The new generation of IHC Red Tractors featured an all-new square look and unique technology.
Red Tractors 1958-2013 (Octane Press, 2013) is an authoritative and unparalleled look at the tractors built by International Harvester Company and Case IH. Author Lee Klancher leads a research team that has collected more than 380 pages and 700 images, documenting these beloved machines built in America and abroad. In this six-part series, Farm Collector shares the first chapter of Red Tractors, "1958-1959 The Hinsdale Connection". In this, the third part of the series, International Harvester Company introduces the next generation of farm machines, the 40 and 60 series tractors.
You can purchase this book from the Farm Collector store: Red Tractors 1958-2013.
In 1953, Mark Keeler became the head of the Agricultural Engineering Division for Harvester. One of the first things he did was to go on a fact-finding trip with product specialist M.O. Curvey. The two men visited several dealers to learn what they wanted to see in the next generation of International Harvester tractors. The answer from the first dealer they visited—Andy Anderson in Harvard, Illinois—was pretty straightforward: Anderson told them he wanted improved operator comfort and convenience.
After five years of hard work building IH’s next generation of new machines, Keeler and Curvey returned to Harvard in 1958 to offer the town a sneak preview of the new International Harvester tractor. Months before the official world introduction, Anderson removed the paper that shielded the tractor from prying eyes and drove it straight down Main Street in Harvard.
Harvester had planted cameramen from Harvester World magazine on the street and rooftops to catch the crowd’s reaction. The resulting article reported that one gentleman was so taken by the new tractor that he walked into a utility pole (the cameramen saved him embarrassment by not capturing that scene). Men and women gathered around to look the tractor over, to sit in the seat, and to start it up.
Comments focused on the comfortable new seat, the smooth new engine, and the revised control layout. The styling was improved, with redesigned lines avoiding the “Christmas tree” look of the previous models . Curvey admitted that there weren’t a lot of new pieces in the transmission (except for the relocated hydraulic pump), but the farmer who asked said that he had never heard of a farmer having problems with an IH transmission or differential anyway. Soon, the tractor was back on the truck, rewrapped in its paper disguise and on its way back into hiding until the new line’s official July 1958 introduction.
The assembly line changeover to the new models went very smoothly, and the dealer introductions held at the new engineering facility (and old Harvester Farm) in Hinsdale, Illinois, generated a tremendous amount of enthusiasm and orders. A large number of tractors went out the door very quickly.
And then the problems started.
While the model appeared to have an old rear end mated to a new engine, in fact there were a lot of not-so-apparent upgrades and advances under the skin. Though the tractors had been extensively tested, what appears to be a last-minute horsepower upgrade caused differential failures when the tractor was operated in areas with limited traction slip. In addition, IH had modified metallurgy to eliminate the traditional time allowed to age castings and normalize stresses, resulting in tractors with castings that changed shape ever so slightly after some use. The hydraulic system used the transmission as a reservoir, leading to issues with lubricant contamination and life. (This latter problem eventually drove the development of IHC’s famous Hy-Tran transmission fluid.) The four-cylinder 240 and 340 would go through some evolutions in their hydraulic control system to improve performance.
IHC eventually fixed the issues and the tractors still serve farmers today.
For 1958, the entire IHC line was updated. One of the least changed was the smallest of the lot. The Farmall Cub received a new grille, but the rest of the machine was pretty much unchanged. Even the early advertising for the 1958-style Cub referenced the 1956 test. Rated horsepower on the belt was 10.5, with drawbar horsepower coming in at 9.4 from the 60-cubic-inch gasoline engine.
The Cub was available with a “high and wide” attachment to increase crop clearance and also width. This attachment was available from the factory but could be ordered for older tractors, too.
Industrial dealerships offered the Cub as the International Cub. The International differed mainly in its model designation and nameplates, and its industrial features were in fact optional on the Farmall version.
The low-profile International Cub Lo-Boy offered a lower center of gravity and height to enable it to fit into tight spots. The tractor proved very popular for mowing and for applications where the tractor had to be driven into older buildings. It was powered by the same C-60 engine as the Farmall Cub, the major difference being the front axle and the rear-axle housing, which was mounted on an angle instead of straight up and down.
The Farmall 140 replaced the Farmall 130, mainly updating the sheet metal of the 40-60 series. The 140 retained the carbureted C-123 engine, and the tractor remained popular with farmers planting crops one row at a time and thus needing precision cultivation. It was also a maneuverable chore tractor.
The International 140 was the industrial version, its true difference being nameplates and decals that allowed sale through IH’s industrial dealerships. While the industrials usually had square front axles, foot accelerators, and yellow paint, the Farmall 140 could be ordered with those options, as well (in fact, for a fee, both tractors were available in any paint the customer wanted). The 140 proved popular with highway departments and other operators performing mowing and grounds maintenance, and also as a small towing tractor.
The Farmall 140 High Clearance filled a need for producers of high-value crops, or crops that used bedding in single rows and would have brushed up against the bottom of the regular-height Farmall 140. They were popular with nurseries and truck farmers.
The Farmall 240 was the two-plow tractor of the new line, inheriting the role of the Farmall 230 with essentially the same 123-cubic-inch gas engine. A Hydra-Touch hydraulic system with an optional Tel-A-Depth depth control and new sheet metal were major features of these new tractors. Sales were not strong, however, due to most row-crop farms progressing toward higher horsepower and a large number of older two-row tractors still available.
The International 240 was a new market segment for IH: a small utility tractor. Compact dimensions and a layout that was easy to climb on and off helped yield sales considerably stronger than the Farmall version with the same C-123 engine and essentially the same driveline.
The Farmall 340 was a three-plow tractor. While not a new size, it was a new platform with a C-135 engine and a driveline with a Torque Amplifier, Hydra-Touch hydraulics with Tel-A-Depth control, two- or three-point hitches, and four-row cultivator capability.
Designed to mount a one-row cotton harvester, the Farmall 340 Cotton Harvester had higher clearance to accommodate the cotton plants, which were gone through several times as the bolls ripened.
The International 340 replaced the International 330 of the previous line. The 240, of course had the new C-125 engine, but with its intended driveline—a small maneuverable one with a Torque Amplifier to give it more speed options than in previous small tractors. The International 340’s small dimensions and maneuverable chassis, with the C-135 engine, were well suited for smaller orchard and grove operators, and IH produced the International 340 Grove with shields for those users.
The International 340 Industrial was a relabeled International 340. The tractor had a different grille and was usually packaged with industry-friendly options like a heavier front axle and a foot accelerator, although those options were also available on the International 340. FC
Read more from Red Tractors 1958-2013 in:
• International Harvester Company Reveals Return of the Large Tractor at Burr Ridge Farm
• International 460 Ushers in New Era for International Harvester Company
• The International 460 and the Evolution of Red Tractors
• The Farmall M and the Red Tractors of Great Britain
• International Harvester Invests in Germany
• IHC and McCormick Deering: The Red Tractors of France
• Red Tractors Down Under: International Harvester Company of Australia
Reprinted with permission from Red Tractors 1958-2013: The Authoritative Guide to International Harvester and Case-IH Farm Tractors in the Modern Era by Lee Klancher and published by Octane Press, 2013. Buy the book from our store: Red Tractors 1958-2013.