Industrial Design Beauties
From Down on the Farm
Farmall tractors were made by the International Harverster company from the 1920’s to the 1970’s. They were designed by a renowned industrial designer named Raymond Fernand Loewy. Besides art deco inspired farm equipment, Loewy, who was born in France also inked the distinctly American lines of the Shell Gasoline logo, the Greyhound bus, the Lucky Strike cigarette pack and the Studebaker Avanti and train locomotives.
Farmalls were general-purpose tractors built to be affordable for small to medium-sized family farms. During the 1940s and 1950s, the brand was ubiquitous in North American farming, it’s bright red color serving as distinctive and easily recognizable badge. Farmalls remain in service, others are restored and avidly collected by enthusiasts.
In late 1939, the famous Letter series of Farmall tractors began, starting with the letter “A,” as seen above. Loewy gave the new Farmall general-purpose tractors a sleek new streamlined look. The smallest of the line, the 'A', utilized the company's Culti-Vision offset engine/front end design, along with a wide front wheel track and dropped axles.
Although considered a small tractor, the A was strong enough to accommodate a variety of attachements including tillers and mowers as seen here and below. Inernational harverster aimed at producing a model for every size of farm and every need. The Farmall A, B, BN and the later C offered compact size; the H and M series provided extra plowing capability and power, while the Model H proved most popular with customers.
What became known as the “Farmall Letter Series,” was built from extra sturdy components and became the defining product line in the history of the IH brand. The iconic look of the machines provided a visual touchstone of the small American farmer and his equipment. The larger model Farmalls are still at work on farms today.
The B, as seen here was the same as the A except for the front end which employed the narrow, tricycle type front wheel. The engine and drive train were placed along the centerline of the tractor. IH also produced the innovative the “MD” Farmall which came with a diesel engine that started up on gasoline, then switched over to diesel when thoroughly warmed up.
In 1947, Farmall introduced, the Cub the smallest model in the line. It came standard with a 60 cu. in. four-cylinder engine and a 69-inch wheelbase. The Cub was targeted at small farms where teams of horses were beign used to do the heavy lifting. Cubs were built in Louisville, Kentucky at a former Curtiss-Wright Aircraft factory. They originally sold for $545.00 and remained in production until 1979.
The Torque Amplifier (TA), was introduced on the Super M model in 1954. It featured an extra low-range gear ratio that allowed the farmer to downshift without using the clutch to gain torque at the drive wheels. The TA model was then called Super M-TA. The TA became a popular option on all model 300 and larger tractors after 1955.
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