The History of Farmall Tractors: 1940-1954

Learn how Farmall’s expansion into construction equipment developed alongside the manufacture of quality trucks and farm equipment.

| December 2015

  • 1953 Super B-MD. While IHC produced just about 5,200 of these in the United States, records estimate the British M-diesel production at more than 900. Other than country of origin, however, the machines are very similar.
    Photo by Randy Leffingwell
  • The BN provided a narrower rear tread width than the standard B offered. It could be as slim as 56 inches. This catered to vegetable growers and truck farm operators.
    Photo by Randy Leffingwell
  • 1945 Model BN. Chicago Tractor Works manufactured the first BN, or Model B Narrow (single) front-wheel tractor, on October 31, 1940. IHC conceived of it as a two-row version of its Model A.
    Photo by Randy Leffingwell
  • 1945 Model B. This was a typical Model B configuration with its cambered front wheels creating a small row-crop tractor. The B weight 1,830 pounds, about half of the Model H's 3,725 pounds.
    Photo by Randy Leffingwell
  • These compact machines could spread out rear tread width to as much as 92 inches. IHC manufactured a total of 75,241 of the Model B tractors.
    Photo by Randy Leffingwell
  • 1948 Super AV. The Super A appeared in 1947 and remained in production into 1954. These models offered an electric starter and lights, and they introduced the production version of the Touch Control hydraulic system.
    Photo by Randy Leffingwell
  • Critical viewers will note that the word "Super" is missing from the nose decals. While the serial number 255558 confirms it is a Super AV, a mix-up at the restoration shop set the wrong decal in place.
    Photo by Randy Leffingwell
  • The Touch Control hydraulic system consumed the limited additional horsepower that Super As had to offer over the Model A. But few operators complained once they got accustomed to the accurate depth and lift control the system provided.
    Photo by Randy Leffingwell
  • 1948 W-6. With his two drive wheels on the high side, David Bradford and his son Ash pulled three 14-inch plows across a portion of a central Indiana bean field. The W-6's 248-cubic-inch four-cylinder developed 32.8 horsepower on the drawbar, sufficient even for dry soil.
    Photo by Randy Leffingwell
  • 1948 O-6. Raymond Loewy's styled orchard tractors have been described as "Buck Rogers at 4 miles per hour." But that would only be third gear. In transport gear, this tractor could reach 14!
    Photo by Randy Leffingwell
  • If any tractors can be called beautiful, they must be the full sheet-metal orchard models of the early 1950s. Form followed function, and protecting tree branches led to curved surfaces and sealed seams.
    Photo by Randy Leffingwell
  • The full shroud over the steering wheel protected the tractor operator as much as the trees. Orchard models dropped the operator's seat down several inches as well, to more easily clear low-hanging branches and fruit.
    Photo by Randy Leffingwell
  • These were heavy machines, weighing in at 5,435 pounds, ready for shipping from Farmall Works. In 1951, the O-6 sold for $2,460.
    Photo by Randy Leffingwell
  • John Wagner's beautifully restored diesel 1949 Model MD. IHC built the first one of these on January 13, 1941, and continued to produce them until late March 1952.
    Photo by Randy Leffingwell
  • 1949 Farmall Cub on Stilts. The Tractor Stilts Company of Omaha, Nebraska, produced its first ultra-high-clearance conversion in 1948. Soon after, it began to manufacture kits for nearly every tractor make and model. Farmers used these conversions frequently for detassling corn.
    Photo by Randy Leffingwell
  • While the Cub on Stilts provided nearly 60 inches ground clearance, the 1956 international Cub High-Clearance wide tread at right offered not quite half of the but with 78-inch tread width.
    Photo by Randy Leffingwell
  • Electric lighting was optional on the $3,145 base tractor. The five-forward gear transmission provided a transport speed of 16.375 miles per hour.
    Photo by Randy Leffingwell
  • IHC's D-248 inline four-cylinder used 3.875-inch bore and 5.25-inch stroke. At 1,450 rpm, the engine developed 27.5 horsepower on the drawbar and a peak of 38.2 PTO horsepower.
    Photo by Randy Leffingwell
  • 1950 Model C Demonstrator. IHC assembled these tractors at its new Louisville, Kentucky, plant. For three months for 1950, the factory manufactured tractors in white. Dealers could order them complete with cardboard placards that showed off every new feature.
    Photo by Randy Leffingwell
  • IHC improved the Model C in 1948. Yet a corporate promotion in 1950 launched a series of white demonstrators to explain to farmers that this C was something special. Touch Control hydraulics first appeared on the C- and Super A-series tractors.
    Photo by Randy Leffingwell
  • These tractors used the same C-113 engine that IHC fitted into A- and B-series tractors. But running the engine at 1,650 rpm instead of 1,400, and increasing compression to 6.1:1 from 5.33:1, gave the C a few extra horsepower.
    Photo by Randy Leffingwell
  • 1950 Model C Demonstrator and regular production version. While IHC uprated the engines slightly, it greatly increased the frame strength and overall weight of the Model C over the Model B it replaced. Both demonstrator and production Cs weighed 2,780 pounds dry, while the A was just 1.870.
    Photo by Randy Leffingwell
  • 1950 Farmall Cub Demonstrator. IHC manufactured its Cubs at the Louisville plant. During the same 1950 promotion, Cub demonstrator models appeared all in white.
    Photo by Randy Leffingwell
  • From the engine flywheel house back, nothing is standard M equipment. This prototype boasts larger disc brakes, longer rear axles, and larger axle diameter as well as shorter housings. Engineering set the hydraulic pump inside the rear casing, one more upgrade that would not appear until 1963.
    Photo by Randy Leffingwell
  • 1950 M-8 Prototype. The "M-8" designation here stands for manual eight-gear transmission. This is a prototype of the dual-range four-speed system.
    Photo by Randy Leffingwell
  • 1950 Super A with Auger. With 19.1 horsepower off the PTO, this Super A was the perfect candidate to run the long auger. These 2,385-pound $1,150 tractors were very popular. IHC manufactured about 94,000 of them between 1948 and 1954.
    Photo by Randy Leffingwell
  • 1951 Farmall Cub. Conceived and developed as the Farmall X or Baby Farmall, IHC introduced the Cub in 1947. The sales division had concluded that southeastern cotton and tobacco farmers could use a machine that was smaller than the Farmall A.
    Photo by Randy Leffingwell
  • More than a garden tractor, the compact Cub was conceived as a real working machine for small acreage farmers. Of course, this philosophy made it the perfect tractor for large-acreage estates with lush gardens.
    Photo by Randy Leffingwell
  • 1952 Super M. IHC's concept of improving power continued with the Super M, an increased-output version of its most powerful workhorse. With 42 drawbar horsepower, this new machine was nearly 30 percent more potent than its predecessor.
    Photo by Randy Leffingwell
  • Four cylinders of 4-inch bore and 5.25-inch stroke yielded a 264-cubic-inch engine. Running at 1,450rpm, the engine would develop 47.5 horsepower on the PTO shaft.
    Photo by Randy Leffingwell
  • The M and Super M weighed 5,100 pounds with both 6-volt electric starting and lighting systems. The tractor stood 79 inches tall and nearly 135 inches long.
    Photo by Randy Leffingwell
  • 1954 Super M-TA. Lurking in the shadow of the right rear wheel was the complicated collection of clutch levers and linkages that engaged the MTA. This system used an auxiliary planetary gear-set to take better advantage of engine torque in difficult conditions.
    Photo by Randy Leffingwell
  • The M-diesel (MD) started on gasoline and then, once its cylinders reached operating temperatures, the engine ran on diesel fuel. IHC rated both the Super M and Super MD with identical drawbar horsepower (42) and belt-pulley or PTO (47.5) output.
    Photo by Randy Leffingwell
  • From the flywheel forward, it was a pretty simple machine. The 264-cubic-inch inline four-cylinder engine was no different from non-TA-equipped M or Super M models.
    Photo by Randy Leffingwell
  • The TA essentially doubled the number of gears in the tractor transmission. The planetary gear system allowed operators to shift from one range to another while moving.
    Photo by Randy Leffingwell
  • 1954 Super M-TA. David Bradford of Warren, Indiana, kept an eye on the furrow as he plowed with a Model 70 3-14 plow. Engaging the Torque-Amplifier reduced ground speed by about 32 percent while increasing pulling power by nearly 48 percent.
    Photo by Randy Leffingwell
  • 1954 Super W-6-TA Diesel. Bill Tyner's uncommon machine sat waiting for work. The 5,815-pound tractor was one capable worker.
    Photo by Randy Leffingwell
  • The W-6 sat on an 81-inch wheelbase and stretched 130 inches long overall. It measured almost 92 inches to the top of the exhaust pipe.
    Photo by Randy Leffingwell
  • The hefty 264-cubic-inch diesel developed 43.8 horsepower at the drawbar and 48.5 off the PTO. With five speeds forward and the TA doubling that potential, there were few conditions that would trouble this tractor.
    Photo by Randy Leffingwell
  • “Farmall” by Randy Leffingwell and Robert N. Pripps tells the story of one of America’s most enduring tractor brands, with gorgeous color and archival photographs to illustrate Farmall’s evolution.
    Cover courtesy Voyageur Press

Discover the complete history of Farmall, from the early days of McCormick and Deering to the latest models, in Farmall (Voyageur Press, 2015) by Randy Leffingwell and Robert N. Pripps. The following excerpt discusses how IHC decided to expand their market beyond farm equipment and trucks.

You can buy this book from the GRIT store: Farmall.

1945-1954: As Focus Changes, Vision for the Future Blurs

World War II engaged McCormick’s imagination. Through the diversity of wartime products IHC manufactured, McCormick came to believe his corporation no longer needed to be strictly a farm equipment and truck maker. With nearly 100,000 workers in seventeen plants, sales increased more than $100 million each year (about $1.3 billion today) during the war. McCormick had money to expand product lines and to buy new factories to build them.

The Tractor Division staked its share of development money on a compact machine meant for the small two- or three-horse farm. Here the Naming Committee broke form. The letter-series Farmalls beginning in 1939 with the Model M reached Model Es in the early 1940s (with jumps to H and A). In various meetings, everyone referred to this new prototype as the Farmall X or the F. Now, in September 1945, public relations man Art Seyfarth, patent attorney Paul Pippel, engineer Sperry, and the five other committee members named it the Cub. IHC’s Sales Department aimed 45 percent of total Cub production at the east and southeast.



Production began in Louisville, Kentucky, late in 1947. Nearly 135,000 rolled out over the next four years. Half the purchasers were first-time tractor buyers replacing horses or mules on farms where the Cub was the only tractor. In 1945 30 percent of the United States, about 1.6 million farms, still used only draft animals. Cotton, tobacco, poultry, and vegetable-truck farmers favored the Cubs, as did people who farmed part-time or maintained large gardens. The largest proportion was farms of 10 to 19 acres.

At the other end of the size spectrum, McCormick’s perceptive but forceful friend, McCaffrey, IHC’s vice president, found a growth industry in construction. To reward his work and ideas, IHC’s board elected McCaffrey president and chief operating officer in 1946.






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