2009 Red Power Round Up: Antique Tractor Show Focuses on International Harvester

Annual International Harvester show features antique tractors, engines, trucks and more

Good as gold: The 2009 Red Power Round Up included a large display of gold demonstrator tractors.

The 2009 Red Power Round Up included a large display of gold demonstrator tractors. Left to right: 1970 1456 Turbo demo owned by Max Favourite, Angola, Ind.; 1970 Farmall 1026 Hydro demo owned by Smoker Family Farmalls, Wanatah, Ind.; and 1970 Farmall 1026 Hydro demo owned by Max Favourite.

Leslie C. McManus

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Looking for the mother of all antique farm equipment shows?

Take in a Red Power Round Up. The sheer enormity of the International Harvester line guarantees a vast and varied display of tractors and equipment and, as garage sale ads say, “lots of miscellaneous.”

The 2009 Round Up, held in July in Madison, Wis., was hosted by Wisconsin Chapter No. 4 of the National International Harvester Collectors Club. More than 25,000 people attended the three-day event, which included displays of more than 1,000 tractors, 200 IH trucks, 500 Cub Cadets and hundreds of pieces of machinery covering a span from the 1800s to today – and that doesn’t begin to take in the small pieces and memorabilia exhibits. Educational seminars, new equipment displays, parades, live music and even a parade of 140 tractors and trucks from the show site (at the Alliant Energy Center) to the state capitol grounds, packed the schedule.

Produced at a different site and by a different host club every year, no two Round Ups are the same. Each is an astonishing 72-hour convergence of collectors and collectibles like these:

Going way back

Pieces in Doug Schoenick’s exhibit were among the oldest International Harvester pieces displayed at the Round Up in Madison. For fans of fine originals, his Keystone Pony corn sheller (complete with IH decal) was enough to cause heart palpitations. “When I first saw it, my eyes almost popped out of my head,” admits Doug, who lives in New Holstein, Wis. “It shows no wear at all; it’s like new.” International bought Keystone Mfg. Co. in 1904. The Pony remained in production until 1914, when it was replaced by an all-steel unit.

Doug’s International Type D feed grinder made a nice companion piece for the Pony. Restored when Doug bought it, the piece was patented in 1907. Power is provided by a 3 to 5 hp engine; two 8-inch discs do the grinding. Doug also collects International gas engines: He’s looking for a 10 hp Model M to complete his M Series set. “I’ve been collecting International stuff for seven or eight years,” he says, “but I’ve liked it since I was a kid. My dad had an F-14 and I liked it best.”

1066 Farmall Hydro

When Bob Wells got his hands on his brother’s 826 Farmall Hydro with infinite speeds, it was love at first sight. Soon he found a Hydro of his own: a 1972 1066. “It ran when I got it, but it needed a cosmetic restoration,” he says. Bob did that and more, and now has a showpiece that’s also becoming a regular on tractor drives. “It’ll go 23, 24 mph,” he says.

Bob’s 1066 is equipped with a turbocharger and a 414 International engine. “The 1066 is kind of rare,” he says. “Later they changed it to the Hydro 100.” His brother, Fred, finds the tractor inefficient but fun. “It’s the easiest thing in the world to drive,” he says.

Loaded with options

When Rod Raether stumbled onto a 1934 Farmall F-12 just a mile from his home, it was “like finding a kitten in the woods,” he says. “I had to restore it.” Rod and the tractor had practically cohabited for more than four decades, but he had no idea the tractor was there all that time. A spot of good luck allowed him a chance view of part of the F-12’s drawbar assembly and front wheels. Next thing he knew, he was hauling it out of the woods. “My wife said it was cute,” he marvels, “and I’m still alive.”

Rod decided to restore the tractor with as many uncommon but correct parts as he could find. Today, the F-12 is a show horse, complete with starting and lighting systems, Heisler cold intake manifold, mounted plow and foot-operated brakes, all correct to the tractor and the era.

“I’ve been told that there were only 200 or 300 lighting and starting sets made, total,” he says. “That may be an urban legend; I don’t know. They weren’t manufactured by International Harvester, but they were available on later models as a factory installed option.” Those systems could have added up to $200 to the price of a tractor that sold new for about $600.

“These tractors were built during the era when tractors were replacing horses and mules,” Rod says. “Most farmers would just modify their horse-drawn equipment to use on tractors. There were very few mounted plows built.”

When Rod found the tractor, the lift for the plow was attached by one bolt on each side and the belt pulley was wired to the seat. “It looked to me like the previous owner bought it at a sale, brought it home and never got around to it,” he says. The plow was found nearby and all parts needed to mount it were either on the plow or the F-12.

Stranger to the field

Marian Greer’s 1917 IHC Mogul 10-20 is not a complex mechanical marvel and it doesn’t sport a gleaming paint job. But every time Marian cranked the old beast at the Round Up, a crowd gathered. It is the only original Mogul Marian knows of still in running condition, and it’s going strong. “International claimed that when you plowed with a Mogul, it’d do the work of three men and 12 horses,” he says.

Wearing its original paint and decals, the hopper-cooled Mogul shows the difference made by a lifetime of shelter. “It was ordered to provide belt power for a corn sheller,” Marian says. “It was never used more than 20 miles from where it was delivered, and it was kept in the shed; it was never left out. In fact, it never went to the field a day in its life.”

The Mogul runs on a kerosene/water blend designed to cool the valves and increase the 1-cylinder engine’s power. It has an 8-1/2- by 12-inch bore and stroke and maximum speed of 400 rpm. The drive chain and sprockets are like new, Marian says. “It’s probably been driven more at shows in the last two years than it has been in a long time,” he says. “It’s a rare old bird.”

Discovering a prototype

Interested in rare tractors and orchard models, Mike Androvich, Grand Rapids, Ohio, killed two birds with one stone when he snapped up a 1936 McCormick-Deering O-20 Orchard prototype. On display at the Round Up, the O-20 was a fine example of a bona fide experimental tractor.

“Two brass tags identify the tractor as an experimental built by the IHC Gas Power Engineering Department,” Mike says. He speculates that it was built as an alternative medium-size orchard tractor to complement other orchard models in the IHC line.

After field testing, the tractor was apparently sold to a Los Angeles-area grower who used it for orchard work until 1957. It was then moved to Modesto, Calif., used for a year and then parked in a barn, where it sat for 49 years before being discovered in 2007.

The O-20 has definite similarities to the O-12, Mike notes, and the engine is similar to that used in the concurrent F-20, but it too is tagged as an experimental piece. “The engine is the basis for the U7 power plant,” he says, “and has several features different from the P20, which it replaced.”

When Mike got the tractor, it was in running condition. He rebuilt the magneto and carburetor and made minor adjustments, and today it steers and drives well, he says. He’s looked all over the tractor for hints of the original color. “You would expect gray with red wheels,” he says, “but the bottom color is dark green. I know John Deere painted their experimental tractors different colors, and I believe International did as well.”

Trucks and more

The Red Power Round Up is uniquely poised to celebrate the vast heritage of International Harvester. At the Madison Round Up, two displays showcased vintage trucks and passenger vehicles built by IHC. Tom Thayer, Fitchburg, Wis., showed 28 vehicles from his collection, including three IHC L-series station wagons, each outfitted as a Woody.

“I grew up in Chicago,” he says, “but I learned to drive on a C International pickup. My dad’s hobby was forestry so he had a pickup.” Among the pieces he displayed was a 1974 International 200 camper special. “We used it to pull a boat,” he said, reminiscing. “It has my son’s teeth marks in the dash. It’s just always been part of the family. I’m a collector; I would never get rid of it.” FC