Category Archives: Ripe corn harvesting (field picking or corn husking)

Articles that describe any sort of ripe corn harvesting or field corn picking or stationary corn husking

The Rosenthau Corn Husker Company (Part II)

    The Rosenthal Corn Husker Company of

Milwaukee, Wisconsin (Part II)

                                                                        by

Brian Wayne Wells

                                                             with the assistance of

Jim McFarlane of Waunakee, Wisconsin

Lyle Sundry of Byron, Minnesota

Gary Jones of Owatonna, Minnesota

Jim Esbenshade of Colbert, Oklahoma

and

John McNamara of Eagle Rock Missouri

As published in the July/August 2001 issue of

 Belt Pulley Magazine

            The Rosenthal Corn Husker Company of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, was a pioneer in the corn husker/shredder market.  As the reader may recall, August Rosenthal had developed the idea of a corn husker/shredder on his parents’ farm in Reedsburg, Wisconsin, and had built the first successful prototype there.  In 1889, August, with the help of three of his brothers–William H, Gustav H., and Carl F.–patented the corn husker and incorporated the Rosenthal Corn Husking Machine Company to mass produce and sell their corn husker/shredder.  (See Part I of the “Rosenthal Corn Husker Company,” May/June 2001 issue of Belt Pulley magazine.)

Within the management of the new company, August served as Superintending Engineer and General Manager, William H. served as Manufacturing Superintendent, Gustav H. served as Corporate Secretary and Sales Manager, and Carl served as General Mechanician.  In addition, the Corporation hired on an attorney, James F. Trottman, who served as General Counsel. With the end of the First World War, the corn husking market was in a state of change.

Corn husker/shredders were dangerous machines and production of these machines could be fraught with liability.  For this reason, many producers of corn husker/shredders fell by the wayside and others merely withdrew from production.  J.I. Case withdrew from production of corn husker-shredders in 1920.  (C.H. Wendel, 150 Years of J.I. Case [Crestline Publishers: Sarasota, Fla., 1991], p. 125.)  Likewise, Advance-Rumley ceased production of its corn husker/shredders in 1928.  (C.H. Wendel, The Allis Chalmers Story [Crestline Publishing: Sarasota, Fla., 1988], p. 43.)

Despite the fact that some competitors left the corn husker/shredder market, some serious competitors of the Rosenthal corn husker/shredder continued to spring up.  One of the most significant competitors was the New Idea Company which introduced its own six-roll model corn husker/shredder in 1927.  (C.H. Wendel, American Farm Implements and Antiques, [Krause Publications: Iola, Wisc., 1997], p. 55.)  In 1935, New Idea introduced a four-roll husker/shredder.  (See the article called the “New Idea Spreader Company of Coldwater, Ohio” in the September/October 1998 issue of Belt Pulley, Vol. 11, No. 5, p. 37.)  Soon New Idea had its own line of husker/shredders, including a two-roll model, a four-roll model and a six-roll model.  When all these events settled out, there were three “big names” left in the corn husker/shredder market, e.g., International Harvester, New Idea and Rosenthal.

Following the successful introduction of the Big 4 four-roll corn husker/shredder in 1903, the Rosenthal Company completely redesigned its two-roll Big Cyclone model corn husker/shredder and called it the No. 1.  The No. 1 was a 1,685 pound machine which the Rosenthal Company alleged could be adequately powered with a 6 to 8 horsepower gasoline engine.  The No. 1 was the smallest corn husker in the Rosenthal line and, although it was clearly designed for single farm usage, it would now have a wheeled carriage for easy transport.  After having lost much market share to competitors because of its adherence to the outdated concept of single farm usage, the company now knew that the corn husker was more akin to the grain thresher that would be used on many different farms throughout a “season” rather than being used on a single farm intermittently throughout the entire winter.  Thus, all corn huskers/shredders in the entire Rosenthal line would now be mounted on wheel carriages for easy transport. Continue reading The Rosenthau Corn Husker Company (Part II)

The Rosenthal Corn Husker Company (Part I)

The Rosenthal Corn Husker Company of

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

                                                                       by

Brian Wayne Wells

                                                       with the assistance of

Jim McFarlane of Waunakee, Wisconsin

Gary Jones of Owatonna, Minnesota

and

John McNamara of Eagle Rock, Missouri

 

 

Picture a field bare of all plant-life except for the four-inch corn stubble carpeting the entire field, interrupted only by corn shocks (each shock composed of four or five bundles standing upright leaning against each other to permit the corn to dry in the field), with two or three pumpkins gathered at the feet of the first one or two shocks as one enters the field.  This memory conjures up some of the most romantic ideas of 19th century farmlife.  It is the time of season when the dry, cool air suggests that there may be “frost on the pumpkin” as the shocks sit through the night of the “harvest moon” (first full moon after the fall equinox).  By the time of the “hunter’s moon” (the second full moon after the fall equinox, occurring 28 days after the harvest moon), the pumpkins would have been gathered for fear of a “hard freeze.”  However, the corn would still be left in the field to be gathered by the farmer as he needed it throughout the wintertime, at which time he would “process” the corn (shuck and shell and/or grind) for feeding or for selling or, as he found the time in the winter, process the corn for storage.

Corn stored in the field in shocks for the winter.

 

Many devices (which are now museum pieces) were used in the early 19th century for processing corn, in particular, drying racks which were made of metal and designed to be hung from rafters to protect the corn from mice.  Each rack contained six to eight sharp spikes on which were impaled husked ears of corn.  The corn would hang from the rafters until needed by the farmer.

Corn drying on an individual drying rack.

 

Well into the winter, after snow blanketed the ground, the farmer would hitch up a team of horses to his “bundle wagon.”  For more convenient use during the winter, the wagon wheels of the bundle wagon would have been removed and replaced with runners.  The farmer would then head to the fields after his morning chores were complete to load up the wagon (sleigh) with corn shocks.  The shocks were then brought back to the barn where the farmer would remove each ear of corn by hand from its stalk and store the ears on a drying rack.  The by-product of this process (the corn stalk) would then be fed whole to the cows.  Cows are not finicky eaters, but in this case they would usually eat the leaves and the husks, and not the whole stalk.  Thus, the area around the feed bunk and the feed buck itself would become full of old corn stalks.  Farmers knew this was a waste of an important by-product.  However, at that time, there was little he could do about it; that is, until a new and unique machine came along to help the farmer speed the process of husking corn and to help refine the by-product into a more palatable product for the cows.  This new machine would be the corn husker-shredder.

Cornhuskers allowed the farmer to save the corn stalks and the corn husks–the by-product of a usual ripe corn harvest. Once chopped, the stalks and husks are called “stover” and can be fed to the cattle. Here this farmer has gone to the corn field with his bundle wagon and picked up a load of corn bundles from the shocks. Now his is operating the cornhusker/shredder with his tractor and ears of corn are coming out of the elevator of the corn husker into a waiting grain wagon. This ear corn will be taken to a small corn crib on the farm or may be stored on corn drying racks in the granary if there is no corn crib. Meanwhile the freshly chopped stover is being blown through the light-colored blower pipe, seen in this picture sticking upwards through the barn door leading to the mow of the barn. This stover is being piled up in the hay loft next to the hay. The stover will be fed to the milking cows throughout the winter. This is such a large barn that there may be a separate “room” to isolate and contain the pile of stower being blown into the hay loft, from being spread around in the hay loft. At milking time throughout the winter, the farmer will throw some of the stover down the hay chute into a waiting feed cart which will then be rolled around the barn to feed the entire dairy herd. Every couple of weeks throughout the winter, this farmer will be going to the field to pickup more corn shocks and repeat the process of corn husking/shredding just to keep a supply of stover on hand in the mow of the barn.   Invention of the corn husker/shredder allowed all farmers the possibility using a major by-product of the farm to be processed into a valuable feed for the farm.

 

The corn husker-shredder was the brainchild of a young boy, August Rosenthal, who developed the corn husker while living on his parents’ farm south of Reedsburg, Wisconsin, in Sauk County.  August Rosenthal’s parents, Carl Ludwig and Dora Rosenthal, were German Lutheran immigrants from the area around Hamburg, Germany.  Carl was a carpenter by trade, who, along with many other German immigrants of the time, settled in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  In 1880, as their family grew in size (seven children–all boys) and grew in maturity, Carl and Dora moved the family to a small farm south of Reedsburg.  Reedsburg was located near two great rivers–the Fox River and the Wisconsin River–which area would, in years to come, become the heartland of dairying in Wisconsin and would make Wisconsin the nation’s leading dairy state.  The Rosenthal boys all became enterprising young men as they grew up.  John Rosenthal, the oldest son, went into business in the Big Store in Reedsburg.  Friedrich, the next oldest, would go into business with the Meyer Harness Company in Reedsburg.  August, the middle son, was born in 1867.  Three other boys followed in succession:   William H., born in 1871; Gustav H., born in 1874; and Carl, born in 1878.  August and his three younger brothers would remain on the farm as typical farm boys, so it is not surprising that they were ingeniously inclined toward making farm work more mechanical and less labor-intensive.  August, however, showed more than just the usual amount of talent for practical farm mechanics.

In 1882, at the tender age of 15 years, August Rosenthal began experimenting with the idea of husking corn by machine.  His first machine, however, was crude and unsuccessful, but he continued to experiment.  In 1888, Carl Ludwig died, leaving Dora and her sons to fend for themselves on the farm.  It was a discouraging time, but August refused to give up on his idea despite the increased responsibilities he and his brothers now faced running the farm.  In 1889, after seven years of work, August was able to test a new, large machine that was operated by a horse walking in a circle around the machine pulling a sweep.  By this time, the entire Rosenthal family was actively involved in August’s new invention–particularly, his younger brothers Gustav H., William H. and Carl.  Using “Prince,” one of the family’s work horses, the family hitched Prince to the pole on the sweep and said “giddap.”  Prince then began moving in a circular path around the machine, pulling the pole which turned the gears of the drive mechanism located above the machine, thus powering the machine via a chain that connected the drive mechanism with the new husking machine.  With the machine running, August began feeding corn stalks into the machine.  Before long, a steady stream of ears of corn began sliding down the hopper of the machine into a waiting bushel basket.  Meanwhile, the corn stalk was discarded intact on the ground behind the machine.  The machine was a success.  Next, August set to work designing and building a second husking machine which incorporated chopping or shredding of the corn stalk into little pieces.  This new machine, however, turned to the internal combustion engine for its power, rather than the horse, and the shredded stalk material (called “stover”) was elevated to a nearby wagon where it could be taken to storage.  Over the next few years, several more improvements were made to the husking machine, and, in 1894, the Cyclone Model No. 1 corn husker shredder was introduced which incorporated all of these improvements.  The Cyclone Model No. 1 was constructed with a combination of two snapping and husking rollers which removed the ears from the stalk.  They also removed a great deal of the husks from the ears before dropping the ears into a bushel basket. In addition, the Cyclone Model No. 1 was outfitted with a blower which would gather the shredded stalks and blow them through a large pipe into a nearby barn or shed.  Thus, the modern corn husker-shredder was born.  On March 5, 1895, the Cyclone Model No. 1 was patented by the Rosenthal family.  Continue reading The Rosenthal Corn Husker Company (Part I)

The Anthony Company of Streator, Illinois

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Wagons and Truck Bodies:

The History of the Anthony Company of Streator, Illinois

by

Brian Wayne Wells

As published in the July/August 1995 issue of

Belt Pulley Magazine

Restored Anthony wagon box on a home-made wagon gear ready to go to the field
The restored Anthony wagon box on a home-made gear is ready to go to the field.

Just as necessity is the mother of invention, so too necessity gives birth to a lot of restoration projects.  At the 1994 LeSueur Pioneer Power Show, my father Wayne Wells, brother Mark Wells, and I took on the assignment of operating the Paul Meyer/Wallace Bauleke 22″ McCormick-Deering thresher as a field demonstration on the Pioneer Power grounds near rural LeSueur, Minnesota.  (The Paul Meyer/Wallace Bauleke thresher was the subject of the story “History of a Thresher” contained in the May/June 1994 Belt Pulley, Vol. 7, No. 3, p. 19.)  Only my father had previous experience with setting up, leveling, belting and operating a thresher.  Nonetheless, with the help of other members of the Pioneer Power Association, including Doug Hager, Bill Radill, Jimmy Brandt and Dave Preuhs, we got the thresher correctly belted and running.  During the Show, the thresher proved to be a smooth-running and efficient thresher.

There was, however, one big problem we faced at the Show:  there was a definite shortage of grain wagons for all of the threshers that were running.  We could not use the modern-style gravity flow grain boxes because they were too tall to fit under the grain elevators of the old threshers.  Furthermore, the use of modern equipment around old threshers detracted from pictures that we all wanted to take during the Show.  The only answer was to find an old grain-box wagon and restore it for use at the Show during the field demonstrations.

Thus, in the late fall of 1994, Wayne Wells attended the Fahey Auction at Belle Plaine, Minnesota.  This auction, which is held several times a year, has become a regular event for old machinery buffs of the area.  At the auction, Wayne Wells found and purchased a nondescript, but heavy-duty, all-steel, flare-type wagon box without a running gear.

EPSON MFP image
The Anthony wagon box purchased by Wayne Wells is brought to the grounds of the Pioneer Power Association transported on a hay rack.

Closer inspection of the box revealed the name Anthony stamped into the rear panel of the wagon just above the tail gate.  Following the auction, Wayne Wells transported the Anthony wagon box to the grounds of the LeSueur County Pioneer Power Association aboard a hay rack.  On the grounds the Anthony wagon was stored under a shelter located on the grounds through the winter of 1994-1995.  Restoration of the Anthony wagon box began the following spring of 1995.

EPSON MFP image
Wayne A. Wells inspects the Anthony wagon box after its arrival on the grounds of the Pioneer Power Association in the winter of 1994-1995..

(An Anthony flare-type wagon box identical to the Wayne Wells wagon box is pictured in the beautiful cover photo of the March/April 1995 issue of Belt Pulley magazine being towed by an Oliver 77 and an Oliver Model 2 Corn Master corn picker.)  We knew very little about the Anthony wagon, and since we wanted to restore the wagon box and paint it the proper color, we had to do some research into the Anthony Company.

A 1949 Oliver Promotional Picture of the Field Research Crew picking corn with an Anthony wagon attached to the picker
A promotional photo showing the Oliver field research crew working with a Model 2 corn picker being powered by an Oliver Model 77 tractor, picking corn in the bumper crop of corn in the autumn of 1949. The wagon being towed by the corn picker is however, an Anthony wagon. The Oliver Company had yet to partner with the Electric Wheel Company of Quincy, Illinois, for the joint manufacture of the “Oliver-Electric” wheel gear and wagon boxes.

 

The Anthony Company was founded in 1917 by William Anthony, Paul Heflin and Mark Anthony, primarily for purposes of building truck bodies and hoists for trucks.  Initial capital for the Company was supplied by the founders and by means of a small loan from the Union National Bank of Streator, Illinois.  They began production of dump truck bodies at the factory of the L.P. Halladay Company located on Hickory Street in the city limits of Streator, Illinois.

An Aerial view of the Anthony Company factory in Streator, Illinois taken inb the 1940s. This shows the railroad connection with the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad.

Their product line positioned the Anthony Company to take full advantage of the strong demand for heavy equipment required for the building and repairing of roads and highways in the 1920s.  The Company grew rapidly and soon was serving markets in Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, South America, the British Isles, and Australia.  The Anthony Company quickly outgrew its facility on Hickory Street, and in 1920 they moved their operations to another location on the north end of Baker Street.  This 12.2-acre complex on Baker Street was conveniently adjacent to the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad.

Inside the machine shop at the Anthony Company factory at Streator, Illinois
The roomy new machine shop at the Baker Street facility purchased by the Anthony Company of Streator, Illinois. This factory would later become known as rthe Anthony Company’s Plant #1.

 

The new location allowed the Company to grow and to become a leader in the nation in the production of truck bodies.  The Anthony Company was fortunate in having an extremely talented and dedicated work force.  Ralph Burt, Cecil Worrels, Gene Dapogny and Carl Bole all served as sales managers over the years.  Mark Anthony, son of company founder William Anthony, served as head of the export department.

William Anthony, the founder of the Anthony Company in Streater, Illinois.

Over the years Joseph Barrett served as general manager, John Lyons served as treasurer of the Company, and Ned Whitson and later Robert Hamilton served as plant managers.  Richard Fuller was superintendent of commercial products, James Wallif was superintendent of military products, and Ronald Durham headed the print department.  Herbert Dakin and later Lyle Mustered served as head of the Engineering Department.  Patrick McClernon was contract administrator, William Borglin was manager of the costs department, Carl Tapley was purchasing agent, Leroy Whyowski was director of quality control, and Larry Torres was production control manager.  Later, William Hall served as the head of a ten-person computer department at the company.  An article in the June 24, 1968, Streator Times-Press reported that in 1968, 81-year-old Paul Heflin was still reporting to work at the Anthony Company to perform his duties as secretary of the corporation.

Inside the main part of the Anthony Company factory at Streator, Illinois in 1947
The Anthony Company depended on the population for Streator, Illinois, for a loyal, steady, reliable and talented work force.

 

Herbert Dakin was another long-term employee of the Anthony Company.  Working as the head designer for the engineering department, he designed the famous telescoping-style of hydraulic hoists for dump trucks.  Development of the telescoping hoist effected a revolution in the trucking business.  (Although Herbert Dakin died in 1975 at the age of 86, his granddaughter, Leslie Poldek, continues to keep memories of the Anthony Company alive as librarian of the Streator Public Library.)  In the early 1940s, Frank Novotney, sales manager for the Anthony Company, designed the first hydraulic lift gate.  Lift gates were folding platforms which fitted to the rear ends of trucks.  These platforms would hydraulically raise and lower from street level to the level of the bed on the truck.  This would allow the driver of the truck, unassisted, to load and unload very heavy equipment.  The lift gate became one of the Company’s most popular products.

Anthony Company Plant in Streeter Illinois
The Anthony Company Plant located in Streator, Illinois in 1963.

Like other companies during World War II, the Anthony Company was restricted to the manufacture of only those products which were needed for the war effort.  The United States Government, however, contracted with the Anthony Company for the production of all kinds of truck bodies for the United States Armed Forces.  One of their largest contracts called for them to produce dump truck bodies for the building of the Alaskan Highway project.  During this contract, the work force broke all known production records for the manufacture of the largest single fleet of heavy duty dump truck bodies.  The Company and its work force was awarded the Army-Navy “E” (Excellence) award for the manufacture of wartime materials.

The Anthony Company of Streator Illinois faced layoffs and cut backs until the Marshall Plan was announced in June of 1947
As the Second World War ended the Anthony Company faced layoffs and cutbacks as they faced the sudden end of military war contracts and a difficult transition to a peacetime economy.

In 1945, just as the Second World War was ending, amid rejoicing that the “boys would soon be coming home,” there was a feeling of uncertainty about the future.  This feeling was based on clear memories of the end of the First World War which had caused a sudden 15% inflationary spike in prices followed by a recession in the spring of 1920.  (Grieder, William, Secrets of the Temple: How the Federal Reserve Runs the Country [Simon and Schuster: New York, NY, 1987], pp. 289-290.)  Typically, at the conclusion of a war, businesses were forced to find other markets for their goods or to re-tool for the manufacture of new products more fitted to peacetime economy.  All too often businesses could not adjust to the new economic conditions, thus throwing their workers into unemployment.

In 1945, this fear was a sour note sounded amidst the celebration!  Several small companies, which had been forced by the War Production Board to produce only products for the war effort, now found their situation desperate as they scrambled to find a niche in the civilian peacetime economy.  One of those companies was the Anthony Company of Streator, Illinois.  Indeed, the atmosphere at the Anthony Company was gloomy as they faced the return to peacetime economy.  There was no current large peacetime demand for truck bodies, nor was there any foreseeable circumstances that offered any hope of a large demand for truck bodies in the future.

The post-war era caused some anxiety among the workforce of the Anthony Company until the Marshakll Plan was announced in ajune of 1947
Fear of the post-war economy and the suden loss of government contracts created anxiety among the workforce of the Anthony Company in 1946.

 

However, on June 5, 1947, Secretary of State George C. Marshall gave the commencement address at Harvard University.  The speech was used as an opportunity to announce a new Truman Administration proposal for United States aid to be sent to Europe to assist post-war recovery.  (David McCullough, Truman, [Simon and Schuster: New York, NY 1992], pp. 562-563.)  This program, eventually to be called the Marshall Plan, envisioned a mobilization of the whole productive capacity of United States agriculture to fend off starvation in Europe and to help get the European economy moving again.

Dump truck bodies were a second early success for the Anthony Company in the post-war era.

Continue reading The Anthony Company of Streator, Illinois

The 1941 Farmall Model B

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The Farmall B:

Second Tractor on the Farm, But First in the Heart 

by

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.

img269
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