Recovering a Whirlwind Terracer

An antique Whirlwind terracer was the perfect answer to a farm's furrow-making needs.

The Whirlwind terracer at work

On the job on the Trew Ranch near Alanreed, Texas, the Whirlwind performed exactly as designed.

Photo by Ruth Trew

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Extensive rainwater harvesting efforts several years ago on the Trew Ranch found need for a plow to make small, cow-trail-like furrows in grass turf to guide rainwater into collection areas. Such work by the ranch D6 bulldozer destroyed too much grass and the large dirt terraces were not needed. We had a nice-sized Kubota rubber-tired tractor, but no plow to pull.

At this deduction, childhood memories of the 1940s came to me. Dad had purchased a Whirlwind terracer to build dirt terraces on our dryland farm near Perryton, Texas. The machine had a single 18-inch moldboard to loosen the soil and a vertical auger, like a post hole auger, that picked up plowed soil and tossed it various distances depending on the speed of the auger. If such a plow could be found and restored at a reasonable price, it would fit the need nicely.

An ad in the High Plains Journal revealed several Whirlwinds available, most in “junkyard” condition, but believed to be in working condition, or at least they were when parked more than 40 years ago. A deal was made with Calvin Beckman, Lenora, Kansas, to purchase a well-used Whirlwind off his farm north of Hill City, Kansas. We met his son, Lonnie, who loaded the old plow on our trailer and we proceeded home for restoration.

A thorough cleaning with a wire brush found all grease zirks taking grease and all parts working and turning freely. New 600-16 tires and tubes, a couple of welds, both hitch and PTO updating, a new coat of paint and the old plow was ready to spin again.

The serial number tag showed that the plow (model IH, serial no. 4609) was built by Service Equipment Co., Dallas, Texas. This information led to research on the internet. Service Equipment was organized in 1930 to maintain equipment owned by Austin Bridge Co. Later, the new company began to manufacture construction equipment.

In 1945, after World War II ended, Service began to manufacture farm equipment, building the first tractor-mounted rotary stalk shredder mounted on the front of a tractor, allowing a disc plow to be pulled behind. Among many “first time” inventions introduced by the company were 3-point mounted grader blades, shredders, a box scraper and the Whirlwind terracer.

After numerous acquisitions, mergers and new products, the company became Rhino Products. In 2011, Rhino Products (owned by Alamo Group, Inc.) were sold throughout the world. An old implement dealer of my acquaintance says, this was one of the many small manufacturing companies that invented, patented and manufactured equipment using almost all “off the shelf” parts produced by larger manufacturers. Our Whirlwind proved that statement true, as many parts are stamped with IH numbers and all bearings and seals are the standard Timken brand.

With all parts working and the pull-rope attached to activate the mechanical power-lift hub, the machine did exactly what we wanted it to do. We laughed as we used a plow more than 50 years old to follow wooden stakes laid out with a laser beam transit.

During the return trip from Kansas, at each stop we had to answer the question of, “what kind of plow is that?” Traffic along the highways found every type of modern machinery imaginable being hauled to various destinations and there we were, hauling an antique plow, hoping to make it spin its magic once again. FC


Delbert Trew is a freelance writer, retired rancher and supervisor of the Devil’s Rope Museum in McLean, Texas. Contact him at Trew Ranch, Box A, Alanreed, TX 79002; (806) 779-3164; email: trewblue@centramedia.net.