Farmall H Found 35 Years Later
Jon Kinzenbaw finds his Farmall H, the first tractor he'd driven, years later
Jon Kinzenbaw and the first tractor he ever drove: a 1946 Farmall H.
A man never forgets his first love, or his first tractor (sometimes they're the same), especially a boy who feels like he's a man at 4 years old when he drives his first real and exciting machine.
When Jack Kinzenbaw returned from World War II, and started farming near Ladora, Iowa, he obtained a veteran's permit to qualify for any available tractors. There were few due to the war shortage. But in the spring of 1946 he found one, a brand-new Farmall H, says his son, Jon Kinzenbaw, CEO of Kinze Manufacturing of Williamsburg, Iowa.
"I was only 2 years old at the time," Jon says, "so obviously I don't remember that."
But he does remember the first time he ever drove a tractor – that Farmall H – two years later when he was only 4.
"My dad stepped off the drawbar and left me alone to steer the tractor while he walked along behind," he recalls. "We were in low gear and I was only 4 years old, but I remember it plainly. It's quite a deal when you're sitting on an idling tractor and driving and steering it, and dad's stepped off on the ground, walking right there where he could grab the wheel at any second, but the idea was that I was driving and he was walking. I don't remember much else from when I was 4 years old, but I could take you out to the home farm and show you within 20 feet where that took place."
After that, Jon drove that Farmall H a lot.
"I put the loader on for dad, took it off and put the cultivator on, took it out to the field." he says. "This was the tractor we used for everything: We loaded manure, hauled it, hooked the spreader on the back of it. Dad was a conservative, hard-working guy, and he couldn't afford another tractor, so he used it for everything."
And Jon with him. In fact, to make sure Jon could use the tractor, his father fitted a brake lever from an old Chevy truck to the throttle of the old H, so Jon's short arms could reach it. Then he fashioned a block of wood to the clutch pedal and fixed it with a double hinge, so Jon's stubby kid legs could reach it, and, of course, drive the tractor.
But time changes all things, and by the time Jon was 13 years old, the old H was no longer new. By this time they had a second tractor. Its rods went out while they were planting corn, so John's dad, on the spur of the moment, traded both of those tractors for a shiny new Super M Farmall tractor.
"Of course, being a kid, the H was old hat to me, and I was interested in something newer and bigger, so I was glad to see the old H go," Jon says. "I had no sentimental attachment to it at the time."
That would come later. All Jon saved of that old H was that block of wood that lengthened the clutch pedal, and its half of the hinge.
For the next few years, Jon knew the whereabouts of that old H, partly because Ladora was a small town, and partly because he worked for the local IHC dealer who had taken that tractor in for trade.
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