International Harvester Invests in Germany

International Harvester endures two World Wars while expanding its reach into Germany.

McCormick D

McCormick Model D-430

Photo courtesy Matthias Buschmann collection

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Red Tractors 1958-2013 (Octane Press, 2013) is an authoritative and unparalleled look at the tractors built by International Harvester Company and Case IH. Author Lee Klancher leads a research team that has collected more than 380 pages and 700 images, documenting these beloved machines built in America and abroad. In this multi-part series, Farm Collector shares the first chapter of Red Tractor, "1958-1959 The Hinsdale Connection". Matthias Buschmann and Johann Dittmer wrote this first chapter excerpt, which is about IHC Tractors from Germany.

You can purchase this book from the Farm Collector store: Red Tractors 1958-2013.

German IH Tractors: 1908–1959

Both Deering & McCormick opened sales branches in Germany in the 1880s, which IHC operated after forming in 1902. Growing demand for agricultural machinery in Germany, combined with the introduction of burdensome new taxes on foreign imports, led to International Harvester headquarters in Chicago establishing a new production facility in Germany. Precedent for this expansion had been set by similar efforts underway in Sweden and France.

In 1908, IHC established International Harvester Company GmbH in Germany, based at Neuss am Rhein. The company purchased 100,000 square meters of land in the Neuss Harbor district in 1909 and construction began the following year. The production sites were designed and built to standard IHC specifications while the location was chosen for its access to the Rhein River, allowing for direct supply of raw materials and shipping of finished products.

Beginning in 1911, the Neuss plant began manufacturing hay tenders, hay rakes, mowers, reapers, and fertilizer spreaders branded and sold under the Deering & McCormick name. The Neuss plant would produce various machines and tractors under these two brands until 1948. In 1914, facilities were expanded with the addition of a spinning mill established to supply twine fabric material. During World War I (1914–1918), IHC Neuss suffered from severe personnel and raw materials shortages. The plant was also forced to halt production for three months during the spring of 1924 due to the occupation of the Ruhr Valley by French forces. The worldwide economic depression that followed was overcome with the assistance of American loans. Having survived great turmoil, IHC Neuss celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary in 1934 with total production of more than 45,000 agricultural machines.

Beginning in January 1933, the nationalization movement in Germany had a grave impact on businesses and hit foreign companies hardest of all. Starting in 1935, exorbitant taxes placed on foreign-built tractors made their importation financially unviable. The goal of the Nazi regime was to establish complete independence from foreign imports. Given these burdensome new taxes, IHC shifted Neuss production from agricultural machinery to tractors. Construction of new tractor production lines began in 1936, with the delivery of production equipment and technical know-how once again made possible by loans from American creditors. In May 1937, the first Model F-12-G and I-12-G tractors began rolling off the production line. (The G in the model name was short for Germany.) The adaptation of the F-12-G for the German market called for an increase in power delivery through the power-takeoff shaft and pulleys. The first FG and FS models were delivered in 1940. The FG came with rubber tires and the FS was equipped with steel wheels.

Due to fuel shortages and a ban on gasoline use in civilian vehicles, the Neuss plant began converting existing tractors to run on wood gas (a form of syngas) in 1943. Two models, the HS and the HG, were built from 1943 to 1944, comprising a total of 144 units.

By the time World War II neared its end, roughly 70 percent of the Neuss plant had been destroyed by allied airstrikes. In March 1945, Neuss am Rhein was captured by the 83rd U.S. Infantry Division and the 330th U.S. Infantry Regiment. Reconstruction began in May 1945 under British occupation, and with funding from IHC in Chicago. IHC’s investment totaled $17 million, a shockingly high figure for its time. Following the withdrawal of British troops in November 1945, the Neuss plant was granted permits allowing for emergency production of urgently needed replacement parts. By August 1946, the first Model FS and FG tractors once more began to roll off the production line.

In 1949 and 1950, the FG and FS tractors were updated again, with a new aero-fairing and hallmark bright-red paint. The most substantive shortcoming, however, remained the carbureted gasoline engine, which made the tractors increasingly difficult to sell. A diesel engine was vital to restoring sales. With the development of their new diesel motor still under way, IHC Neuss turned to an outside company, MWM, as a last-minute supplier of the diesel motors fitted in the FG-D2 model.

In November 1950 Neuss introduced its first in-house, self-starting diesel motor in the DF25 model, the last tractor built in the Neuss plant to be branded under the name McCormick-Deering, the dual-marque name used on Neuss-built machines from 1948 to 1951. The DF25 was based on the same chassis as older F-type models. Nonetheless, it represented a significant improvement to all substantive components, including motor and drivetrain.

Despite progress with their new diesel motor, IHC Neuss only produced a single tractor with an available 25 horsepower. This was unacceptable given the evolving demands of the German agricultural industry. Moreover, IHC’s competitors offered a wide variety of options in this power range. In response, Neuss began work on a new line that would come to include the DLD2, DED3, and DGD4. These tractors were available with 12, 20, and 30 horsepower in two-, three-, and four-cylinder diesel configurations. In total, more than 22,000 units were built across the three models. These original models from the first generation D-Line became the basis for all tractors that were built from 1956 to 1966 and designated as part of the second-generation D-Line.

Second-Generation International Harvester D-Line, 1956–1962

In February of 1956, IHC Neuss introduced the completely re-worked second generation D-Line with new styling and improved equipment. In order to meet market demands, the model assortment had been expanded as well. Among the two- and three-cylinder motors were versions with 82.6 mm bore, 87.3 mm with the same stroke of 101.6 mm. The new Farmall tractor line included the two-cylinder D-212 and D-217, the three-cylinder D-320 and D-324 and the four-cylinder D-430 (see Germany IHC Chart 1).

In 1958 the standard model line was extended to include the D-214 and D-217 as well as the 40-horsepower D-440, all fitted with roots-type superchargers and produced only in 1958-59. In 1959, the model range was further expanded with the introduction of the 36-horsepower naturally aspirated D-436 (see Germany IHC Chart 2).

Both the Farmall D-212 and Farmall D-217 were well suited for use with mid-mounted accessory equipment. The use of gantry axles on the drivetrain allowed for high ground clearance. Given the falling demand for tractors designed for use with accessory equipment, these two tractors were replaced by IHC after 1958 with the D-214 Standard and D-217 Standard models. One can also note the change in model designation; Farmall was dropped from the model number and Standard was added after to it. As plans for the development of new tractors became a priority, IHC began to forgo the use of the famous Farmall brand name. With production of the subsequent model line, tractors came equipped with a 6+1 speed transmission. From 1957 on, the term Agriomatic was used to describe tractors which had 20 (or more) horsepower and an 8+2 speed transmission. Besides the additional gear ratios the new transmissions featured a wear-resistant multi-disc clutch, which improved both the shifting procedure as well as power takeoff engagement. Given the advantages, IHC began delivering a more and more of its tractors with this superior new drivetrain. Most of the tractors were equipped with hydraulics and three-point hitch linkage. It was also common for tractors to be fitted with McCormick-branded side-mounted grass mowing units, which were prized for the strong reputation of their cutter-bars. Due to popular demand, IHC dealers often fitted front loaders and weather protective canopies as well. FC

Read more from Red Tractors 1958-2013 in:

• International Harvester Company Reveals Return of the Large Tractor at Burr Ridge Farm
• International 460 Ushers in New Era for International Harvester Company
• The Next Generation of Red Tractors: The 40 and 60 Series
• The International 460 and the Evolution of Red Tractors
• The Farmall M and the Red Tractors of Great Britain     
IHC and McCormick Deering: The Red Tractors of France
Red Tractors Down Under: International Harvester Company of Australia

Reprinted with permission from Red Tractors 1958-2013: The Authoritative Guide to International Harvester and Case-IH Farm Tractors in the Modern Era by Lee Klancher and published by Octane Press, 2013. Buy the book from our store: Red Tractors 1958-2013.