Farm Collector

Letters to the Editor

Recalling cornhusking’s glory days

In one of your summer issues, you had an article about a collection of items used when corn was shucked by hand. It reminded me that when I was 18, in 1939, my family loaded up in my folks’ car and drove to Lawrence, Kan. My dad and his brother were considered some of the better corn shuckers of this area, so they wanted to see what the national champions looked like when they were doing their thing. Over the years I ended up with the evidence that we indeed were there. Now I’m almost 88. As the saying goes, “time flies when you’re having fun.”

Clifford V. Campbell, 840 230 Rd., Beloit, KS 67420

John Deere H decal?

I enjoy receiving Farm Collector every month. Although I am primarily a “green man,” I thoroughly enjoy articles on the history of the early farming days and am always amazed at how practical and creative our farming ancestors were.

I would like to comment on the cover photo of the February 2009 issue. I am not a “correct policeman”; however, I am not aware that the John Deere H ever had an H decal like the one displayed in the picture. My guess is that you are also going to receive a number of letters or e-mail from the correct policemen regarding this.

Keep up the excellent job you are doing, especially articles detailing the history of equipment development and the pictures that show these working antiques.

Gary L. Miller, Grand Rapids, Mich.

Roll-O-Matic predecessor?

In regard to a question from Richard Hanson (Farm Collector, March 2009, page 6) about offset wheels on a 1938 John Deere Model A: This is what became the Roll-O-Matic on John Deere narrow front tractors. In north Jersey we have lots of rocks and groundhog holes. This type of front end helps smooth out the travel – the straight type can be rough and often would break off.

I enjoy the magazine.

Linden B. Smith Jr., 19 Linn Smith Rd., Augusta, NJ 07822

Restoration of dad’s F-14 becomes a labor of love

My dad, Louis Holtman, bought this 1939 Farmall F-14 (below) new three months before I was born. It was his first tractor and his only tractor until the early 1950s. After that, it was used less and less, sometimes just once a year when I came home.

I have always loved this tractor. When we bought a farm in Missouri in 1947, we took it with us. Daddy passed away in 1977. The tractor went to one of my older brothers who always meant to restore it. He called me in August 2007 and asked if I still wanted it. I made the 1,500-mile round-trip to get it the following week.

One of my other brothers had borrowed the rubber tires and installed steel wheels on it many years ago, and the engine was stuck tight. I noticed the pistons, sleeves and bearings looked very much like Farmall C parts – all of these parts were a match. My oldest brother had terminal cancer at the time, so, if he was to see a picture of Daddy’s tractor, I had to hurry. By working day and night, I had it done in six weeks. He got to see the pictures. All of my siblings have a photo of it hanging on their walls. I have restored several tractors, but this is the only one that was a “labor of love,” for my dad, the tractor and my siblings.

Gary Holtman, Columbus, Miss.

Recalling near disaster on vintage Fordson

As I read the story about Roger Dale’s Ronning silage chopper and 1922 Fordson tractor, it brought back memories of my dad’s Fordson. It was my dad’s second tractor; the first was an IHC 8-16 Mogul that was parked in the grove when he purchased the Fordson. When Dad cranked the Fordson you could hear the buzz of the coil boxes as each cylinder reached compression. If one did not buzz, Dad would take the wooden coil box out, file the points and clean the three contact spots, and put it back in.

This was the first tractor I learned to drive, and I remember the steering was fast – a little turn made the front wheels turn a lot. I learned to drive the Fordson while pulling an 8-foot binder. When I was 10, that was the biggest noise I had heard: The worm gear set-up was very noisy and the fenders made it worse. And was it ever hot between those fenders! Dad’s next tractor was a 10-20. It was equipped with fenders, but it didn’t make much noise.

After high school, I worked for the George Nelson equipment company (an International Harvester dealer), Fairfax, Minn. One day I helped deliver a corn picker and had to drive the trade-in – a Fordson – back to town. That was something I had never seen before – a Fordson without fenders but with a single-row corn picker mounted on the right side that was mostly in back of the rear wheel, so it looked very overbalanced. This Fordson was equipped with rubber tires and I had never seen a Fordson without steel wheels.

The farmer started it up, and I got on and headed down the driveway. When I got over the hill, I stopped and put it in third gear and away we went. When I came to the pavement, I slowed down and turned the steering wheel to the left. The front wheels turned, but the Fordson went across the pavement and down into the ditch. Believe me, I took it easy and made it back to the shop in fine shape. I have only seen one other Fordson and picker like that since the late 1940s.

Everett Hanson, 204 N.E. Fourth St., Fairfax, MN 55332

Unique Wincharger display delights show crowds

Before power lines found rural homes, Winchargers like this were bought for $20 and mounted on the house roof. This is a model 38 Crosley 6-volt 15-amp 125-watt. When and if the wind blew, it charged 6-volt batteries that powered a radio or light bulb when needed.

While at the 2007 National Crosley meet in Ohio, I met a man who had only the generator and tail with documentation on it. He said it wasn’t for sale, but he thought if he sent that piece home with me and I brought it back to the next year’s meet complete, running and powering a radio, then it would be mine.

Dave Ballinger, a Wincharger collector in Burlington, Iowa, was a great help in finding the missing parts and information.

I had to figure out how to transport and show a working 17-foot-tall windmill in the five states we show in. This is a 1938 Crosley Wincharger so I mounted it on a section of wood-shingled “house roof” mounted on the bed of a 1941 2-cylinder Crosley convertible pickup. I hinged the tower so it would fold down over the cab and hood onto a front bracket for transport. I mounted the Wincharger controls, a 1938 6-volt Crosley radio and a 6-volt house light bulb in the open rear gable end of the house roof section.

It was a spinning, musical, lighted display for 20 days in five states in 2008. The 17-foot-tall display spun through some parades trimming a few tree leaves. Spectators really liked it with the energy crisis in mind, especially on a cute little 50 mpg pickup. It is part of the world’s largest Crosley collection owned by me and my wife, Shirley.

Paul Gorrell, 11306 Mill Dam Rd., Burlington, IA 52601

Cub Cadet is latest restoration project

I have been around International Harvester equipment all my life. In addition to this Cub Cadet No. 70, I have a restored Farmall H and a new Farmall DX 24.

I work in the parts department of a road construction company. When a former coworker told me she had an old Cub Cadet she no longer needed, I bought it immediately. The Cub ran perfectly. It needed sandblasting, paint (PPG 81518b and 8665), decals and the correct seat.

I spent many, many hours on the Internet researching and learning about Cub Cadets. Online, I found fenders, reflectors, a 3-point hitch, spring assist, seat, decals, a set of rear wheels, dual wheel spacers, six new tires, a Brinly 1-bottom plow, a sleeve hitch and front weights for a compact tractor. I worked on it for about a year. I plan to take my Cub Cadet to shows with the plow on it. Currently, I am working on another Cub Cadet that I received from another coworker, a 1967 No. 124.

Loren Ritter, Pequot Lakes, Minn.; (218) 821-3525

Plowing with horses gives appreciation for old days

I am a long-time subscriber to Farm Collector. Often when I read articles and look at the pictures I’m reminded of my past, growing up with what we now call collectibles. Now I spend time and effort to play with my friends and relive those bygone days. The key word is “play.” I think that the things many of us collectors do are only fun because we no longer have to do it that way.

Case in point: shocking wheat, so we have a crop to thresh during our annual show. It’s always hot and we usually don’t have as much help as we would like. I remember some time ago someone made the comment that half of the men that offered to help were so old that someone had to drive them to the field as they were no longer able to get there on their own. I guess it’s a case of our mental faculties not staying in pace with our physical faculties, which is no doubt a good thing.

My son-in-law, Chad Ramsey, took a real nice picture of me and my team of Percherons plowing with an International Harvester plow at the 34th annual Mid-America Threshing & Antique Show in Tipton, Ind., in August 2008. This plow was made by the P&O plow company for IH. In 1909, IH contracted with P&O (Parlin Orendorff) to make Little Chief sulky plows; in 1919 IH bought the company and continued production.

Plowing with horses is like watching a crackling fire or a running brook. You can hear the plow tear through the roots and watch the earth turn over right underneath you. It’s quite an experience; however, it’s hard to imagine trying to plow a large acreage. You must rest the horses and it seems like you’re not getting much done at 14 to 16 inches per pass. It gives you a whole new respect for our ancestors who did it for real, not for “fun.”

Larry F. Whitesell, Tipton, Ind.

Was check wire dangerous?

I have a question about old-time farming. One of my great-uncles in Minnesota was killed by lightning while planting a field of corn in May 1915. The family story is that he had a “wire run” to keep his rows straight and the lightning struck the wire, knocked the horses down and killed the uncle, setting his clothes on fire, too.

Could he have been using the check-row planter method with a “check-line” wire for planting his corn, and do you know if danger from lighting would be a possible while planting corn with this method?

Ruth Benedett, Nixa, Mo.; e-mail:

Looking for paint advisory for mowing machine

I recently purchased a McCormick Ideal mowing machine in almost new condition, except for 100 years of rust. I saw pictures of it in C.H. Wendel’s book, but I want to make sure of the color scheme before I paint it. I would also like to know where to find a book that will do the same for other horse-drawn equipment. I have some plows and discs and have had trouble finding the colors for them.

Jerry L. Benson, 1625 Knox Rd. 2175 E., Williamsfield, IL 61489; (309) 639-4469; e-mail:

A John Deere Hoover?

Can someone help us figure out what this is and what it was used for? On the front it says John Deere. In bigger letters it reads “Hoover.” It is made of iron. It measures 29 inches tall by 28 inches long by 17 inches wide. There is a pedal on the bottom right. When pressed down, the top bar moves as if to cut. Below the bar are three sets (they look like broad fork tines) that may be used to hold an object in place. Among these fork tines are four thin pieces of metal that look like they could be sharp. At the bottom it looks like a slide where cut material exited. Hope someone can tell us what it is.

Jim Luke, 2880 County Rd. 33, Mayer, MN 55360

More on offset wheels

In regard to Richard Hanson’s letter (Farm Collector, March 2009): Depending on the use of this tractor, it might be to prevent small stones from wedging in between the tires. When the wheels are directly across from each other, it causes a pinch point at the bottom. This set-up would also make it function better in mud – they would release mud rather than pressing it inside and around the spindle. This same system is in use yet today – closing wheels on corn planters are set up this way to prevent stock butts and rocks from lodging in between the wheels. Hope this helps.

Lloyd Weber, 2673 Hwy. 22, Riverside, IA 52327; e-mail:

Harvesting sugar beets in Idaho in 1941

I read with great interest your article in the January issue of Farm Collector on sugar beet and bean harvest. I went to Burley Idaho, in the fall of 1941 and worked in the bean, potato and beet harvest. We started on beans (great northern navy beans). They were first undercut with a 1 -row under-cutter. Then we windrowed them with a pitchfork. After they had dried sufficiently we hauled them into the farmstead with a hayrack and stacked them. Then we threshed. The dust was so bad you could hardly see anyone on the stack. They were stacked with a Johnson fork.

After the beans were harvested we started on the potatoes. We picked in wire baskets and wore a belt with sacks attached with hooks. We’d fill two baskets and then empty into the sacks. We wore special gloves with elastic wrists to keep dirt out.

Next came the beet harvest. From morning to night we topped the beets with a beet knife that I still have (shown at right). The beets were loosened with a 1-row beet puller. We loaded the beets by hand after topping them. We had two beet wagons and one Dodge truck. It was 4 miles to the beet dump in town. It was starting to get cold in November; in the morning the beets were covered with frost. We lived in a garage and ate beans three times a day. We worked there for two months. I saved $50 during that time.

We went out in a 1934 Chevy car with no heater and returned in the middle of November. We were paid in silver dollars; wish I still had them. I was 18 years old and it was the first time I had been away from home. I am now 86.

The most memorable event of that was a trip in the beet truck to get a load of coal. I volunteered to go with the boss. We left on a Saturday night and drove all night. We arrived in Huntington, Utah, on Sunday morning. All the mines were closed on Sunday. We finally found a mine where a lone miner and his family lived. He agreed to get us a load of coal, but we had to help load it. He hitched up an old horse and we proceeded up the mountain to the mine entrance. We hooked the horse to the mine cart and went straight back in the mine 700 feet. He furnished us with miner’s lamps. I can’t remember how many trips we made until we had a truckload.

I wouldn’t take anything for my experience, but would hate to do it again!

Harold Jehle, Baldwin, Kan.

Hand-built tractor strikes a chord

I enjoyed the article “Off the Beaten Path” in the March issue of Farm Collector. I particularly liked the picture of the hand-built grove tractor. This is a picture of my father, Joe Kudwa, who farmed in Iron County, Mich. The tractor he is driving looks very much like the picture in the March issue. The tractor was built by my uncle, Oliver Harju, Crystal Falls, Mich. Oliver was a self-taught mechanic who built several Model A units along with other farm implements. I received the photograph a couple of years ago from a cousin and have enjoyed sharing it with friends. Both Oliver and my father are deceased.

Ben Kudwa, Grand Ledge, Mich.

A Regular F-20

Concerning the photo of Ralph Schaub fueling his F-20 (Farm Collector, March 2009, page 6): The fuel tank looks like F-20 and the oil pressure gauge on the filter is F-20. But in the text, Wayne said the exhaust backed out over the frame on the left side. That is a Regular Farmall engine.

The last Regular was built Jan. 5, 1932, serial number T134954. The first F-20 was built January 1932 with starting serial number 501. The F-20s were built until April 1932 – serial number 3000? No more F-20s were built for 19 months. It was during the Great Depression. In December 1933, January 1934 and February 1934, they built 554 F-20s, serial number T135000 to T135554. These numbers were probably an extension of the Regular numbers. In March 1934 the F-20s continued with serial number F3326.

My guess is they had Regular Farmall engines left over that were installed in F-20s. Why let them sit around? Ralph Schaub most likely had an F-20 built in that three-month period.

Jon Chipps, 80424 Seven Mile Ave., Ord, NE 68862

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  • Published on May 1, 2009
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