The 1941 Farmall Model B

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The Farmall B:

Second Tractor on the Farm, But First in the Heart 


Brian Wayne Wells

As published in the November/December 1993 issue of

Belt Pulley Magazine

Volume 6, Number 6

Prior to early 1941, all Farmall Model B tractors were manufactured with a single front wheel and was called “the best little tractor on three wheels.”


Farm tractors brought much improvement to farming; however, farming with a single tractor was beginning to have its shortcomings by the mid-1950’s.  As witness of this, I have a picture that I took in the summer of 1958.  Although this picture seems to be a nondescript picture of our 1950 Farmall M powering the John Deere grain elevator during the oat harvest of July, 1958, it takes on more significance with a little explanation.  The picture embodies many of the experiences of single-tractor farming.

The 1950 Farmall M bearing the Serial No. 218137 powers the John Deere elevator during the oat harvest in the summer of 1958. The elevator leads to the corn crib on the Wells farm in LeRoy Township, in Mower County, Minnesota. The were being stored in the grain bin over the alley way of the double corn crib. On the lower extreme left of the photo, the leg of the A-frame jack that is described in the article can be seen. This jack is not needed for the wagon shown in the picture because the wagon has its own hoist under the box that can lift the front end of the box to let the grain flow easily out rear of the wagon box into the elevator pickup shown here.

The 1950 Farmall M bearing the Serial No. 218137 was our only tractor.  My Dad had purchased it new in 1950.  He traded a 1942 Farmall H to get the M.  Later, he would begin to speculate that he should have kept the H as a second tractor; however, the need for a second tractor did not appear as crucial in 1950 as it would in later years as this picture shows.  In this picture, the M had just returned from the field where it had spent the morning pulling the Massey-Harris Clipper combine.  From about mid-morning (when the dew was gone and the windrows dry) until noon the combine could fill our two wagons.  The M was then unhitched from the combine and hitched to the wagons which were brought to the building site for unloading.  This was planned so that the family could then have dinner and not waste time.  Nonetheless, after unloading the wagons, it would be well into the afternoon before the combine would be started in the field again.

The M had to be unhitched from the wagon and connected to the elevator, unconnected from the elevator and re-hitched to the empty wagon to pull it out of the way, and then hitched to the next wagon.  That wagon was then pulled up to the elevator and blocked so that the wagon would not roll when unhitched.  Then the tractor was once again connected to the elevator.  Additionally, all of our wagons were equipped either with hydraulic lifts under the box or fitted to use a home-made “A-frame” jack which would be placed at the front of the wagon.  This A-frame jack, which Dad welded himself, would be fitted with a hydraulic cylinder borrowed from M’s four-row cultivator.  The leg of this A-frame jack can be seen in the foreground of the picture with the John Deere elevator.  It is on the extreme left, leaning up against the granary which is to the left of the picture.

While running the elevator, the M would also be connected by long hydraulic hoses to the wagon or to the A-frame jack.  Indeed, the wagon in this picture is connected in this manner to the M, but the hoses cannot be seen.  Because we lived close to my mother’s family, Howard Hanks, we could occasionally borrow their Massey-Harris 22 or Massey-Harris 44.  (This is the same 44 that is described in the July/August 1993 issue of The Belt Pulley Vol. 6, No. 4.  The 22 is the same tractor that was pictured on the cover of the February issue of the Minnesota Edition of Fastline parts magazine, Vol. 6, No. 7, and is also pictured in the May/June issue of Wild Harvest: Massey Collectors News Vol. 10, No. 3.)  Both of these tractors had the Massey-Harris Depth-O-Matic hydraulic system and had the hydraulic bulkhead quick couplers which were compatible with the connections on our wagons.  However, these tractors were busy on the Hanks farm and were not always available to us. Continue reading The 1941 Farmall Model B

Researching Rights

Researching Rights


Brian Wayne Wells, Juris Doctor

As published in the September/October 1993 issue of

Belt Pulley Magazine, Volume 6, Number 5

It has come to my attention that some researchers and collectors of antique tractor information have occasionally been denied access to information[1] that is held in various collections around the country.  Some of these collections are held in publicly funded institutions.  When there is a denial of access to public information held in institutions which are even partially funded[2] by the federal or  state government, the law provides a remedy in the form of the Freedom of Information Act. 

            To clarify this legal situation for my fellow antique tractor enthusiasts, I thought it appropriate to share some of my experiences with lawsuits brought under Freedom of Information Acts of the various states for release of public records.  For an analysis of representative samples of state Freedom of Information Acts, I have randomly selected the state laws of Iowa[3] and Wisconsin.[4]  Although, there are some differences between the laws of the various states with regard to freedom of information law, these two states are representative of the majority of states in the area of freedom of information. 

            Both Iowa[5] and Wisconsin[6] declare that the policy of the state is to allow the greatest possible access to all public documents.  This is a recognition that public documents belong to the public, and that institutions in possession of the documents are merely “custodians” of the documents.[7]  The public’s access to public documents is to be unrestricted, except for the limitations imposed by the state statutes and common law.             Both Iowa and Wisconsin statutes provide exceptions to the law for police records of ongoing investigations[8] and trade secrets of corporations.[9]  Wisconsin also exempts computer programs from their Freedom of Information Act.[10]  Iowa attempts to go much farther and extends the list of exemptions to include records of appraisals of private property,[11] industrial information on a company with whom the state is negotiating,[12] information concerning the procedures used to control disturbances in prisons[13] and records of purchases of liquor at state-operated liquor stores.[14]  The Iowa law even seeks to exempt library records containing information on material which has been requested or checked out by patrons of the library.[15]  Iowa may appear to have included so many exemptions to the law that the exemptions are the rule rather than the law itself.  Indeed, in the exemption of communications contained in public records without the permission of the person making the communication[16] and in exemption of governmental reports which would give advantage to competitors,[17] the whole intent of the law seems to have been reversed.  Suddenly there appears to be more public records exempted from public inspection than are available to the public.  This is a deception, however, because the statutes of Iowa have been greatly modified by court decisions and the opinions of the Iowa Attorney General.[18]  The result is that Iowa is not much different from Wisconsin or other states with a strong law in favor of researchers of public documents.

            In summary, researchers of antique tractors seeking to look at and copy records held in public institutions should not be put off by over-zealous public librarians who attempt to deny him/her access to the records based on exemptions in the statutes.  Chances are strong that the librarian does not know the law well enough to understand the full impact (or lack of impact) of these exemptions.  Even if the librarian has some understanding of the statutes, chances are they have not watched the effect of court decisions on the exemptions in the statutes. 


            In case this article seems to be too critical of public librarians, I should mention that this article also draws heavily from the research I conducted while employed in Mississippi at the Office of the Secretary of State as a defender of the right of public officials to deny public access to certain records. 

            In that case, the Mississippi Republican Party sued the Mississippi State Commission of Public Safety for “access”[19] to the lists of all drivers license records held by the State.  The lawsuit was brought to court under the Mississippi Public Records Act of 1983.[20]  This is Mississippi’s Freedom of Information Act.  At that time I was attempting to support the position of the Department of Public Safety and to prevent the “access” or release of driver’s license records.  We felt that the state had a duty to the people who held driver’s licenses to protect their addresses, telephone numbers, Social Security numbers (Mississippi uses the Social Security number as the license number), blood type and other information that may appear on the driver’s license records from people who may use this information for fraudulent purposes.  Although the Republican Party merely wanted the lists to send out political information, their legal position in court was that “anyone” should be able to have this information.  We felt this position was extreme and would be open to abuse. 

            To make a long story short, the State of Mississippi lost that case and had to provide a copy of all driver’s license records to the Republican Party.  The Mississippi Supreme Court held that the information was a “public record” within the meaning of the Freedom of Information Act and therefore the public must be granted access to the information.[21]      If the State of Mississippi was forced to allow access to addresses and other current and personal information contained on driver’s licenses, consider how strong the claim of the researcher or antique tractor collector would be when he/she attempts to look at or copy old tractor pictures, documents and other information on old tractors which contains no current personal information.  There is no reasonable way that the exemptions contained in either the Iowa, Wisconsin or Mississippi law can be applied to tractor advertising, pictures, serial numbers, etc., held in public archives and libraries that antique tractor enthusiasts would be interested in reading and copying. 


            The sole responsibility of the custodian of records to which the public has a right of access is the “preservation” of those records.  To this end, the custodian may adopt rules to prevent damage or disorganization of the records;[22] however, these rules may not be used to deny public access to those records.[23]  In both Iowa and Wisconsin, the right of public access includes the right to obtain a copy of the records.[24]  Such copying may be done by the custodian or under the supervision of the custodian to prevent damage or disorganization.[25]  However, if the copying is to be done by the custodian, the quality of the copies of documents, pictures and audio or video tape provided by the custodian is to be as good as possible.[26] 

            The custodians of the documents are allowed to charge a fee for their expenses involved in locating, preparing and copying of public records.[27]  If copies are requested by mail, the custodian may charge shipping or mailing fees for sending the copies to the “requester.”  However, the fees must be no more than that amount that is “actual, necessary and directly incurred by the custodian in providing access or copies of the records to the public.”[28] 


            Sometimes researchers will be denied access on a theory of “invasion of privacy.” This should not be confused with the United States Constitutional right of privacy; rather, this is a common law cause of action against an individual for some injury caused by the act of another.  This theory depends solely on the question “What are the damages?”  If there exists no damages which a court of law will recognize, then there exists no case under the “right of privacy.”  Generally, this applies only to pictures and images.  If a researcher found a picture of a person taken inside a mental institution and decided to publish the picture, there would be damage to the person pictured and the person would then have a good case for invasion of privacy against the researcher.  Likewise, the right of privacy would protect Roy Rogers or any other famous person who makes their living from their own popularity and selling images of themselves.

            Obviously, these two facets of the right of privacy cannot be applied to any literature, pictures or movies which have been published by farm equipment manufacturers.  There is no damage to any person pictured, because in the majority of instances the person pictured is not famous enough to be injured by any subsequent publication.  Furthermore, antique tractor enthusiasts are interested in the machinery pictured and not the persons.  The pictures, if found in the collection of a corporation, would probably indicate that the pictures never belonged to the person in the first place;  barring exceptional circumstances, the pictures belonged to the corporation.

            This right of privacy should not be confused with copyright law.  The United States Copyright Law will provide some additional protection to the authors of written material and audio or video tapes if they register the material with the Copyright Office.  In most cases the advertising materials sought by antique tractor enthusiasts were never copyrighted in the first place, because the advertising value of the literature would be diminished by copyrighting the materials.  Copyrights are expensive, need to be maintained and cannot be transferred.  Any material that was transferred to a public library will fall outside the copyright protection.


            The right of access to public documents is also the right to publish those documents.  Restriction of the right of access to public records cannot be based on the “use” to which the “requester” wishes to put the documents.[29]  Wisconsin goes further and states that “no showing of interest is required as a prerequisite to inspection.”[30]  The librarian cannot even ask the researcher the purpose intended for the materials.

            Both Iowa and Wisconsin law provide remedies for the researcher if he/she is denied access and copies of any public records.  The remedy is called mandamus.[31]  Mandamus is a court action which orders a public official to perform an act.[32]  In this case, mandamus means that the court would order the librarian to provide access to the materials. 

Wisconsin provides that the researcher may request that the Wisconsin Attorney General or the appropriate district attorney if the library is a county-funded library,  bring the action for mandamus to court.[33]  Iowa allows for the Iowa Attorney General or any county attorney to bring an action for mandamus.[34]  This infers that Iowa has the same protection as Wisconsin, since the Attorney General or county attorney would be acting on behalf of someone who was denied access to public records.  This saves the researcher from having to go through the initial expense of hiring a lawyer to bring the action in court.  I say “initial” because both states allow courts to order the custodian of the records to pay the researcher’s attorney’s fees and legal expenses, if the researcher is successful in court.[35] 

            In conclusion, researchers have some very strong laws on their side when they are denied access to public documents.  I hope that this information will be of assistance to all the antique tractor researchers who have trouble getting information from publicly funded sources.

    [1]”Information” or “public record” is defined as any writing, document, tape recording, printing, picture, movie or other data stored in any other form.  IOWA CODE ANN. § 22.1 (West 1992); WIS. STAT. ANN. § 19.32(2) (West, 1992).

    [2]The gift of records to an institution is defined as “public support” given to the institution; therefore, the term “publicly supported institutions” will also include any institution outside the government which holds governmental records as well as any institution which receives even part of its funding from the state government or its subdivisions (county).  Consequently, all State and County Historical Museums and Societies are included as well as libraries and archives of the state or county.

    [3]IOWA CODE ANN §§ 22.1 to 22.14 (West 1992). 

    [4]WIS. STAT. ANN. §§ 19.21 to 19.42 (West 1992).

    [5]IOWA CODE ANN. § 22.2 (West 1992).

    [6]WIS. STAT. ANN. § 19.31 (West 1992).

    [7]IOWA CODE ANN. § 22.1; WIS. STAT. ANN. § 19.33.

    [8]IOWA CODE ANN. § 22.7(5) (West 1992); WIS. STAT. ANN. § 19.36(2) (West 1992).

    [9]IOWA CODE ANN. § 22.7(3) (West 1992); WIS. STAT. ANN. § 19.36(5) (West 1992).

    [10]WIS. STAT. ANN. § 19.36(4) (West 1992).

    [11]IOWA CODE ANN. § 22.7(7) (West 1992).

    [12] § 22.7(8).

    [13] § 22.7(15).

    [14] § 22.7(25).

    [15]Id. at § 22.7(13).

    [16]Id. at § 22.7(18)(a).

    [17]Id. at § 22.7(6).

    [18]KMEG Television, Inc. v. Iowa State Bd. of Regents, 440 N.W.2d 382 (Iowa 1989); Des Moines Independent Community School Dist. Public Records v. Des Moines Register and Tribune Co., 487 N.W.2d 666 (Iowa 1992); Shannon by Shannon v. Hansen, 469 N.W.2d 412 (Iowa 1991); Head v. Colloton, 331 N.W.2d 870 (Iowa 1983); Op. Att’y Gen. (Branstad) Aug. 24, 1990; Op. Att’y Gen. (King) March 18, 1976.

    [19]Roberts v. Mississippi Republican Party State Executive Committee, 465 So.2d 1050 (Miss. 1985).

    [20]MISSISSIPPI CODE ANN. §§ 25-61-1 to 25-61-17.

    [21]Roberts, 465 So.2d at 1054.

    [22]IOWA CODE ANN. § 22.3 (West 1992) and WIS. STAT. ANN. § 19.35(a),(b) and (f) (West 1992).

    [23]WIS. STAT. ANN. § 19.3

    [24]IOWA CODE ANN. § 22.2(1) (West 1992) and WIS. STAT. ANN. § 19.35(1) (West 1992).

    [25]IOWA CODE ANN. § 22.3 (West 1992); WIS. STAT. ANN. § 19.35(1) (West 1992).

    [26]WIS. STAT. ANN. § 19.35(b)(d) and (f) (West, 1992).

    [27]IOWA CODE ANN. § 22.3 (West 1992); WIS. STAT. ANN. §19.35(3) (West 1992).

    [28]IOWA CODE ANN. § 22.3 (West 1992); Op. Att’y Gen. (Stork) Aug. 13, 1981; WIS. STAT. ANN. § 19.35(3)(a) (West 1992); Op. Att’y Gen. Sept. 16, 1983.


    [29]Howard v. Des Moines Register and Tribune Co., 283 N.W.2d 289 (Iowa 1979).

    [30]Op. Att’y Gen., November 8, 1977.

    [31]IOWA CODE ANN. § 22.5 (1992); WIS. STAT. ANN. § 19.37(1) (1992).

    [32]D. DOBBS, LAW OF REMEDIES, § 2.10 (1973). 

    [33]WIS. STAT. ANN. § 19.37(1)(b) (1992).

    [34]IOWA CODE ANN. § 22.10(1) (1992).

    [35]IOWA CODE ANN. § 22.10(3)(c) (1992).

Our Problematic Massey Harris 44

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“Our Problematic Massey-Harris 44”


Fred Hanks

with Introduction and Remarks by Brian Wayne Wells

as published in the July/August 1993 issue of

Belt Pulley Magazine

Fred J. Hanks, on the left, and his father, Howard B. Hanks, clown a bit as they take the rebuilt engine block for the Massey-Harris model 44 tractor from the car to garage/workshop. The engine block has been uptown during this second overhaul of the 44 in the winter of 1960-1961 to be bored out to support larger pistons and sleeves to bring the displacement of the engine up to 288 cubic inches.



            My uncle, Fred J. Hanks farms in southern Minnesota.  He has restored numerous tractors.  Three of these restoration projects, a John Deere 620, a John Deere 630 and a John Deere model H were referred to in a magazine article he wrote for Green Magazine (Volume 9, No. , January, 1993, page  27.).  Another restoration project, a Massey-Harris 30 will be featured iin an upcoming issue of Wild Harvest.  Additionally, another project a 1950 Massey-Harris 22 was featured on the cover of a recent Minnesota Edition of  Fastline magazine, (Volume 6, Issue 7, February 1993).  The Massey-Harris 22 was one of two Masseys that used to share work with a John Deere model D on the Hanks farm from 1951 until 1966.  The other Massey, besides the model 22 was a 1951 Massey-Harris 44 which is pictured herein.

I have fond memories of the the 44 from my childhood.  However,  as this article will relate, my youth removed me from the harsh realities of the situation.  The following information was provided by me Uncle Fred and gathered in conversations in August 1992 and April of 1993.


Massey-Harris 44

Looking west inside the garage/workshop we see Fred J. Hanks standing on the right overlooking the empty frame of the Massey-Harris 44. The hood, gas tank, radiator, engine etc. of the tractor have all been removed. Howard B. Hanks stands at the work bench on the left. Straight ahead is the wood stove which is no doubt been loaded with wood and is burning with a nice robust fire on this cold winter’s day in the winter of 1960-1961.

The Massey-Harris 44 was selected after a comparison with similar row-crop tractors available from any of the five (5) tractor dealerships doing business in the small town of Leroy, Minnesota in 1951 (1950 pop. 730).  The Seese and Oksanen Implement dealership sold International Harvester Farmall tractors, the Farmers Co-operative operated the John Deere dealership, the Regan Ford car dealership also sold Ford  tractors, the LeRoy Equipment Company owned by the partnership of Merle Krinke and Duane Wetter sold Case tractor, and by 1951 Stub Orke had left the Regan Ford dealership to establish a new Massey-Harris dealership.  The Massey Harris 44 had the highest horsepower rating at the PTO shaft of any the other comparable tractors from the other four dealerships in town.  This is established in C. H. Wendel’s Nebraska Tractor Tests (1985) which shows that the Massey Harris model 44 delivered 40 hp. to the PTO shaft (Nebraska Test 389 [1947]); while the Case model DC delivered 32.94 hp. to the PTO shaft (Nebraska Tests 340[1940]); the Farmall model M delivered 33.46 hp. to the PTO shaft (Nebraska Test 328 [1939]); and the John Deere model A delivered 33.82 hp. to the PTO shaft (Nebraska Test 384]).

Based on this information we made the decision in 1951 to trade our 1942 steel wheeled Farmall model H in to the Stub Orke Massey-Harris dealership on the purchase of a new Massey-Harris 44.  Later, we found the horsepower developed by the engine in the tractor would not transfer to the rear wheels as pulling power,  We found that the to   comparable  m are 44 was include  of  00° longitude meridian line runs north and south over the states of North Dakota, light in the rear end and, thus, too heavy in the front.  Additionally, the PTO shaft, itself, was located too high on the rear end of the tractor to be convenient for most applications.  Continue reading Our Problematic Massey Harris 44

Belt Pulley Magazine Articles by Brian Wayne Wells