5 Favorites Tractors

1 Farmall Cub
The Cub's compact size and low price--about $545 when it was introduced in 1947--made it popular on small farms and as a second tractor. IH built more than 200,000 of the versatile 10-horsepower tractors during an 18-year production run.

Farmall CubThis 1949 Cub sat near the swamp edge on my dad's farm from the late 1950s until the '70s, when my grandpa quit farming with horses and he and my dad got the old tractor running. Grandpa used it on his farm until the early '80s, when he moved to town.      
In 1990 the Cub was sandblasted and repainted, making it look almost as good as new again. My dad still uses it with an attached mower to cut hay every summer on his small hobby farm. Many people have asked if this cute little tractor is for sale, but Dad says he's going to leave it to his youngest grandson.


2. Case VAC
Case introduced the 19-horsepower VA series in 1942, and built 150,000 through 1955, when the price was $1,580. These were the first Case tractors to use the three-point Eagle Hitch, which debuted in 1949. The VAC was the tricycle row crop version.

Case VACAfter restoring my first tractor, a 1945 Case DI, with the help of my father, James Crabtree Jr., I was given this '46 Case VAC so I could use my new skills. Dad said he was proud of my hard work. We fixed the clutch, put new oil seals on and reground the valves, but most of our work was on the body. All the labor of sandblasting and banging out the dents was well worth it. I'm thankful for the time my dad spent teaching me this valuable trade.


3 Massey-Harris 44
The 40-horsepower Model 44 was a top seller for Massey-Harris, which built 84,000 of them from 1947 to 1953 in Racine, Wisconsin. From '53 to '55 the company made a more powerful version--the 43.6-horsepower 44 Special--by boring out the gas engine to 277 cid.

Massey-Harris 44My dad, Henry Thieman of Petersburg, Nebraska, bought a new 44 tractor in 1949, and now it belongs to me. Everything is still original, with the exception of the tires and the rear wheel rims.      
At the time it was made, the 44 was considered a large tractor, comparable to the John Deere A and the Farmall M. It pulled a three-bottom plow in normal soil with ease.


4. Minneapolis-Moline Z
Introduced 1936, the 26.4-horsepower ZTU was the first tractor developed, produced and marketed under the Minneapolis-Moline brand name. These Visionlined tractors, as M-M called them, advertised a superior field of vision. In 1949 the company replaced the ZTU with the 32-horsepower ZA, and then with the ZB from 1953 to '55.

Minneapolis-Moline ZI clearly remember the day when I was about 10 years old and my father bought this new 1951 Z. The attached M-M mower made for an eye-catching combination. He cut hay with it for many years. In those days, our small town of 500 people had Minneapolis-Moline, Farmall and John Deere dealerships, as well as two car dealers.      
I bought the tractor and mower from my father in 1976 and had them restored. Now I show both of them at the county fair and in local parades whenever I get the chance (above).


5. Oliver 70
Oliver built nearly 63,000 of these sleek machines from 1935 to 1948. As the first tractor to make a concerted effort to combine design, ergonomics and utility, the 28.6-horsepower Model 70 set a new standard that other brands emulated for 20 years.

Oliver 70My favorite tractor would have to be the Oliver 70 row crop, because my grandpa used them his whole life. He had a couple of them, and one Oliver orchard tractor. He used them to plow, plant and harvest crops, as well as haul firewood for the winter. As a small child, I used to stand at the edge of the field until he stopped to pick me up so I could ride around the field with him. As I got older, maybe 11 or 12, he would let me disk the field while he sat under a shade tree nearby. Today I own one of the tractors and still use it to bring in firewood and plow the garden. It's mechanically sound and in good shape overall, though the paint is faded.     
It's just a tractor, but a lot of memories come back every time I climb in the seat. I like to think Grandpa would be happy it's still running.


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