rubber-tired wheel.  I worked through Matejcek Implement in Faribault and Barneveld Implement in Barneveld, Wisconsin to find a rim for the trailing wheel.  There were only five of these rims left at International Harvester dealerships over the entire nation.

We obtained the one from Barneveld, Wisconsin.  It had been lying around in a warehouse in Barneveld for 20 years.  This is a rim that serves no other purpose in the International Harvester line of equipment, other that as a rim for the trailing wheel of the Little Genius plow.  We purchased it and when it arrived we found it was painted cream colored.  We found this color to be indistinguishable from the white on the hood of our Cub Cadet.  We could find no place in the Cub Cadet line of equipment where this rim could be used.  The rim was used only as a trailing wheel on the Little Genius.  Since the rim had been indoors for all its life we concluded that it was an accurate sample of the cream color for plow wheels.

Incidentally, the Cub Cadet white was also indistinguishable from the cream color of the wheels on the toy plow offered by Ertl in its Precision Series.  Apparently, the Ertl Company engineers had reached the same conclusion regarding the correct shade of cream/white for McCormick-Deering equipment.

The toy model of the McCormick-Deering Little Genius plow on steel wheels seems to indicate that Cub Cadet cream is the proper color for the wheels of the Little Genius plow.

Furthermore, it is the opinion of Clarence Griep, long time employee of the Parts Department of the H & W Dealership of New Prague, Minnesota and Larson Implement in Northfield, Minnesota that the Cub Cadet white is the same color as the cream color of the past.

Furthermore, there was a letter to the editor from Dave Brink in the March/April 1994 issue of Red PowerRed Power, March/April 1994, Volume 8, Number 6, p. 6.  This letter contained a response to the Ken Updike article noted above.  Dave Brink pointed out that VanSickle Paint Manufacturing Company of Lincoln, Nebraska is still offering an “International White” to be used on the impliment wheels of McCormick-Deering equipment.  VanSickle is a company that dates from 1907.  They are a long time supplier of paint to Tractor Supply Company and other retail farm stores.  They may evev have been one of the original suppliers of paint to the Internaional Harvester Company for the painting of original equipment.  When the author contacted Dave Van Eck at VanSickle, the author learned that the present shade of cream/white offered by VanSickle as its International White has not changed in history of the company.  Moreover, the present International White is also sold for the Cub Cadet white to be used in restoring Cub Cadets.  VanSickle also sent the author a paint chip card.  The chip of the VanSickle Interntional White matches not only the Cub Cadet White we have purchased from Case/International but also matches the color of the rim of the trailing wheel on our Little Genius plow.

If Cub Cadet white has always been the color of the wheels of McCormick-Deering equipment, why then does the Cub Cadet white seem so bright in comparison to the memories that people have of this color.  Indeed the author, himself has recollections of this cream color being much darker and more yellow.  The reason for this discrepancy may lie in the differences between the formulas of the paints used in the past as opposed to today’s paints.

The Nitrocellulose lacquer paints used in the 1930’s, 1940’s and early 1950’s did not stand up to the weather as well as the enamel paints used today and, therefore, the darker cream or yellowish color of the wheels on the plows may have resulted from the rapid aging of the paint.  Furthermore, cream is the worst offender because it shows age much faster that the other colors.  This aging could have occurred even on new machinery prior to the sale at the dealership.  Therefore, the new implement would appear to have a darker shade of cream color even as the new implement appeared at the dealership!  There is a good discussion of tractor paints in the book How to Restore Your Farm Tractor, by Robert Pripps.  Robert N. Pripps, How to Restore Your Farm Tractor, (Oseola, Wisconsin: Motorbooks International 1992) pp. 147-149.

If the cream color used by International Harvester all down through the years were the same color why were there so many different names for this paint?  We don’t have an answer to this but, we know that International Harvester did engage in multiple names in at least one other occasion.

The Power Lift system under the operator’s seat on a Farmall Model F-12/14.

The Farmall F-12 has a power lift system which fit under the seat of the tractor.  In the 1936 International Harvester promotional movie, Quickest On, Quickest Off, (1936) this lift system is shown in operation and the system is called the “power lift system.”  However, just one year later in the movie, Practical Magic (1937) the system is called “the hydraulic lift system.  These two systems are indistinguishable from each other in all the literature that the author has been able to locate.  To add to the confusion this same single system is called the hydraulic/power lift system in the Parts manual for the F-12 and F-14.

Because International Harvester used these two names interchangeably to describe the same lift system for the F-12, we think it entirely reasonable, in the absence of contradictory evidence, to suppose that the various names used by International Harvester for the cream white color were different names for the same shade of white.  Therefore, we conclude, despite even our own reservations that the Cub Cadet White, IH-759-3264, or Ditzler 8665 is the proper color for a wheels of a Little Genius plow, as that plow would have looked when it came out of the factory.  The only difference will be that modern acrylic paints will mean that once the plow is repainted, will retain this like-new look for many years and not yellow with age.

Pre-war Trebesch plow in background compared with post-war plow in foreground
Here the pre-war Trebesch plow is appropriately matched to a 1937 Farmall F-20, while the post-war Lawrence Harris plow is matched with the 1944 Farmall H.

We are able to put the plow to use in the fields at the LeSueur Pioneer Power site, preparing the grounds for planting of the next year’s winter wheat.  When we do so using the 1937 F-20 we see, hear and smell the same experiences that our grandfather, George C. Wells might have experienced with his 1931 Regular in years 1939 through 1942.  When we use the 1944 H we envision Wayne Wells plowing on the Wells farm with the Wells family 1942 H, (mentioned in The Belt Pulley, November/December 1993, Vol. 6, No. 6, p. 30) which replaced the 1931 Regular or we envision our other grandfather, Howard Hanks or our uncles Fred or Bruce Hanks “busting sod” for the first time on the Bagan farm at Le Roy, Minnesota in the early fall of 1944 with the Hanks family 1942 H. (The Belt Pulley, January/February 1994, Vol. 7, No. 1, p. 14.)  For a while we can walk in the shoes of those people at those times in the past.

The Wartime Farmall Model H Tractor

The Wartime Farmall Model H Tractor

by

Brian Wayne Wells

As published in the July/August 1994 issue of

Belt Pulley Magazine

The supply of tractors and farm machinery was limited during the Second World War because of wartime economic and raw material restrictions.

If the experience of our family is any clue, the Farmall H seems to occupy a unique position in the history of tractor-powered farming.  There seems to have been a great number of H’s built and sold during the Second World War.  However, following the war, and especially into the 1950s, they seem to have been very quickly replaced by tractors which could handle three-bottom plows and four-row cultivators.  Production figures seem to support this conclusion, indicating that production of the H fell off after 1950.  Red Power March/April, Vol. 7, No. 6.

The Famall H was introduced as part of the “Letter Series” tractors in 1939.

The Farmall H was introduced in 1939 and, although the tractor continued in production through 1952 and into 1953, it seems to have served as the primary tractor on a lot of farms for only the very short period of time from 1940 to 1946.  After this time the H was relegated to a secondary role on the farm.  The primary role was taken by three-plow tractors, like the Farmall M.  As has been pointed out in prior articles, Antique Power, November/December, Vol. 2, No. 1, pp. 15-16, farmers in 1939 were at first reluctant to buy the Farmall M because of the reputation of the F-30.  The F-30 had a reputation for bulkiness, awkwardness and being hard to handle.  Because the M was thought to be the successor to the F-30, sales of the M were not all that they could have been in the early years of production.  This may have inflated the sales of the H which was the successor to the very popular F-20.

The Wartime Farmall H was part of the Arsenal of Democracy on the Home Front.

At any rate, there were a great number of H’s purchased during the Second World War.  Indeed a great number of these wartime H’s are still around today.  The wartime H’s usually stand out because they are fitted with rear wheels which have been cut down from old steel wheels.  As many readers will know, although the H was sold with rear rubber tires prior to the war (notice the reprint of a picture of the showroom of Johnson Brothers Implement in Taylorsville, Illinois, taken in 1941, which is included in the November/December 1993 issue of Red Power, Vol. 8, No. 4, p. 18), during the war the rubber shortages meant that many tractors were once again commonly manufactured with steel rear wheels.

Both sides of the author’s family owned a Farmall H during the war and continued to use the H as the primary row-crop tractor on their respective farms in the same LeRoy, Minnesota neighborhood for a short period of time following the war.  As noted in prior articles, The Belt Pulley January/February 1994, Vol. 7, No. 1, p. 14,  the Howard Hanks family moved to the LeRoy, Minnesota area in March of 1945 to purchase a 400-acre farm in Beaver Township of Fillmore County.  This farm was known in the area as the Bagan farm; however, in 1945 the farm was owned by A.E. Rehwaldt.  He sold the “Bagan” farm to the Howard Hanks family.  Though the farm would be legally transferred on March 1, 1945, the agreement was actually reached in the late summer of 1944.  The family moved down to the farm and stayed about 10 days in August of 1944 to do some fall plowing.

These are two 1942 Wartime Farmall Model H’s owned by each side of the current author’s family. In the front is the George Wells Farmall H hitched to the wagon. In the rear is the 1942 Farmall H owned by the Howard Hanks family hitched to the John Deere No. 7A combine. This picture was taken in November of 1947 during the soybean harvest on he Hanks farm.

Albert E. Rehwaldt also owned a 1942 Farmall H which he wanted to sell.  He had purchased this tractor in 1942 under the regulations of the wartime Office of Price Administration (O.P.A.).  He had paid $800.00 for the H.  Under O.P.A. regulations he was prohibited from re-selling the tractor for more than the original cost of the tractor.  Therefore, because the original cost of the tractor was $800.00 in 1942, he was prohibited from selling the H at more than $800.00.  Even as a used tractor, the H was worth more than $800.00 in 1944.

One way for a seller to get a better price for his tractor under the regulations of the O.P.A. was to offer the tractor as part of a contract price for a farm.  The price of the tractor would be submerged in the total price of the package deal for the farm.

In this way the 1942 Farmall H was purchased by the Howard Hanks family in the fall of 1944 together with the Bagan farm.  It was the family’s first row-crop tractor.  With the McCormick-Deering 238 cultivator that came with the H, the family would now be able to cultivate two rows at a time.  The H had an electric starter, electric lights, and the Lift-All hydraulic which was common to Farmalls introduced in 1939.  This 1942 H had steel wheels on the front as well as in the rear.  However, in the fall of 1944, while still living on the Goff farm in Mapleton, Minnesota, the family went shopping in Mankato, Minnesota.  There in Mankato the Hanks boys happened to find a couple of drop center wheels and matching rims for rubber tires for the front end of the Farmall H.  These wheels and rims were purchased and installed on the 1942 H during the spring of 1945.

One of the pictures included with this article shows this 1942 Farmall H in the fall of 1945 with its new wheels and rubber tires on front.  The H is hitched to the  John Deere No. 7 combine.  The picture shows Howard Hanks’ second son (now Reverend) Bruce Hanks preparing to attach the header to the No. 7 combine in preparation for the 1945 soybean harvest.

img203
Bruce Hanks stands near the Model 7A John Deere combine owned by his father, Howard Hanks. The combine is hitched to the Hanks family 1942 Farmall Model H tractor in the fall of 1945. Although the front wheels have been switched to rubber tires as described in this article, but the rear wheels are still the original steel wheels that came on the tractor when new.

In 1946, both the rear wheels of the Farmall H and the wheels of the No. 7 combine were cut down and fitted with rubber tires.  This was necessary because the Hanks family had used the John Deere No. 7 combine to do custom combining in their old neighborhood around the Goff farm in Mapleton in the fall of 1944.  Now they looked forward to supplementing the family income with the same type of custom work in the neighborhood around the Bagan farm.  The combine and H would be on the road between farms; therefore, rubber tires were a much needed improvement.  The task of cutting the steel wheels down to be fitted with rims for rubber tires was performed by Joe and Earl Lamon, blacksmiths in the town of LeRoy, Minnesota.

As compared with the picture of the 1942 Hanks Farmall Model H in the autum of 1946 which has been attached to this article above, this picture of the same 1942 Hanks Farmall H taken a year later during the soybean harvest of the autumn of 1946 reveals that the tractor has been repainted and properly decaled and has had the rear wheels cut down and mounted with rubber tires.
As compared with the picture of the 1942 Hanks Farmall Model H in the autum of 1946 which has been attached to this article above, this picture of the same 1942 Hanks Farmall H taken a year later during the soybean harvest of the autumn of 1946 reveals that the tractor has been repainted and properly decaled and has had the rear wheels cut down and mounted with rubber tires.

Many of the wartime H’s were cut down and fitted with rubber tires in this manner to extend the usable life of the tractor in modern farming operations.  Anyone who has driven one of these H’s will remember that the process was never perfect and usually resulted in the wheels having a slight wobble which became noticeable at high speeds.  The drop center rims for rubber tires on the rear as well as the front was a preferred solution because they were perfectly round and did not wobble at high speeds; however, cutting down of steel wheels was a cheaper alternative.

Although the H had always been a five-speed tractor, when the steel-wheeled version was ordered, International Harvester installed a cap screw on the operator’s platform near the gearshift lever, which would prevent the tractor from accidentally being shifted into 5th gear.  This resulted in the steel-wheeled H being a four-speed tractor with a top speed of 5-1/8 mph.  C.H. Wendel Nebraska Tractor Tests, p. 122.  Custom farming required that tractors and machinery be moved from farm to farm in a hurry.  Transport time was wasted time.  To be sure, the 5-1/8 mph speed was an improvement over the only other tractor owned by the family when they moved to the Bagan farm, a 1931 John Deere D.  (This John Deere D is pictured elsewhere.  Antique Power, May/June 1994, Vol. 6, No. 4, p. 22.)  The two-speed 1931 D had a top speed of 3-1/4 mph, (C.H. Wendel Nebraska Tractor Tests, p. 60).  Still, the H was painfully slow on the road, so it was a noteworthy day when the rubber tires were finally mounted on the back in the spring of 1946 and the cap screw on the platform could safely be removed!  Suddenly the top speed of the tractor was increased by more than three times to 16-1/8 mph!

At times, the Hank’s Farmall H performed tasks which were not strictly related to farming operations.  In April of 1947, Bruce Hanks was getting married and leaving the farm.  It had been a wet spring and the roads were in bad shape. The wedding took place on April 2, 1947 at the Little Brown Church in Nashua, Iowa.  (This is the church that inspired the hymn “Little Church in the Wild Wood” where so many weddings have been held.)  After the wedding was over and the bridal party was ready to head out on the honeymoon, it was discovered that some of the luggage had been left back at the house on the Bagan farm in LeRoy.  Howard Hanks headed out after the ceremony in his 1936 Plymouth.  The last mile over the township road (called the “rabbit road south” so as not to be confused with the “rabbit road north!”) leading to the house from the U.S. 56  was so muddy that he did not think he would make it.  However, he did pull up into the yard and did retrieve the luggage.  Rather than set out again in the car he started up the 1942 H which was now outfitted with rubber tires and the fifth gear, and while driving with one hand and holding the luggage with the other, Howard brought the luggage to the corner of U.S. 56 and the rabbit road south where the bridal party awaited their luggage and the start of their honeymoon.  Admittedly, this is an unusual task for a farm tractor, but the Farmall H had saved this most important day!