Experimental Cub Cadet Resurfaces After 40 Years

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Harold Schramm's one-of-a-kind "Cubette" 411, the experimental Cub Cadet.

One of Harold Schramm’s first assignments as an engineer for International Harvester Co. was to design the Cub Cadet’s (then called a “Cubette”) drive train from engine to transaxle.

One of his first working prototypes was installed in the very first experimental, working model Cub Cadet, which was hand-built in early 1960 by the Advanced Projects group at IH’s engineering center in Hinsdale, Ill.

That experimental tractor was tested exhaustively before the design was released to the factory in Louisville, Ky., for production. According to company memos, that particular tractor was one of three experimental models approved to be built at Hinsdale.

David L. Stevenson, however, an IH product test engineer at the time, isn’t certain that IH ever built all three of the experimental models. He only recalls one tractor involved with the program.

Yet, David does remember exactly how this experimental tractor was assigned serial no. 411. In a letter addressed to Harold Schramm dated Feb. 10, 2004, attesting to the rare garden tractor’s authenticity, David wrote the following:

“The tractors and mowers built by Louisville Works had no serial number. We identified them by their Q tag number. When all testing was concluded, some of them were released for sale. They were given a serial number starting with 401 to 410. The Cub Cadet and mower built at the Engineering Center were given the serial number 411, which was stamped on the transmission casting. I personally saw the Q tag removed and the serial number 411 stamped on the transmission casting. The Q tag number was lower than the 10 tractors built at Louisville Works.”

The experimental Cub Cadet was still going strong after the testing phase was completed, so David purchased it from IH for his father-in-law, who had a large lawn at his home near Elk Grove Village, Ill.

After David’s father-in-law passed away, the tractor was stored in a shed at the farm. When the farm sold, David and Harold found the tractor, which had been moved off the farm (without permission) to another location where it was dismantled.

After a bit of wrangling, they retrieved the tractor and its experimental mower. Harold purchased it from David in 2003, and turned its restoration over to Jeremy Hoover of Winamac, Ind.

Some of the notable differences between the 411 tractor and regular-production original Cub Cadets include fenders with square cut ends and outer edges rolled over a metal rod, a lighter, webbed-front axle casting, a less refined and numberless front grille casting and an obviously hand-formed pedestal.

Harold Schramm played an important role in bringing the Cub Cadet to life, and he’s committed to preserving tractor number 411 as an important piece of Cub Cadet history for all to enjoy. FC

Oscar “Hank” Will III is an old-iron collector and restorer who retired from farming in 1999 and from academia in 1996, and author of several books about International Harvester tractors. He is now the editor of Grit magazine.
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