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-purp...
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 released in 1932. From 1932 to 1939, International Harvester manufactured 148,960 F-20s, a record at the time. These lines were followed by the letter series (A, B, C, H, and M, designed by Raymond Loewy) and then the hundred series.
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.
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Big wheels keep on turningCleburne Times-Review, May 20th
Now he's the vice president of the Heart of Texas club and proud owner of several old International Harvester tractors, including an unrestored 1953 Farmall with a factory-installed propane-burning engine. Newton is on Texas Wesleyan University's...Read more
Photos: Tractor enthusiasts ready to runYakima Herald-Republic (press release), May 19th
Drivers sometimes stand (there are no padded seats on these old tractors) and a modern-day pickup tows a “slow tractors ahead” sign to warn motorists. The oldest tractor on a recent run to Zillah was built in 1939 — a McCormick Farmall. The newest was...Read more
My space: Roger Platts, horticulturalistTelegraph.co.uk, May 17th
Mug with a tractor design. I collect vintage tractors. The oldest is a 1944 Standard Fordson, and my favourite is a 1946 Monster Tractor. I also have an old Farmall M from 1952, which is exactly the same as my father used to have. Roger Platts is...Read more
Midlander runs feed store for decades, still on rodeo circuitMidland Reporter-Telegram, May 14th
By 1943, he was farming with a two-row "Poppin' Johnny" tractor instead of mules and later switched to a Farmall tractor. In the feed business, Elmo Birkhead built a reputation of being "fair and honest with people," the son said. Meanwhile, "I enjoyed...Read more
Horse plowing at Rohrer Farm is a spring traditionFarm and Dairy, May 13th
Don Miller, a World War II veteran from Wooster, said his family farmed with horses until the war, then bought a Farmall M. They farmed near Norton, and increased to a three-bottom plow once they bought the tractor...Read more
Restoring 1946 tractor a nostalgic projectYuma Sun, May 11th
Marks said his stepfather gave him the 1946 Farmall H-model tractor two years ago because he originally wanted to restore it to its former glory as a personal project, but later decided to do it for a Future Farmers of America project instead. “It was...Read more
The reds and the greens will combine at annual tractor eventSacramento Bee, May 10th
Bill Son, left, of Sacramento stands beside his 1953 Farmall tractor, with its signature International Harvester red color, while colleague Bob Hinds of Rio Linda shows off his 1946 John Deere tractor, in Deere's distinctive green, at the Dry Creek...Read more
Tractor show harvests funds for food bank, RelaySampson Independent, April 29th
“I've got a little tractor love here,” said Cadigan, looking down at her son Thomas. “His grandpa has got a Farmall tractor so we had to come see if they have one here like grandpa's and they do. There's not much here they don't have and some are so big...Read more