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Submitted Article
Case Farm Equipment
by Jeremy Sweeten

My name is Jeremy Sweeten and I am currently a junior at Purdue University. I am taking a dual major in Agriculture Systems Management and Agronomy. I am from North Central Indiana, Miami County to be exact. My dad teaches for Marion Community School Systems an outdoor lab called Asherwood. We live there to manage the place. They just happen to have a Case 311 with a Triple Range transmission. I grew up mowing, pushing snow, and hauling maple sap with it. In 1986 my parents bought an old, ran down 120-acre farm. Along with the deal came a 1953 SC and a 5 foot Bush Hog.
two case tractors on grass
Case SC & DC

It has a foot clutch, Eagle Hitch, and a live PTO. I always used to think that the SC was so big to the 311, but now I have it a little more in proportion. We used the SC to mow thistles on CRP ground and push snow. It now just rakes hay and pulls wagons.

I got my first piece of Case equipment for my sixteenth birthday. It was a little Centennial 2-14” plow. After thoroughly harassing our local Case dealer, I was able to put it back into working condition. I had parts coming in from Arizona and Wisconsin. The little plow still gets used once in a while just to keep it shined up. I think it is one of my favorite pieces of equipment to use. The next item my dad acquired was a 1954 Case 500 Diesel. It boasted power steering, live PTO, and 15-30” rear tires. Tractor number 8040912 currently has over 8,000 hours on it and is still going. This old horse came from just 3 miles from the farm. I still can remember driving it to the farm because it was missing and spraying a lot of water and oil. This was the start of a lot of fun.
case tractor in front of barn
Case 500

First of all, the water pump was rebuilt, new power steering hoses, and the entire tractor was serviced. Just after getting it going again, the government said we couldn’t mow CRP ground unless it was needed. So there was a 500 without a job. This let my young mind think of some new jobs for the 500. But first some more items had to be fixed. To make a long story short, a stripped out front wheel spindle turned into an extensive mechanical restoration project. I took the 500 to Till-Harvest Unlimited, the shop where I worked, and did several things to it. I fixed the left front wheel spindle, put new main and rod bearings in the engine, rebuilt the oil pump, and my boss, Wayne Guyer, rebuilt the transmission. The old girl needed a new bearing and seal on the input shaft, many shims removed and several shafts reworked. Eventually it was all done and was put on the dynamometer and put out 58 hp (same as on the build card) and 440 ft-lb of torque. I also found out that the 3” curved tip straight pipe really makes it sound wonderful.

The 500 gets put to work pulling a Case CHT 4-16” plow,
case tractor with 4 bottom plow
Case CHT 4-16
a 10’ Allis-Chalmers disc hooked to a 10’ Dunham packer, and anything else that needs to be done. I love to hear that big six cylinder pull down on a clay knob. The smoke really starts pouring out, but it just lugs its way on through. Fortunately I have never gotten it stuck because I have nothing big enough to pull it out of the mud.

My first tractor was bought at a tractor show in Tipton, Indiana in 1996. I took the SC there to show it off and found the DC. It is a 1949 model with nothing special about it. I have had a very enjoyable time fixing it up and using it. The DC needed a new radiator, an input shaft bearing, some gaskets, and a couple of seals. I had a great time with it on the dynamometer because it was cranking out 50 hp. I sure do like the sleeves and pistons that the M&W Gear Company made. I pull my Centennial plow with it to work up hay ground. It runs a really pretty blue flame out the straight pipe at night. I am sure glad the neighbors are far away, or else I would keep them awake. I also bale hay, bush hog, and disc with it. It also makes a very good elevator tractor with its non-continuous PTO. Just like everyone else, I was always looking to modernize; I found an upgrade from the DC

case tractor in snow
Just this year I purchased a 1955 Case 401 Diesel. The 401 came from a John Deere dealer in Greencastle, IN. My ag mechanic skills came in very helpful on this project too. I had to fix the charging system, the water pump, put in new injector tips, adjust the valves, and service the entire tractor. It will be my main work tractor next spring. I want to retire the old gasoline tractors and replace them with diesels. I think the old Case diesels are very reliable engines and very gutsy for not being turbocharged. So, I am slowly converting my fleet over.

When I decided to major in agriculture at Purdue University, I decided I was going to use the old Cases to make some money to help with my schooling. The project I got into was becoming a hay farmer. My dad agreed to let me use 20 acres for hay as long as I would keep the farm mowed up and help with Christmas trees. I have been making hay for three years now and love it. All of my neighbors are beginning to recognize the sound of the 500 mowing hay or working the New Holland 67 hay baler. I have also done several custom jobs, but am shying away from them because my stuff always breaks when I am working for someone else (mainly on their hidden obstructions). My hay equipment line up includes a 9’ 488 New Holland haybine, a 67 NH baler, a Case 230 baler, a 254 NH tedder, a 50-foot Kewanee elevator, and a 10’ New Idea side delivery rake. I used to use the 500 for everything except raking. It did all right, but the low clearance is not always helpful when driving over windrows. The drawbar always likes to pile hay up underneath the tractor. The 401 should be a nice step up from the 500.

I would much rather use an old tractor than let it set. It is really intriguing to me to think about how many people have been jostled on those old steel seats before me. If those old Cases could talk, I would love to hear their stories. Of course then I would have to hear them cussing at me too. I would like to continue using and eventually restore my Case equipment. I am even getting some interest out of my fiancée, Michelle, to use the old Cases. She even mowed hay with the 500 last summer. She did a real fine job once she figured out how to drive the rig straight. Hopefully the interest keeps up after we get married (I have my fingers crossed if that helps). In the future I want to at least farm part time and work in the field of Precision Agriculture. This means I would be working with Global Positioning Systems and Geographic Information Systems. These are really big words for high tech farming and crop scouting. I know that whatever I do, I want to be out side and involved with my family, agriculture, and old Case tractors.

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