Remembering the Days When Small Tractors Did It All

Sam Moore recalls when a farmer had a single tractor that could handle everything on the farm.

An Allis-Chalmers Model B, which cost $495 at the time (the rough equivalent of $9,100 today), and the A-C Model 40 combine.

When I was a kid during the 1940s, my grandfather owned two adjoining farms in western Pennsylvania totaling about 300 acres. Much of the land was taken up by woods, pastures and orchards, and I suppose we actually raised crops on less than half of that acreage. Most of the farms around ours were probably about 50 to 150 acres.

Virtually every one of those farmers had a single tractor with which they did all the work required, although a few supplemented the tractor with a team of horses. When I think of those tractors, I’m struck by how much work was done with relatively tiny machines, at least when compared to today’s monsters.

The Ford-Ferguson my family acquired in about 1944 with my cousins, Peggy and Chuckie Townsend. This photo was probably by their father, Charles Townsend, who was in partnership with my dad.

I remember a Fordson in the neighborhood, plus a couple of Allis-Chalmers WC’s and several A-C B’s and C’s. One of the larger farmers had horses and a Farmall F-20, which was later replaced by a Farmall C. There was a Farmall H or two and one Farmall A. On our farm, we at first had a McCormick-Deering 10-20 and two teams of horses. A Farmall F-30, which was a big tractor for the area, replaced the 10-20, and sometime during the early ’40s, the horses were replaced by a Ford-Ferguson tractor.

The Farmall F-30 we had on our farm with John Riddle, a hired man, at the wheel. Photo by Peggy Townsend.

11/19/2019 12:20:12 PM

Yep. I was quite young when my Dad bought a very well used Allis Chalmers RC and sold the horses. The mounted mower was a BEAR to mount. Unmount - not so much. Riding out to the field in the winter to hand spread manure daily - Dad couldn't afford a manure spreader. Cultivated, pulled side rake, wagon, plo, etc. The RC had to do it all. Woe be to us if there was a breakdown!


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