Recovering a Whirlwind Terracer

An antique Whirlwind terracer was the perfect answer to a farm's furrow-making needs.

| April 2015

Extensive rainwater harvesting efforts several years ago on the Trew Ranch found need for a plow to make small, cow-trail-like furrows in grass turf to guide rainwater into collection areas. Such work by the ranch D6 bulldozer destroyed too much grass and the large dirt terraces were not needed. We had a nice-sized Kubota rubber-tired tractor, but no plow to pull.

At this deduction, childhood memories of the 1940s came to me. Dad had purchased a Whirlwind terracer to build dirt terraces on our dryland farm near Perryton, Texas. The machine had a single 18-inch moldboard to loosen the soil and a vertical auger, like a post hole auger, that picked up plowed soil and tossed it various distances depending on the speed of the auger. If such a plow could be found and restored at a reasonable price, it would fit the need nicely.

An ad in the High Plains Journal revealed several Whirlwinds available, most in “junkyard” condition, but believed to be in working condition, or at least they were when parked more than 40 years ago. A deal was made with Calvin Beckman, Lenora, Kansas, to purchase a well-used Whirlwind off his farm north of Hill City, Kansas. We met his son, Lonnie, who loaded the old plow on our trailer and we proceeded home for restoration.

A thorough cleaning with a wire brush found all grease zirks taking grease and all parts working and turning freely. New 600-16 tires and tubes, a couple of welds, both hitch and PTO updating, a new coat of paint and the old plow was ready to spin again.

The serial number tag showed that the plow (model IH, serial no. 4609) was built by Service Equipment Co., Dallas, Texas. This information led to research on the internet. Service Equipment was organized in 1930 to maintain equipment owned by Austin Bridge Co. Later, the new company began to manufacture construction equipment.

In 1945, after World War II ended, Service began to manufacture farm equipment, building the first tractor-mounted rotary stalk shredder mounted on the front of a tractor, allowing a disc plow to be pulled behind. Among many “first time” inventions introduced by the company were 3-point mounted grader blades, shredders, a box scraper and the Whirlwind terracer.