Farm Jeeps at Work

Author Photo
By Barry Thomas | Mar 3, 2020

1. Many of the Jeeps shown at a rally held annually in Ohio feature more than one tool. This 1954 Model 3B Jeep is equipped with a Newgren hydraulic lift with a rare Newgren scoop. The scoop itself is an even rarer reversible model. Inside the scoop is a PTO powered hydraulic system supplying power to a hydraulic chainsaw. Photo courtesy Barry Thomas.

2. Here a 1954 Model CJ3B Jeep is powering a two-man hydraulic chainsaw. Power for hydraulic, air and electric tools could be made available anywhere on the farm with pumps, compressors and generators powered by the Jeep’s PTO. Photo courtesy Barry Thomas.

3. John Ittel’s first “car” at age 16 was a 1947 Model CJ2A Jeep (equipped with a PTO) that he used on the family farm. He’s had firsthand experience with these machines. Like many farmers in the second half of the 20th century, John operated a farm business and worked a full-time job. He still managed to have time to restore a few antique tractors and owned a couple of Jeeps. In 1985, an ad for a 1946 Farm Jeep started him on the road to his outstanding collection of these farm machines. Photo courtesy John Ittel.

4. The same 1954 Model 3B Jeep powering the hydraulic chainsaw is equipped with a rare Koenig crankshaft winch restored by John. He fabricated the winch boom based on a 1940s ad. The crankshaft winch was useful when the PTO was otherwise in use, as in this case where it is powering the hydraulic pump for the chainsaw. Photo courtesy John Ittel.

5. “Anyone who can drive a car can drive a Jeep!” proclaims an early ad, implying in the accompanying photo that a tractor was a complicated affair with lots of levers and dual brakes. This view of the seven levers in the John’s 1954 Model 3B Jeep equipped with the Koenig crankshaft winch might give pause as to which was the more perplexing. From the top: control lever for the Hy-Lo pump controlling the Newgren lift, two winch controls, transfer case (high, neutral and low range), 4WD/2WD, PTO and main transmission shifter. Photo courtesy John Ittel.

6. Willys sold “Jeep approved” lifts, but many other small companies also produced hydraulic lifts. The “Farm-Aid” hydraulic lift is featured in a silent promotional film available on DVD that shows the lift in operation. John’s collection includes other types of implement lifts designed for the Jeep. These lifts did not use the Ford/Ferguson 3-point implements, but as other tractor manufacturers had to do, relied on lift-specific implements. This lift is installed in a 1946 Model CJ2A Jeep. Photo courtesy Barry Thomas.

7. A young fan tries his hand at operating a 1960 CJ5 Jeep equipped with a backhoe. The Ohio demonstration offers visitors a chance to ask questions and learn of the many ways Jeeps worked on the farm. Photo courtesy Barry Thomas.

In July 1945, Willys-Overland introduced the civilian version of the famous World War II military vehicle known as the “jeep.” Changes to the military vehicle were made so that the new model CJ2A “Universal Jeep” would be the ideal farm machine.

With the optional engine governor, PTO and 3-point hydraulic lift, the Jeep became a tractor, matching the horsepower and using the same implements as the Ford 9/2/8N series tractors. The Jeep could be a mobile power unit, supplying power via the PTO for belt or shaft work. It could serve as a pickup truck, or, with the addition of a back seat, haul the family to church at highway speeds and in any kind of weather. It was everything the small farmer needed.

While some have suggested that the Farm Jeep was a short-lived, failed attempt to produce a tractor, they missed the nearly two-decade saga of this wonder machine. Luckily, the story of the Jeep has been kept alive through many Farm Jeep collectors.

1. This early 1946 Model CJ2A Jeep is equipped with dual wheels and a Monroe hydraulic lift, manufactured by Monroe Auto Equipment Co., Monroe, Mich. Monroe, the famous shock absorber producer, introduced the lift in 1948 and manufactured it until about 1956. It was replaced by the Stratton lift as the last “Jeep Approved” lift. The Jeep is also equipped with a Willys-Overland cab. These cabs were only produced for a year or two. Many other companies, including Sears, Roebuck & Co., sold cabs. Willys seems to have left the manufacturing of cabs, as they did hydraulic lifts, to others. Photo courtesy John Ittel.

2. From shelling, to grinding, to mixing feed corn, Jeeps provided power for farm tools. Even those who aren’t Jeep fans will enjoy seeing belt-driven farm equipment at the demonstration. Here we see a 1946 Model CJ2A Jeep in the foreground and a 1953 Model CJ3A Jeep doing belt and shaft work. Photo courtesy John Ittel. 

3. This beautiful example of a Stratton hydraulic lift with post hole digger was once part of an art exhibit at the University of Toledo Art Museum. The Stratton lift was patented in the early 1960s at the end of the Farm Jeep era and is installed on a 1953 Model CJ3B. In the background is another of John’s Jeeps with a unique 3-point lift. Like the Newgren and Stratton lifts, these underbody lifts left the bed free for hauling cargo or passengers. The white Jeep is a 1964 Model CJ5 with a homemade 3-point underbody lift. Photo courtesy Barry Thomas.

4. In this plowing demonstration, a 1963 CJ5 Model Jeep is equipped with a Newgren 3-point hydraulic lift and pulls a Newgren plow. Both lift and plow date to about 1946, but they work perfectly on later model Jeeps. John has examples of all the “Jeep Approved” lifts that used what are now standard 3-point implements. Any of the “Jeep Approved” lifts would fit any of the post-World War II Jeep models, including the CJ2A, CJ3A, CJ3B, CJ5 and CJ6. Photo courtesy Barry Thomas.

5. A 1946 Model CJ2A Jeep equipped as a mobile welding unit. The Jeep’s PTO could power welders, air compressors and generators wherever they were needed. The Jeep was a true “transformer,” able to change from a tractor to a pickup and even a portable welding shop. Photo courtesy Barry Thomas.

6. John, operating his 1956 model CJ5 “Jeep-A-Trench” trenching machine. These machines were used by farmers and contractors to install drainage tiles and water lines and even dig foundations. Photo courtesy Barry Thomas.

7. While the iconic Jeep “flat fender” body style is familiar to many, this display model shows how “Jeep power” worked. Visitors can clearly see how the Jeep’s PTO operated (shown here powering an elevator). The Jeep offered the farmer three PTO points: rear, middle and front. A true mobile power unit, the Jeep’s 4-wheel drive off-road and 2-wheel drive highway capabilities made it the “Workhorse of the Farm.” Photo courtesy Barry Thomas.

John Ittel, College Corner, Ohio, has several Farm Jeeps that cover the many Jeep models available to farmers from 1945 to 1970. Each spring, he puts his collection, along with Jeeps from friends’ collections, on display. At the show, the Farm Jeeps go to work, with each Jeep powering a piece of farm equipment.

This Farm Jeeps demonstration is held the first weekend of June each year as part of the Willys Jeep Rally (http://www.mw-willysjeep.com). The rally is held next door to John’s farm at the Hueston Woods State Park Lodge in College Corner. Shuttle trams carry visitors to see a dozen or so Farm Jeeps in action plowing, powering a hydraulic two-man chainsaw, and digging post holes and trenches. From there, you can watch a Jeep at work with just about every tool on the farm, from grain elevators and mixers to welders. Walking around the display is like walking around a museum with live-action exhibits.

While many of the Jeeps are equipped with “Jeep Approved” hydraulic lifts (meaning they were installed at the factory or by the dealer) transforming this unique vehicle into a tractor, John also has rare and unusual models. His Farm-Aid hydraulic lift may be one of the few (or even the only) remaining working example. 

The vehicles with the various “Jeep Approved” hydraulic lifts used standard 3-point implements that were introduced in 1939 with the Ford 9N. Following World War II, a farmer wanting a tractor with a 3-point system could purchase a Ford, a Ferguson or a Jeep. But the Jeep offered the farmer so much more than just a 2-bottom plow tractor. If you take today’s compact utility tractor and crossed it with a UTV or side-by-side off-road vehicle, you would get the Universal Jeep. Perhaps it was just ahead of its time. FC

For more information: email John Ittel at turfgrower1@gmail.com.

For more information on the Farm Jeep and to read more about John and his Jeep story, visit www.farmjeep.com. Barry Thomas and his son Evan have run the Farm Jeep website since 2002. Contact him at barry@farmjeep.com

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