Under the leadership of Cyrus McCormick and Charles Deering, the International Harvester Company was born from a merger between the McCormick Harvesting Machinery Company, Deering Harvester, and a few other companies in August 1902. In the coming decades, International Harvester began to compete with the Ford Motor Company in the tractor market.

In the 1910s and early ’20s, Bert Benjamin—one of International Harvester’s designers—began sizing up the competition and evaluating the weaknesses of Ford’s Fordson tractor. For one, the Fordson was too low to the ground, which prevented farmers from using it with corn and cotton after the crops were planted. Ford’s tractor was also difficult to maneuver.

With these flaws in mind, Benjamin designed International Harvester’s Farmall tractor, which was authorized for production in February 1924. The Farmall was a small, general-purpose tractor—the first of its kind to be successful.

Unlike Ford’s models, it had a high axle clearance. In an innovative twist, the Farmall had a tricycle-like design—two big wheels in the back and two small wheels right next to each other in the front. The Farmall also had automatic brakes on both back wheels, which could be operated separately. This feature, combined with the tricycle design, made the Farmall extremely maneuverable.

The Farmall also had a four-cylinder engine, with nine to 18 horsepower at 12000 rpm; the transmission had three speeds forward and one speed backward. The Farmall’s relatively small size made it effective for farmers with smaller farms. And from a stylistic standpoint, the Farmall was the first tractor to be produced in red, leading the transition away from what collectors today call the gray “unstyled tractors” of previous years.

To promote its product, International Harvester held competitions between the Farmall and the Fordson, which Farmall almost always won. In 1928, Ford threw in the towel and left International Harvester to dominate the tractor business.

Over the next several years, International Harvester released more models in its Farmall line. The original Farmall became the Farmall Regular, and the F-30 and F-20 were release...

Even as the Farmall line expanded, International Harvester produced accessories that were cross-compatible with all the Farmall models. One particularly handy accessory that helped the line gain and maintain popularity was the Quick Attach, a rapid-mounting system that allowed the farmer to quickly and easily adapt his tractor for a variety of purposes, like mowing a golf course.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Steel Wheels

Steel Wheels

David Parfitt's excellent and comprehensive tribute to pre-1930s tractors. The well-posed, high resolution photos i… [read review or visit site]

McCormick International Harvester Collection

McCormick International Harvester Collection

Farm and tractor collectors will appreciate this incredible trove of 30,000 images and documents on the Internation… [read review or visit site]



This antique tractor and farm machinery site is a great resource for researching brands like Deere, International H… [read review or visit site]



A great reference and community forum on antique tractors. Start with the 39-page master photo list, showing thousa… [read review or visit site]

Discussion Forums

Other Great Reference Sites

Recent News: Farmall Tractors

Source: Google News

Pataskala Power Show a success
The Newark Advocate, September 30th

Judy Cruikshank brought her father's 1944 McCormick Farmall tractor to the show. The couple also brought a hit-and-miss engine. “It's always been a great power show,” Jack Cruikshank said. “It's a nice place to relax for the weekend and show your...Read more

No. 49: Modern tractor with GPS
Mason City Globe Gazette, September 26th

At the center of it all in recent years is the modern tractor with a GPS system. GPS systems first started to appear in tractors and combines in the 1990s and have become the norm in the last decade. Such systems allow farmers a variety of tools...Read more

Hammons family enjoys day riding antique Farmalls
Fremont Tribune, September 23rd

Although Maurice, 88, lives in Plattsmouth now, he still owns five acres of the farm and the Farmall F-20. His son, Keith Hammons, lives on the acreage, and they keep Maurice's tractor collection there. The first tractor Maurice restored, of course...Read more

Brush Valley club members promote interest in antique tractors
Tribune-Review, September 21st

Jim Mintmier of Armagh brought his 1955 Farmall 200 tractor to show at the Brush Valley event. “It's the smallest row crop tractor that Farmall ever made,” he explained, noting it's rated at about 22 horsepower and can handle chores ranging from mowing...Read more

Tractor show debuts in Dayton this weekend
Tribune-Review, September 17th

Bish said his 17-year-old son Scott has spent the last two years fixing a red 1947 Farmall Model M tractor. He's had the tractor torn up and has been reassembling it. It won't be up and running in time for this weekend, but with his interest in old...Read more

Terryville teen collects, restores antique tractors
Bristol Press, September 14th

PLYMOUTH — Kyle Brenner was 11 when he bought his first tractor. It was a 1950 McCormick Farmall M that a neighbor had for sale. Kyle went halves with his father Mark Brenner to come up with the $2,300 and together they completely restored it in their ...Read more

Restoration project helps New Richland teen heal
Southernminn.com, September 9th

Flies buzzed around Dylan Johnson's rusty old Farmall tractor as the wind swept the tall grass against the flat tires. The stagnant machine soon lit a spark of memories as a New Richland teen's project to rebuild his friend's old tractor not only...Read more

S.C.R.A.P. celebrates antique tractors, engines
Port Clinton News Herald, August 31st

GIBSONBURG – George Miller Jr. took his family's 1941 McCormick Farmall tractor out for a spin Sunday, as he and several other competitors brought their antique tractors and engines to the annual Sandusky County Restorers of Antique Power's show at ...Read more