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]

Antiquefarming.com

Antiquefarming.com

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

AntiqueTractors.com

AntiqueTractors.com

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

Restoring old tractors is rewarding, but costly
Farm and Dairy, November 19th

I don't claim to be “restoring” a tractor, as to me that means making it exactly as it was when new, an almost impossible undertaking unless one has unlimited funds. That said, I'm in the process of “refurbishing” a 1941 Farmall BN that I've owned for...Read more

Farm history exhibit opens
Erwin Record, November 14th

“While this specific tractor is not originally from the county, it serves as an excellent example of what would have been used during that time.” The McCormick Farmall Cub tractor was one of the most widely-used tractors starting in the late 1940s...Read more

Dozens of farm 'toys' draw hundreds of the Q-C
Quad City Times, November 8th

“The green (Deere) people really come out, but this year we have more red tractors (IH and Farmall) than we've ever had before.” Paul Olson drove 250 miles from Webster City, Iowa, to bid, but he also restores tractors, having sold one to Mecum at a...Read more

Trailer may have struck tractor
Le Mars Daily Sentinel, November 3rd

LE MARS -- New information has been released about a hit-and-run accident that injured a rural Le Mars man Oct. 15. Mark Schroeder, 76, was driving a Farmall B tractor north in the 2100 block of K-64 at the time of the accident. An unidentified...Read more

Tractors remain family tradition
Yadkin Ripple, October 21st

This year, the Glory Days show drew out-of-towners, raised money for Mountain Valley Hospice and featured antique tractor and lawnmower pulls and old engines. The event has been so successful, they already have begun planning for next year, they said...Read more

Case IH introduces Farmall tractor lineup
Dairy Herd Management, October 17th

Farmall U Series (90 to 98 power takeoff (PTO) hp) heavy-duty, premium utility tractors with high-capacity hydraulics to handle any application. Farmall C Series (65 to 98 PTO hp) and Farmall Compact C Series (32 to 47 gross hp) is a new line of Tier 4 ...Read more

Iowan's stolen Farmall 1206 tractor recovered in Minnesota
DesMoinesRegister.com, May 14th

Tractor guru Randy Hinton, who now owns and operates 10 Red Power Case IH dealerships across northern Iowa, was robbed of his prized tractor, a 1965 International Harvester Farmall 1206 that was the 11th to roll off the assembly line. Hinton offered a ...Read more

Tractor guru seeks 'yahoo' who stole rare Farmall 1206
DesMoinesRegister.com, March 29th

But it's a single, 50-year-old tractor that has weighed heavily on Hinton's mind in recent weeks. The crown jewel of his fleet, a meticulously restored 1965 International Harvester Farmall 1206, was stolen from a warehouse in Mason City. It would be an ...Read more