As published in the January/February 2000 issue of
Belt Pulley Magazine
In the second article on David Bradley farm machinery, two of the most popular and recognizable products were discussed–the farm wagon and the garden tractor. However, the David Bradley line, as advertised in the Spring and Fall issues of the Sears and Roebuck catalogue every year, included tractor loaders, field tillage equipment, and even harvesting equipment such as its one-row, semi-mounted corn picker. This installment will feature two lesser known, but still popular, items–the tractor plow and the manure spreader.
As pointed out in the first article, the David Bradley Company began its plow production with the famous horse-drawn Clipper plow. With the dawn of the tractor era, however, David Bradley introduced tractor-drawn plows. In the Spring 1936 Sears catalogue, a 2-bottom plow with 12″ bottoms was advertised for $69.95, another 2-bottom plow with 14″ bottoms for $71.85, and a 3-bottom plow with 14″ bottoms for $105.00. These steel-wheeled plows were painted David Bradley red with lime-green wheels to match the rest of the David Bradley line of farm machinery.
During the 1930s, Ned Healy placed an order for a particular David Bradley 2-bottom plow; consequently, a steel-wheeled David Bradley 2-bottom plow with 14-inch bottoms was delivered to the Sears store in Mankato, Minnesota, the county seat of Blue Earth County. Ned Healy, who operated a farm south of Mapleton, Minnesota, farmed with a Graham-Bradley 32-hp tractor and, later, a Massey-Harris 101. Both of these tractors had very fast road speeds for their time (19.8 mph. and 17.85 mph., respectively). (C.H. Wendel, Nebraska Tractor Tests [Crestline Publishing Company: Sarasota, FL 1985] pp. 110 and 137.) Ned not only farmed his own farm, he also helped his brother, Horace Healy, on another farm just down the road. Both the Graham and the Massey Harris tractors, with their rubber tires and very fast road speeds, were well-suited for the Healy farming operation which involved frequent transfers of machinery from farm to farm. Consequently, when the new David-Bradley plow arrived on the Ned Healy farm, its distinctive green colored steel wheels were soon cut down to be fitted with rims for rubber tires.
In the same Mapleton, Minnesota, neighborhood lived the Howard Hanks family. As noted in a previous article, the Hanks family once rented the John T. Goff farm also just south of Mapleton, Minnesota. (“The Family’s First Tractor,” Antique Power, May/June 1994, Vol. 6, No. 4, pp. 22-24.) Now, in early 1944, the Hanks family began negotiations to purchase a farm of their own in Beaver township, Fillmore County, near LeRoy, Minnesota. This 400-acre farm was owned by Albert E. Rehwaldt of Good Thunder, Minnesota, but had always been known as the Bagan farm. Included in the terms of the purchase was a 1942 Farmall H accompanied by a 2-row cultivator. This would be the Hanks family’s first row crop tractor. (See “The Wartime Farmall H,” Belt Pulley, July/August 1994, Vol. 7, No. 4, pp. 13-17.) The family was finally to be settling on their own land! Thus, in order to get an early start on the 1945 growing season, they drove the 100 miles to the Bagan farm in the late summer of 1944 to do some fall plowing, bringing with them their 1931 John Deere D and their 3-bottom John Deere No. 82 plow to do this. They also borrowed Ned Healy’s David Bradley plow to pull behind the Farmall H which was already at the Bagan farm. Because the renter of the Bagan farm, Roy Green and his family, was still in the house, the Hanks family camped out in a small chicken brooder house. Nevertheless, during the ten days they were there, the family completed the fall plowing and did some work on the house before they had to return to the Goff farm for the soybean harvest. They left all of the machinery they had brought with them on the Bagan farm until the following spring, when they would return to plant the crop, and went back to the Goff farm with only Ned Healy’s plow aboard the truck. The little David Bradley had performed well during the short time on the Bagan farm and had helped the Hanks family get a jump on the 1945 crop season.
Also during the 1930s, another David Bradley 2-bottom plow was delivered to the Sears store in Austin, Minnesota, the county seat of Mower County, for a customer by the name of Martin Hetletvedt. Martin farmed a 160-acre farm north of the “Old Town” area of LeRoy, Minnesota. (Most of his farm has now been merged into the Lake Louise State Park located in the Old Town area.)
LeRoy was originally settled at the site of a sawmill located next to a dam on the Upper Iowa River. The dam and sawmill were built in 1853. By 1855, a settlement had grown up around the sawmill, and by 1858, the town of LeRoy was platted there. However, as white pine from northern Minnesota became more readily available for building material, the sawing of local hardwoods became unprofitable and the sawmill was converted to a grist mill in 1858. In 1867, when the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad (later the Milwaukee Road) came through the area, it by-passed the settlement of LeRoy, and the railroad station built by the railroad to serve the town was actually located about a mile southeast of LeRoy. Consequently, over the next several years, the people of whole town of LeRoy resettled to the area around the railroad station, and in 1874, LeRoy was incorporated at the new location. Gradually, the settlement around the grist mill declined and the area became known as “Old Town.” The grist mill itself also closed up, as better methods of flour milling were developed.
with 14-inch Bottoms at Work in Nicollet County, Minnesota.
Brian Wayne Wells
as published in the Spring of 1995 issue of the
Hart-Parr Oliver Collectors Magazine
In South Bend, Indiana, among the other industrial plants located there, were the Oliver Corporation’s Plant #1 and Plant #2. Plant #1 had been devoted to the production of the famous Oliver chilled steel-bottom plows since 1853. (See C.H. Wendel, Oliver/Hart-Parr [Motorbooks International: Oseola, Wisconsin, 1992], p. 107.) Since about 1938, Oliver had been manufacturing the 100-Series Plowmaster plows at its South Bend factories. These plows had the patented Raydex bottoms which had been designed by Herman and Rudolph (Rudi) Altgelt, brothers, who were employed as engineers by the Oliver Company from the 1920s through the 1940s. (See “The First Oliver Tractor” on page 18 of the November/December 1990 issue of Antique Power for the story of the Altgelt Brothers.)
Prior to the Second World War, Plowmaster plows were manufactured with steel-wheels. However, after the war, production of the rubber-tire version of the Plowmaster boomed. Oliver 100-Series Plowmaster plows contained a number of unique features. Besides the patented Raydex bottoms and “radius curved” plow shares, the plow had a rack and pinion style mechanical lift (sometimes called a “cock’s comb”), a hand crank style of height adjustment, and an optional clasp hitch with a special rigid clevis which was sold with each plow. This clevis had to be bolted to the drawbar each time before plowing. However, once the rigid clevis was in place on the drawbar, hitching the plow to the tractor was much easier. Detaching the plow was as easy as pressing down on a button on the clasp hitch and driving the tractor forward.
The 100-Series Plowmaster plow was painted red with green wheels, even though the color scheme of the Oliver Fleetline Model 77 and Model 88 tractors introduced in 1948 was green with red wheels. Later, however, the color scheme of the plow was reversed to green with red wheels to match the tractors. Indeed, Bob Tallman, a former Oliver dealer from Tower City, Pennsylvania, from 1946 through 1969, relates that the color scheme of the Oliver 100-Series Plowmaster plows changed three times while he was operating the dealership.
In 1947, a particular 2-bottom 100-Series Plowmaster plow with 14-inch bottoms, the optional caster-type rubber-tired rear trailing wheel, and the optional clasp hitch rolled out of the production department at Plant #1. Before the plow was shipped, however, the plow was “knocked down,” or KD’ed (disassembled), by the shipping department at Plant #1. The plow was then placed in a railroad boxcar together with several other KD’ed plows which had been factory-ordered by various southern Minnesota Oliver dealerships. The plow orders for southern Minnesota had been collected by the Oliver district manager at the Oliver branch house in Minneapolis, Minnesota. These orders were then grouped together in railroad boxcar-sized groups to save shipping expenses. Each railroad boxcar loaded with plows was scheduled to arrive in a centrally located town within different regions of the State of Minnesota. All of the Oliver dealers within each region were informed of the date on which the boxcar would arrive at some central location in their region. Each dealer would then make arrangements to pick up the plows they had ordered.
In this particular case, the boxcar was headed for Mankato, Minnesota, centrally located in the southern region of the state. The train left South Bend, Indiana, on the Penn Central tracks headed to Chicago. At Chicago, the boxcar was transferred to a Chicago and Northwestern train headed north to Minnesota. It then arrived at the Chicago and Northwestern railroad station in Mankato, Minnesota, where it was spotted to await the next day when the plows would be unloaded.
Among the Oliver dealers scheduled to receive a plow was the H.B. Seitzer Implement dealership of St. Peter, Minnesota, ten miles north of Mankato. St. Peter, a town of about 6500 at that time, was the county seat located on the eastern edge of Nicollet County in the colorful Minnesota River valley. Seitzer’s Implement was a family-owned business which had been founded in 1915 as the local Ford car and tractor dealership. In about 1930, they also became the local Allis-Chalmers dealership. At about the same time, they obtained the local franchise of the Oliver Company. This was a convenient combination of franchises because throughout the 1920s Ford and Oliver cooperated to sell Fordson tractors together with Oliver chilled-steel plows. In 1946, the H.B. Seitzer Company was split into two separate entities. The Ford car dealership continued at the same location in the 100 block of South Minnesota Avenue in St. Peter while the Allis-Chalmers and Oliver franchises moved to a building at 311 South Front Street in St. Peter. Both of the companies continued to be known as Seitzer’s. Mark Seitzer, son of H.B. Seitzer, founder of the company, became the operator of the Oliver and Allis-Chalmers dealership.
Mark Seitzer, now retired, noted that the 100-Series Plowmaster plow was a popular product with area farmers. The Oliver plows had a good reputation in the area around St. Peter. Ivan Reddemann, who farms northeast of St. Peter across the Minnesota River in Tyrone Township in LeSueur County, remembers that his father, Edwin Reddemann, found that the Oliver plow was the only plow that would scour easily in the rich black gumbo soil of Nicollet and LeSueur Counties. Edwin Reddemann had previously tried a McCormick-Deering Little Genius 2-bottom 14-inch plow on steel wheels and a Case 2-bottom 16-inch plow on rubber tires behind the Reddemann family’s Farmall H before settling on an Oliver 100-Series Plowmaster 2-bottom 16-inch plow on rubber tires.
To the west of St. Peter, in New Sweden township in Nicollet County, Gerald and Ruby (Quist) Wise farmed a 160-acre farm which had originally been homesteaded by Ruby’s mother’s family (Ostrom) in 1869. In 1947, this farming operation also used an Oliver 2-bottom 100-Series Plowmaster with a 1942 John Deere B. The Wise family also found that the Plowmaster, which had been purchased at Seitzer’s Implement, worked well in the same type of soil on their farm. The Plowmaster plow would continue to be used on the Wise farm through the time that Warren Rodning (who married Marilyn Wise, daughter of Gerald and Ruby Wise) took over the farming operation in 1956. Warren continued to use the Plowmaster plow until he traded the John Deere B and the Plowmaster for the larger and more modern John Deere 630 with a mounted 3-bottom John Deere plow in 1958.
The termination of war-time production quotas, plus the rise in farm commodity prices fueled by the sale of United States foodstuffs in Europe under the Aid to Greece program which was signed into law on May 22, 1947 (Truman, Harry S., Years of Trial and Hope [New American Library, New York, 1956], p. 131) and the tantalizing promise of much wider sales to Europe under the Marshall Plan which was outlined to the public on June 5, 1947 (McCullough, David, Truman [Simon & Schuster, New York, 1950], p. 562) created a large demand for farm machinery in 1947. Because of the demand and the Plowmaster’s good reputation in the St. Peter area, the management at Seitzer’s knew the Plowmaster they had ordered would not be in the dealership warehouse very long before it would be sold.
After being informed by the Minneapolis branch house of the date on which the plows in the boxcar would be unloaded at Mankato, the Seitzer management made arrangements with a local farmer, who had a truck with a grain box, to go to Mankato to pick up the plow.
Expectations of the management at Seitzer’s proved correct. Shortly after the Plowmaster arrived at the dealership, it was sold to Alton and Alice (Miner) Jacobson. At this point, the plow was re-assembled by the employees at Seitzer’s.
Alton and Alice Jacobson farmed 80 acres west of St. Peter in the northeast 1/4 section of Section 27 of Oshawa Township in Nicollet County. This farm had been owned by the Jacobson family ever since it was homesteaded by Alton Jacobson’s grandparents, Hans Carl August Jacobsson and Anna Lisa Pettersdotter Jacobson in 1875. (Alton’s parents, The farm would become a registered “Century Farm” in 1975, which means the farm was owned and operated by the same family for 100 years .)
In 1947, the Jacobson’s and their two sons, Warren and Raymond, were milking cows and raising sheep, hogs, and chickens on their diversified farming operation. They used nearly all of the corn, oats, and hay they raised as feed for their livestock, but they did sell soybeans each year. Although they continued to farm with horses in the post-World War II period, they had purchased a new WC Allis-Chalmers tractor on rubber tires from Seitzer Implement in 1940. It was this tractor that pulled the Plowmaster for most of its productive life on the Jacobson farm.
The Oliver Plowmaster was used on the Jacobson farm until 1985 when Alton Jacobson died. An auction of the farm machinery was held that year. Attending the auction was Fred Netz, who had married Jan Miner, niece of Alton and Alice (Miner) Jacobson. Fred and Jan were both teaching at the elementary school in Nicollet, Minnesota. In addition, they had just bought a 220-acre farm in the same vicinity, keeping a small parcel for the horses they intended to raise and renting the remaining acreage to Fred’s brother.
Fred arrived late to the Alton Jacobson auction because he had been busy that morning purchasing a 1944 Farmall H for use on their new farm. At the conclusion of the auction, he found that with the remaining small amount of property that did not sell was the trusty little Oliver 100-Series Plowmaster plow. The plow was in very good shape and the two 14-inch bottoms were still shiny with their “land polish” which had been carefully varnished with grease. The special clevis that had been purchased with the plow was still connected to the hitch. The auctioneer, however, had been unable to raise a bid on the plow because by 1985 moldboard plowing had fallen out of style in favor of minimum tillage. Furthermore, the 2-bottom plow was much too small for modern farming requirements. Therefore, Fred bought the little plow for a nominal price at the conclusion of the sale as a convenience to the estate and the auctioneer.
Fred took the plow to his new farm. Despite the fact that the 2-bottom plow was outdated on most modern farms, he found that the plow allowed him to get closer to fence rows and ditches than the new larger plows. Because of this capability, he was able to find a niche for the little Plowmaster in his farming operation and also in the modern farming operations of his brother and other area farmers. On occasion, Fred performed some “end-row” plowing in some neighborhood fields; however, this work was infrequent and the plow was used less and less as the years went by. Finally, in 1993, Fred decided to sell both the Farmall H and the Oliver 100-Series Plowmaster plow.
A former Nicollet elementary school principal, Wayne Wells, now of LeSueur, Minnesota, answered his advertisement. Wayne Wells, definitely a Farmall man, was interested in purchasing the Farmall H, but was not interested in the Oliver plow. Fred insisted, however, that the plow be part of the package and so the agreement was made. The tractor and plow were loaded up and transported the short distance to LeSueur, Minnesota.
Mark Wells, of Billerica, Massachusetts, and myself, both sons of Wayne Wells, first saw the little Oliver 2-bottom plow sitting in the backyard of the Wells home in LeSueur, Minnesota, in August of 1993 when we arrived for our annual visit to attend the LeSueur Pioneer Power Show. As usual, plans had been made to do some work on one of the Wells family’s restoration projects for the Show. The primary project for this particular Show was to be the restoration of the pre-war McCormick-Deering Little Genius 2-bottom plow. (The story of this restoration was carried in the September/October 1994 issue of Belt Pulley magazine and is shown in the “second hour” portion of Tape #6 from the International Harvester Promotional Movies Collection.)
During the restoration of the Little Genius, there was plenty of opportunity to compare the Oliver 100-Series Plowmaster plow with the Little Genius side by side. Wayne Wells noted that the angle of the Raydex bottoms on the Oliver plow was reduced such that it appeared the bottom would slide through the ground easier and that the sod could be turned over more gently than on the Little Genius. He thought that this must have been the key to Oliver’s reputation for easy scouring in the rich black gumbo soil in the area.
The 100-Series Plowmaster plow was a heavily decaled plow as opposed to the McCormick-Deering plows. There was a “Plowmaster” decal on the leveling lever, a green and yellow “Oliver” decal on the support beam between the bottoms near the rear of the plow, and then there were the curved “Oliver/Raydex” decals on the backs of the moldboards. (Actually, on this particular plow, only the rear bottom had the “Oliver/Raydex” decal.) The front bottom, unlike the rear bottom, was green and had no decal. It looked as though the front bottom had been replaced sometime during the life of the plow. As we began to examine the plow closely and to hear other members of the LeSueur Pioneer Power Association talk about the plow, the more we began to warm to the idea of restoring the Plowmaster plow. However, we determined that the Oliver plow would be long-term project needing a lot of research, definitely not something that was going to be completed even in 1994.
First there were some mechanical problems that needed to be addressed. The height adjustment crank was rusted tight at one setting. (This is a typical problem for Plowmasters which are stored outdoors. Because the crank is designed such that the top part screws into a lower pipe, the lower-end pipe catches all the rain water running down the upper portion of the adjustment crank.) Also, the correct shade of paint and the making of custom-made decals indicated that much time would pass before the plow was completely restored. Furthermore, the bottoms had lost their shiny “land polish” due to a lack of use and it would take time in the field to get the land polish back.
At the August 1993 Threshing Show of the LeSueur Pioneer Power Association, the plow was used to plow a few rounds. (These first few rounds performed by the as-yet unpainted Plowmaster, pulled by the Wells family’s 1953 Super M, can be seen in the second hour portion of Tape #8 available from International Harvester Promotional Movies.) This work did wonders for the little 100-Series Plowmaster plow. After one round, the height adjustment crank had broken loose to allow partial height adjustment. After a couple more rounds, full range of motion had returned to the height adjustment crank. Furthermore, the land polish on the bottoms started coming back. At the conclusion of the 1993 Show, the bottoms on the 100-Series Plowmaster plow were varnished with grease and the plow was stored away under a shelter for the winter.
Upon returning to West Virginia, I began to research the 100-Series Plowmaster plow and found that support services for the Oliver plow were very far advanced. Usually reprints for implements are rare and we have to rely on Swap Meets to find an original implement parts manual or operator’s manual. However, I was pleased to discover that an Operator’s Manual for the 100-Series Plowmaster plow was available from McMillian’s Oliver Collectibles, Dept. B, 9176 U.S. Route 36, Bradford, Ohio 45308, Telephone: (513) 448-2216. Contacting Kurt Aumann, Editor of Belt Pulley magazine and a member of the Hart-Parr/Oliver Collectors Association, I was put in touch with Lynn Polesch, 926 Watson St., Ripon, Wisconsin 54971-1761, Telephone: (414) 748-2366 or (414) 748-3996.
Lynn Polesch had just restored an identical 100-Series Plowmaster plow and had made all of the necessary decals. He had the two-color “Oliver” decal, the “Plowmaster” decals, and the special curved “Oliver/Raydex” decals for the back of the plow bottoms. He even had the three U.S. Patent numbers which are mounted on the back of the plow bottoms under the curved “Oliver/Raydex” decal and above the plowshare. Lynn Polesch had made a set of these decals for a friend of his and was willing to sell me a set also. We have not always found implement decals so readily available. Indeed, Lynn Polesch is attempting to develop a proper copy of the “McCormick-Deering/ Little Genius No. 8” decal so that restoration of our Little Genius plows may be completed. Although two different toy models of this plow are currently available from Ertl with the proper decals on them, there is as yet no source for a decal for the full-sized Little Genius plow.
Using C.H. Wendel’s Notebook, the author found that the proper Oliver green paint was Martin-Senour 99L-8746 and the proper red paint for the Oliver tractor wheels was Martin Senour 99N-3752. These paints can be found at any NAPA store by supplying them with the Martin-Senour numbers. Although, the Oliver red noted above is the paint recommended for the tractor wheels, I was informed that the red used on the plows made at the South Bend plant may have been slightly different from the red used on the tractor wheels manufactured at the Charles City, Iowa, Oliver tractor plant. Although this difference is very small, the exact shade for implements is easily obtained by using True Value “Tractor Red” paint which is very inexpensive and available at any True Value hardware store.
The gathering of this information proceeded much more rapidly than the author had anticipated and we began to have expectations that the 100-Series Plowmaster plow could be completed by the time of the 1994 LeSueur Pioneer Power Show. We ordered the decals and had them sent to LeSueur, Minnesota. Once again, Mark and I gathered at our parents’ home in LeSueur prior to the show to work on the restoration projects. This time the Oliver plow was at the top of the list, together with another McCormick-Deering Little Genius (this one a 2-bottom plow of the post-war variety). Cleaning, wire brushing, and priming of the Oliver plow went as planned. We obtained paints from the local NAPA store and the local True Value building supply store, and the painting and decaling were completed without difficulty. The tires on the plow looked to be original equipment, and although they were worn, they appeared to be good tires. In other words, the restoration of the Oliver plow was a dream. (This is the way that all restorations should proceed–without difficulties or unexpected problems.) The plow was finished ahead of schedule and was very flashy in appearance with the extensive number of decals. However, the plow needed to do more than just look good, it needed to perform. It needed to be worked in the fields to further polish the bottoms and to bring back the land finish to the surface of the bottoms. Accordingly, the plow was hooked up to the 1944 Farmall H and taken on a few rounds. The little plow won much praise at the 1994 Pioneer Power Threshing Show.
Only one problem regarding the Oliver plow arose at the 1994 Show: what tractor would we use to tow the Plowmaster in the parade held each day of the Threshing Show? The plow looked somewhat like an orphan among the many Wells family Farmalls. Despite the fact that the plow had never in its entire life been coupled with an Oliver tractor, it looked incomplete being towed by any tractor other than an Oliver tractor–preferably an Oliver 77 which would be an exact match for the 100-Series Plowmaster plow. (Miles Zimmerman was quick to suggest to the author that the Cletrac HG would also be an exact match for the 100-Series Plowmaster plow!) As a partial solution to this problem, it was towed behind a 1930 Model A (22-40) Oliver/Hart-Parr tractor owned by Dave Preuhs of LeCenter, Minnesota. Although this tractor was a predecessor of the Fleetline Oliver tractor, the Model A Oliver/Hart-Parr was seventeen years older than the 100-Series Plowmaster plow and was not an exact match.
From the author: the Plowmaster still appears to be an orphan waiting for a post-1947 Fleetline Oliver tractor. Recent developments, however, suggest that this wait may be over sometime in the foreseeable future. In the summer of 1994, the Wells family obtained a “family heirloom”–a 1938 F-20 which had belonged to the late Robert Westfall, brother-in-law of Wayne Wells. Robert Westfall had farmed with this tractor until 1978 when it was abandoned in the grove on their farm near Dexter, Minnesota. While work on this “family heirloom” F-20 tractor continues, Wells family members are already casting an eager eye toward another tractor which is still in use on the Westfall farm–a 1954 Oliver 77 tractor bearing the Serial Number 451745. As Kurt Aumann has said to the author on many occasions: “Wait until you start hearing the smooth sound of that six-cylinder engine on a regular basis. Those Farmalls may have some company.”
Not long after this article was published in the Spring of 1995 issue of the Hart-Parr Oliver Collectors magazine, the 1954 Oliver Model 77 tractor bearing the serial Number 4501745 was purchased by the Wells family from Lorraine Wesfall family.
The Robert Westfall family had been renting the Olson farm west of Dexter,Minnesota since March of 1959. However, in March of 1968, the family purchased another farm in the Dexter neighborhood. In December of 1968 to Robert Westfall purchased No. 4501745 complete with a Farmhand tractor-mounted loader with a snow bucket for use in the coming winter for snow removal on the farm. No. 4501745 continued to be used on the Robert and Lorraine Westfall farming operation until Robert passed away on January 13, 1992. Since Lorraine rented out the acreage, she sold the most of the farm machinery on the farm. However, since she intended to continue living on the farm, she kept No. 4501745 on the farm for her adult children to use for snow removal on the farm. In 1996 she sold No. 4501745 to the Wells family. In August of 1996, Mark Wells, brother of the current author, contracted with David Preuhs of LeSueur, Minnesota to take his pickup and trailer from LeSueur, Minnesota to the Westfall farm in near Dexter, Minnesota to pickup the Oliver tractor and bring it back to LeSueur Pioneer Power.
No. 4501745 was taken to LeSueur and eventually taken out to the Kyle Lieske farm in rural Henderson, Minnesota for mechanical work. Kyle Lieske worked on the Oliver tractor over the winter of 2008-2009.
Later in the Spring of 2009, with the mechanical overhaul of the engine complete No. 4501745 was ready to be painted. Loaded up onto the current author’s new trailer, the tractor brought to West Virginia by the current author and his wife, Sally Robinson Wells.
In the Spring of 2009, Jake Lovejoy of Red House, Virginia prepared the tractor for painting later in the Spring.
Over the entire preparation period, a careful review of the tractor was made to determine what other features should be added to the tractor to complete the restoration of the tractor. Originally, all Fleet Line Oliver tractors had been equipped with a offset “football shaped” muffler which was fitted under the hood of the tractor. Because of the offset design of this muffler, the inlet of the muffler from the manifold was not inline with the outlet of the muffler leading through the hood of the tractor. As a result, the opening of the manifold and hole in the hood for the exhaust pipe did not line up. Consequently, when the tractor needed an new muffler the farmer/owner would have to buy the special offset football-shaped muffler. To avoid this, some Fleet Line tractor owners would simply cut another hold in the hood directly over manifold outlet and then install a straight muffler as on other brands of tractor. Sometimes farmer/owners of the Fleet Line series tractors would spent the money to have the offset hole in the hood covered by a sheet metal patch soldered into place. This had been done to No. 4501745. (Note the pictures above of the tractor while still on the farm of Kyle Lieske to see the straight muffler on the tractor.)
For the convenience of restorers of the kit to reverse the holes cut in the hood of the tractor is available, as are exact reproductions of the offset football-shaped muffler and the original exhaust pipe which protrudes through the hood to the proper height and includes a raincap.
A second consideration had to be given to whether a belt pulley should be added to No. 4501745. The tractor had never been fitted with the belt pulley or even the belt pulley drive which had to be fitted the power train of the tractor. Unlike the power take-off shaft on the tractor which was operated by “live-power” independent of the drive train, the belt pulley was directly connected to the power train and the clutch of the tractor.
With its Forest Green color, yellow grille and lettering and red wheels and red “chin strap” under the grille, the Fleet Line series of Oliver tractors remains the most complicated and colorful of all tractors produced in the Uniited States. During June of 2009 No. 4501745 underwent its complicated paint job done by
vejoy of Red House, West Virginia.
Considered as a whole, the story of the Alton Jacobson 100 Series plow is quite a spectacular story. The entire history of the plow from its sale as a new plow to Alton Jacobson to its current status as being matched to the Westfall Oliver Model 77, means that the plow that has the most complete and dramatic history of any equipment in the Wells family collection has been matched to the most colorful easiest starting and smoothest running of all the tractors in the Wells family collection. The plow compliments the tractor on the basis of the plow’s history on a Century Farm in Nicollet County and the tractor compliments the plow based on its colorfully and beautifully restored paint job and its easy starting and smooth running and its ease of operation.
and r f from tr Defrom drove his trailer and and she sold the Olver Row Crop to Mark Wells. Wesvat this The Oliver continued to be used on the farm for u r Retired from farming in tithe Model and Fa;;l V s ;V. The the
A two-bottom McCormick-Deering Little Genius Plow with 14-inch Bottoms
Brian Wayne Wells
As published in the September/October 1994 issue of
Belt Pulley Magazine
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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 Power. Red 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 VanSickleInterntional 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 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.
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.
Belt Pulley Magazine Articles by Brian Wayne Wells