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#44 plow, hitch and age question

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02-09-2013 12:43:59

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My Uncle just found a #44 plow. It has the "knee knocker" hitch I've read about before, but seems to be missing the rope/chain/cable, or whatever it was, that connected the hitch to the clutch lever. So what exactly was it? And how did it attach to the clutch of the tractor? Any one have a picture? Other than that one hitch part and a missing shin, it seems to be a very complete and straight plow. It has the original plow clevis, all the braces on the moldboards, and even the original pin that holds the wheels in the down position for transport. I can't find any welds or bent peices.

I was also wondering the time span this plow was made in. It is hyraulic lift, has a lever for the level adjustment, and has a non-swiviling steel tailwheel. My brief research on the archieves here tells me these features make the plow a late 40's plow. Is that right?

My Uncle said the man he got the plow from remembered looking accross the field and seeing his father rolling on the ground in pain after the clutch had tripped. Funny to think about now but I'm sure it wasn't at the time. Not real sure what we'll do with it but it was much too nice to go for scrap!

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02-11-2013 16:44:36

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 Re: #44 plow, hitch and age question in reply to JLG, 02-09-2013 12:43:59  
The parts book can help a lot to nail down the year of production.

Most of the bolts on my '52 ish #57 plow are hex according to JD Parts .com.

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Jethro Lilley

02-09-2013 14:17:36

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 Re: #44 plow, hitch and age question in reply to JLG, 02-09-2013 12:43:59  
The "knee knocker" was not one part, but a "Rube Goldberg" mechanism in which the clutch handle was attached to the plow by rope, pulleys, springs and chains (kind of like the old mousetrap game,) so when the plow hit an immovable object (rock, stump etc) then the rope would disengage the clutch before damage was done to the plow/tractor. Trouble was... one never anticipated when the durn thing would trip so the clutch lever always slammed into one's right knee. I've not seen a 44 with one still attached. Everyone threw them away. There is a parts picture in the online JD catalogue on page 51. If you still have the pulley on the hitch then you are only missing 25 pieces. Maybe 26 with the rope.

You state the plow has shins, so it must have the 44 HS NC bottoms. The final run of 44H were supplied with this bottom and in 1958 JD came out with a new line of plows using this bottom renamed HS434NC which utilized a trip standard, making the knee knocker obsolete. From 1945-1957 was the run span of 44 and 44H plows and the earlier ones came with resharpenable blacksmith-type shares and a moldboard with no shin. I have my dad's 44H with these shares and another with the HS bottoms. Some folks retro-fitted their 44 to the HS bottoms. Mine uses the HS434NC parts, sometimes referred to as 314 bottoms.

When was yours made? None were numbered. Nothing changed except the cushion mechanism in the plows tongue hitch. Google John Deere Parts Catalogue and type in 44 under "model" in the upper left corner of the site. Then choose 44 series moldboard plow. Then, when the PDF loads,select H and compare your hitch to the ones in the PDF file. They have some serial # breaks. My old one has the cushion hitch used until 1949, and my newer one has the cushion hitch used after 1949. Mine is a really good smooth plow and can be levelled to do anything I want from starting a headland to levelling a dead furrow. Adjust the back plow with the cylinder and the front plow with the lever.

The tail "wheel" is not real a wheel at all, but a "rolling" landside. When adjusted on level concrete it should be about a half inch off of the floor and in use should not quite touch the furrow wall.

Have fun... Nothing compares to breaking land with a B and a 44H. Makes the traffic stop and the neighbors come watch.

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Bob Collins

02-10-2013 05:48:28

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 Re: #44 plow, hitch and age question in reply to Jethro Lilley, 02-09-2013 14:17:36  
Jethro, you say nothing changed except the hitch, but before 1948 the 44H had a leveling crank and after it had a lever for leveling, quite an easy thing to spot.

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Jethro Lilley

02-10-2013 17:57:48

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 Re: #44 plow, hitch and age question in reply to Bob Collins, 02-10-2013 05:48:28  
That's right, Bob. But his plow is a 44H with a levelling lever, and as far as I remember, once the lever was added in place of the crank the basic plow remained unchanged throughout the production run, except for the hitch. After 1948, there is no real way to date a 44 without documentation, which is what he had asked originally. Old timers told me that crank was difficult to use and almost impossible, once rusty, without lifting the plow out of the ground. With an extension on the lever all you had to do was snap the clutch, reach around and adjust the lever, never having to get off the tractor. With the lever, you could start a headland or plow in a dead furrow as level as the rest of the field without ever getting off the tractor.

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02-10-2013 05:46:58

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 Re: #44 plow, hitch and age question in reply to Jethro Lilley, 02-09-2013 14:17:36  
It seems you're knowledgeable on JD plows and information. One questions I've asked many folks time and time again is exactly when JD changed all of the plow hardware from the square head to the more modern hex head.

Tyler in IL

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02-11-2013 06:40:15

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 Re: #44 plow, hitch and age question in reply to Tyler-MO, 02-10-2013 05:46:58  
Here's a thought. During WW2 many industrial changes were made to speed production. Square hardware seems to fade away during and after the war.

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Jethro Lilley

02-10-2013 19:13:38

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 Re: #44 plow, hitch and age question in reply to Tyler-MO, 02-10-2013 05:46:58  
That's a question I have never thought about. What I do know is most all implements from the 40's and before had square heads, and the ones from the later fifties tended to incorporate both. Both my 44H series had square. Maybe someone with a 444 plow could tell us if it had square or hex. I would think Hex heads had to wait for grade 3 steel hardware to be affordable, or torque pressures to be greater than the softer bolts could stand. Dad bought a new 1948 Cat D6 which was all hex grade 3 or better. I remember old Johnny saying, "that's a Caterpillar bolt. Put that in there, it'll stay" The square ones were of softer steel, easily rounded off with an ill-fitting wrench, so hex heads of this steel would have been Really easily rounded off. They probably did it gradually, not with a boom. If I were a family farmer back then with a toolbox full of square-ended wrenches and went to buy a plow (or anything else) and found out I would have to buy a whole new set of those "new-fangled" "six-sided" wrenches along with it, then I might choose not to. Remember, all the tractor companies were still coaxing farmers into retiring their mules in 1950. Ever seen a Monkey Wrench? Ever try to turn a hex with one?

The real boom in ag machinery can about be time-lined to about 1960, when the WWII vets came to maturity. Their fathers (my grandfather)farmed during the Depression and still held the purse-strings of most farms until they started reaching retirement age during the late 50's-early 60's. They remembered the Hoover Days all to clearly and were none-too-eager to spend money unnecessarily. The 1950's was a transition period where mule-driven technology and its malleable iron slowly gave way to horsepower and cold steel.

So... after a whole lot of rambling... I don't have a clue.

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02-09-2013 16:01:20

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 Re: #44 plow, hitch and age question in reply to Jethro Lilley, 02-09-2013 14:17:36  
It has a shin, but not like the one on my #555 plow. It's narrower and wraps around the side of the bottom. I guess you'd call it a shin. It has replaceable shares.

I figured most people ripped those hitches off years ago. I don't think I've ever seen one before, only heard about them. That's why I thought I'd like to keep it on there. We've got a 555 and a newer F630 plow with trip bottoms for plow days. Thought this little 44 would be good for the potato patch behind the "B". (no rocks there, ha).

Thanks for the response, I didn't realize the parts books were online.

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02-09-2013 16:23:36

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 Re: #44 plow, hitch and age question in reply to JLG, 02-09-2013 16:01:20  
You have syracuse 1450 or 1451 bottoms with that style shin.

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Jethro Lilley

02-09-2013 16:38:58

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 Re: #44 plow, hitch and age question in reply to ET, 02-09-2013 16:23:36  
Yes, on the parts online plug in B and look for plow bottoms... the whole list of Syracuse Bottoms is there. Find yours from the pics. Type in "Plow Bottoms" and the list will show up for your other plows.

I think my dad did away with the shin piece on his Syracuse bottoms. He would take two worn moldboards and make a "new" one. Also rebuilt the shares with a new point tip from JD and a "new" cutting edge cut from an old point. I have two points that he rebuilt and several of the new Syracuse repair tips, along with a dozen worn points, some with the cutting edge cut out that he used to repair the rebuilt ones I have now. Sounds like a lot of work, but that's what they did back then. Fortunately, I learned how to weld from him.

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02-09-2013 14:37:26

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 Re: #44 plow, hitch and age question in reply to Jethro Lilley, 02-09-2013 14:17:36  
Jethro,What is this rolling landside suppose to do if it dosen"t touch the bottom or side of the furrow?

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Jethro Lilley

02-09-2013 15:16:25

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 Re: #44 plow, hitch and age question in reply to BlaineM, 02-09-2013 14:37:26  
The downward "suck" created by the plow in the ground will contact the wheel to the furrow bottom with the correct resistance. If not allowed to suck because the wheel is too deep, then the rear plow would "bounce" and practically come out of the ground. The side gap serves a similar duty, keeping the plow from sucking to the left "out of the furrow." This side suction gap allows a clean furrow wall as the gap "disappears" when plowing and the wheel is then against the furrow wall, creating a nice square furrow.

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Bob Collins

02-09-2013 13:34:18

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 Re: #44 plow, hitch and age question in reply to JLG, 02-09-2013 12:43:59  
That would be a post 1948 #44H plow. There is a bracket that attaches to the clutch lever pivot bolt and a chain that pops the clutch lever back to tap you on the knee to tell you you have hit something hard with the plow. Get a parts catalog or view online to see all the pieces.

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02-09-2013 15:24:42

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 Re: #44 plow, hitch and age question in reply to Bob Collins, 02-09-2013 13:34:18  
"Tap" ya one the KNEE..??? Yea..Right..!!!

Always when you least expected it...!!

Hit ya like a TON and a half of bricks..!!!

Swore more than a few times I would never walk again..!!!

Wonder why they made that clutch handle just the right height to hit you on the knee-cap...!!!


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