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Garden Tractors Discussion Forum

Re: Case 446

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Tom Arnold

11-28-2013 05:35:31

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I believe that you are referring to the Spirit currently owned by collector Steve Guider from Ohio. Steve purchased that tractor from Hem Krueger, another well-known collector of Case and Colt garden tractors.

The community is divided over the true number of Spirit tractors that Case had prepared for the 1976 4th of July parade in Racine, Wisconsin but at least 4 are known to survive. All of them were 1976 Case 446 garden tractors with 16 HP Onan twin cylinder engines.

Since that time, the design of the tractors varied little. Case sold the division responsible for outdoor power equipment to Jack Ingersoll in late 1983 and the name was changed from Case to Ingersoll. It was then sold to the Rothenberger Group from Germany and then sold again to Eastman Industries in Portland, Maine where it remains today.

Currently it is still possible to purchase an Ingersoll tractor that continues to make the frames and decks from structural steel that is welded together instead of stamped out in a press. The fenders and hood are steel instead of a plastic of some kind. The tried and true patented hydraulic drive that was designed in 1962 continues to propel the tractor itself as well as many attachments.

Many people think that "They don't make 'em like that anymore." and they would be wrong when it comes to these tractors. If anything, they continued to be made better and better over the past 50 years.

Unfortunately, garden tractors are going the way of the dinosaur. The number of American companies that still produce a true garden tractor can easily be counted using just one hand. The once proud names such as Oliver, Wheel Horse, Bolens, Ford, Cub Cadet, Minneapolis-Moline, White and many others have fallen by the wayside as the market for garden tractors continued to shrink.

Deere makes but one line of GT's. Simplicity offers just two models of garden tractors. Ingersoll a brand, is all but dead. But thanks to the growing interest in collecting, preserving and showing garden and lawn tractors, examples such as Steve's Spirit of 76 will live on for people to see.

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12-09-2013 09:44:39

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 Re: Case 446 in reply to Tom Arnold, 11-28-2013 05:35:31  
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So true... even on the lawn tractors it seems like it's either a push mower or a zero turn, not much in between, that's different at least. Lots of MTD made ones that are all the same under the paint color. Seems to me that fewer folks are putting in big gardens and perhaps fewer even mowing their own lawn. I see lots of lawn maintenance companies on their professional walk behinds or zero turns doing yards. I've even thought about calling one on occasions when I had so many other things going that I couldn't get to it. Being small, the GTs do seem to be a hot area for collectors vs. the full size tractors. I've sort of caught the bug a bit myself, the MIL gave me a Cub Cadet 86 that I'm going to get running, then maybe look for another project GT (as if I need one!).

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