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Growing Up With Tractors

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While growing up living in a small town in Iowa in the late 50’s and early 60’s, my father was part owner (with his mother and brother) in a farm implement dealership. Between the early 1930’s and when my father got out of the business in the late 60’s, our dealership at some point sold Farmhall, Case, Oliver, Allis Chalmers, Gleaner, Studebaker, Packard, Crosley appliances, Kewanee tillage equipment and Bearcat hammer-mills, among other smaller franchises. (It was a very small town. )

From about 1949 to 1965, we sold Case, Oliver, and Studebaker at the same time. In 1962 we added the AC franchise to the mix.

As a teenager, I would often help out on another uncle’s 260 acre farm and our implement dealership’s 80 acre farm nearby. I have many fond memories from those times working on the farm, helping with the tillage, harvesting, etc. At that time, farming was very labor intensive. I have a photos of baling hay in on that farm in 1947, with our SC pulling a baler that had a Wisconson engine for its power, and there were 5 men in the picture, a pretty large crew compared to today's methods.

(See picture at http://ux1. cts. eiu. edu/csjdn/farm2. jpg )

As a result of the labor requirements, and the relative high cost of machinery, my uncle would partner with the next neighbor down the road on expensive equipment purchases and large harvesting operations. For example, he and his neighbor went together to purchase a hay baler and a pull combine, then they not only shared the equipment, but helped each other put up the crops.

This was where I was called upon most to help out. From the time I could reach the tractor pedals, (or hand clutch) I would do what I could, driving tractors pulling wagons or racks to and from the fields, or pulling the hay rake. When I was older I would help in the tillage operations also, usually pulling a disk harrow across the freshly plowed fields.

As I got older (and bigger)my normal job when baling hay was to load and stack the bales 5 and 6 high on the rack. Once I was given the opportunity to drive the baler tractor while putting up hay. I’m sorry to say I wasn’t very good at it though. At the time the baler was being run with our neighbor’s International M, and I could not get the starting and stopping sequence smooth enough for the men riding on the hay rack, loading and stacking the bales. My starts and stops were so bad, they pulled me from that job after only a couple times around the field. That job was left to the neighbor’s teenage daughter, who had developed the “soft touch” on starting and stopping that the men loading bales preferred.

One time we were having trouble with the baler, and I was told to check the knots as the bales were being pushed out the back of the baler. The baler we used back then had twin twine knotters, that had some wear on them. About every third or forth knot wouldn’t completely tie. To correct the problem, I rode the baler sitting on top of the twine box, and I would check each knot. When I found a bad one, I would quickly re-tie it while the bale was still compressed in the chute. Of course the bale is being pushed out the back of the chute by the plunger, so I only a few had seconds to tie it while it was moving along. If I didn’t get it tied properly, the bale would come apart, and we would have to come to a stop, and carry the loose hay around to re-feed it into the baler. If all of this wasn’t enough, three sides around the field the wind would blow the dust and chaff kicked up by the baler away from me, but when the baler turned into the wind the dust and chaff was blown directly into my face.

But I digress…my main reason for this story is to discuss my uncle, and his Case tractors. He operated this farm, including raising annual crops of corn, soy-beans, oats, alfalfa, and oats, along with feeder cattle, sheep, and hogs, with his SC and a DC Case tractors.

From what I recall about these tractors, the looked very similar with 2 wheel narrow fronts, “fence-post catcher” steering linkage, and hand clutches. They each had PTO, but neither had eagle 3 point hitches or hydraulics. The DC (the more powerful, I believe) had only a hand clutch on the left and the SC had only a hand clutch on the right. Also, I believe, the battery of the DC was exposed, right in front of the steering column, with only a cover on it.

The DC had a Montgomery Ward single piston hydraulic lift manure loader mounted on it. The hydraulic piston mounted vertically in front of the radiator and lifted the loader arms via cables. The loader hydraulics were operated via a pump on the PTO shaft, that only provided pressure when the tractor hand clutch was disengaged, meaning the tractor was moving, or the tractor was shifted into neutral. (To stop the tractor by engaging the clutch would also stop the PTO. )

Also it was a one way ram on the loader lift, meaning only the weight of the loader arms and bucket pushed the oil out of the cylinder, allowing the lift to come down. Top this all off with the fact that the manure bucket was a trip bucket. A long lever at the right rear of the loader released the hook holding the bucket in place, allowing it to tip forward and dump the load. Then, if you were lucky, a very large spring would snap the swinging bucket back up into place and allow the release hook to latch, holding the bucket for the next load.

OK, so we have a tractor with a hand clutch on the left side and a hand operated bucket dump with a trip lever on the right side, that would only lift when the tractor was in motion (forwards or backwards) or stopped and shifted into neutral. If the bucket didn’t re-latch from its own momentum and the power of the spring, the loader would need to be lowered to the ground, while backing up to pull the bucket back around.

Now it is time to load manure. The spreader is pulled into the feed lot and positioned. The loader is driven into the manure, bucket down, filling it up. When the bucket is full, the tractor is stopped, (hand clutch) and shifted into reverse. The PTO is engaged and as the tractor backs up the hydraulic valve is opened, sending pressure to the ram, and the load begins to lift. The tractor backs up far enough then stops, (also stopping the lifting action) is shifted into a forward gear, and steered toward the spreader, off to the side. The load is still slowly lifting, during this forward motion. At just the right time, the tractor is stopped with the left hand clutch, and the bucket is dumped with the right hand lever. The tractor is shifted into reverse to back away from the spreader and get into position for the next attack on the manure. While backing up, the loader hydraulic control valve is changed, allowing the loader bucket to drop all the way down, from its own weight, to reset the bucket latch if it didn’t catch. Then the tractor is stopped, shifted into forward gear and the process starts all over again.

My job was to spread the manure in the field, once it was loaded, so during the loading operation, I would get off my tractor, and sit on the wooden fence and watch. I have to tell you my uncle was a pure master at this loading operation. The process was so smooth, I still swear today, my uncle would do this in one fluid operation, one constant movement, forward and reverse, up and down, with his hands and arms flying all over the place. And remember, this was a tractor without power steering!

Visit my web site for other stories http://ux1. cts. eiu. edu/csjdn

Jim Nantz, IA, entered 2002-03-22
My Email Address: Not Displayed

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