IH Cub Cadet Prototypes: Garden Tractor Trio Showcases Cub Cadet History
His heart set on owning Cub Cadet prototypes, this collector was forced to make his own
Tim DeLooza’s reproduction Cubette is absolutely faithful to the original experimental model – which may not have ever actually run.
Leslie C. McManus
Utterly captivated by the history of International Harvester’s Cub Cadet garden tractor line, Tim DeLooza set his heart on owning design prototypes.
There was just one little glitch in his plan: The prototypes in question had long since been destroyed. That slowed him down but didn’t stop him; Tim just went to work building his own.
With skills well beyond those of the weekend hobbyist, Tim crafted two stunningly perfect, totally accurate reproductions of two early Cub Cadet prototypes. The pair makes handsome bookends to the one surviving Cub Cadet prototype that is the star of Tim’s collection. The fascinating trifecta tells the story of International’s entry into the lawn and garden arena in 1961.
The first prototype
Until Tim rolled up his sleeves, the Cubette prototype was little more than a chapter in the history book. International Harvester built at least three different pre-prototype Cub Cadets. All that survived of the first one – christened the Cubette – was a photo, but that was all it took. “When I saw the photo of the Cubette,” Tim says, “I wanted one. I knew the original didn’t exist, so I would have to build it.”
The original prototype, constructed in 1960 using Farmall Cub parts, was rejected by the committee charged with overseeing design, and presumably was dismantled and reworked in subsequent versions. Tim worked from the only known photo of the prototype in creating his reproduction. But the photo provided only part of the story. Stumped by what he couldn’t see in the photo, Tim tracked down Keith Burnham, one of the original design engineers on the project. Keith gave invaluable counsel on details pertaining to the rear section of the Cubette’s hood.
Tim’s Cubette features a 7 hp Kohler engine with recoil start. Engine placement is the reverse of subsequent Cub Cadet design. “It’s natural to drive off the PTO side,” Tim notes, “and with addition of the reduction housing to the rear end, the differential was set up to run that direction.” The yellow-and-white color scheme is an exact duplicate of the original prototype.
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