The Tough International Harvester Cub Cadet Compact Garden Tractor
(Page 2 of 7)
Paul Bell of Louisville, Ky., owns prototype number 409. The locations of the other prototypes remain a mystery.
The company then built 25 pre-production Cub Cadet (note the name change) tractors in November 1960. These machines were sent to potential customers in the field, each slated for 50 hours of testing with mowers and/or blades. These pre-production field-test machines had consecutive serial numbers beginning with 501.
Pre-production field-test Cub Cadets with serial nos. 510, 515, 516, 518 and 520 are owned by Paul Bell, James Bowen of Amory, Miss.; Herb Kroger of Deputy, Ind.; Jim Chabot of Norton, Mass., and Ken Kieger of Suffolk, Va., respectively.
Pre-production Cub Cadets with serial nos. 526 through 589 were produced before the end of 1960 to work out bugs in the assembly line and to establish piece prices for the line workers. Paul Bell recently obtained a Cub Cadet with serial no. 556, but the whereabouts of the others are currently unknown.
Regular Cub Cadet production began in January 1961 with serial no. 590. IH conservatively projected initial annual demand for the machines to be in the 5,000-10,000 range. Lucky for IH, those numbers were seriously underestimated. In fact, just less than 49,000 units were actually delivered in the first two years of production, and about 65,000 units were sold by late 1963.
"The product had been a greater success than anyone had dreamed of," Harold Schramm says when describing IH's entry into the lawn and garden tractor market. As a young engineer for IH, Harold designed the Cub Cadet’s drive-line from the engine to the transmission input shaft.
This initial Cub Cadet – built from 1960-1963 – is called the "original" by enthusiasts today. To identify subsequent models, IH attached model numbers to the Cub Cadet name and regularly changed the numbers with new line introductions.
Narrow frame numbers
By March 1963, Harold and his team had designed a new, improved line of Cub Cadets. While there was no pressure from the top to change the highly successful original, Harold had worked to incorporate a shaft-powered mower drive into the design to eliminate the mule belt, which connected the mower to the PTO on the front of the engine.
"We wanted to bring the frame up to make more clearance for the mower," Harold explains about why he designed a new full-length, ladder-type frame with parallel rails. This frame bolted to either side of the transmission case above the axle housings instead of just to the front of the transmission.
That single change strengthened the frame-to-transaxle connection and allowed the 7-hp engine to be mounted low enough that the crankshaft aligned directly with the clutch and drive shaft. The clutch was no longer off-center, thus IH could eliminate a belt from the drive train.
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