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Uncovering the Magic Of NW Iowa’s Classic Tractors

By Tom Seest

What Makes The Northwest Iowa Classic Tractors So Special?

At ClassicTractorNews, we help classic tractor lovers keep up with the latest news for classic and vintage tractors.

This year’s event celebrated vintage tractors and other agricultural equipment from the 1970s or before, open to anyone with access to one.
Classic tractor markets remain strong (if not growing slightly – low-hours 4440s are still fetching top dollar). Short lead times on new equipment make old iron attractive to farmers who appreciate its short availability timeframes.

What Makes The Northwest Iowa Classic Tractors So Special?

What Makes The Northwest Iowa Classic Tractors So Special?

Uncovering the Secrets of the 1903 Hart & Parr Model

Clay County Fair offers more than just state-of-the-art farm equipment; for many, it also marks an opportunity to step back in time thanks to an antique tractor club such as Northwest Iowa Classic Tractor Club, which displays vintage machines each year at the fair.
Charles Hart and Charles Parr were engineering students at the University of Wisconsin who invented the first gasoline-powered tractors in 1903. Their creation bridged the gap between monstrous steam traction engines that weighed over 10,000 pounds but could only move 2 to 3 mph and modern, smaller gasoline tractors that promised even faster work output.
Hart-Parr tractors were an alternative to steam engines, which needed firewood, coal, and water as fuel sources; their operation required gasoline only and burned less than a gallon per hour of operation while offering greater speed, maneuverability, and control than steam engines did. Hart-Parr claimed their tractors reduced operating costs by half while eliminating labor requirements altogether – saving farmers three-fourths of their daily wages!
Hart-Parr’s initial models were large prairie breakers featuring cylinders up to 7 inches in bore and 13 inches in stroke and producing 18-30 horsepower, but as time progressed, they began focusing on more practical, smaller machines suitable for use across various applications such as blacksmith shops, creameries, elevators, restaurants, country residences as well as feed mills and isolated electric lighting plants.
By 1914, the firm had manufactured the Little Devil reversible gas-powered tractor. Without valves or transmission, its operation relied on up-and-down piston motion in its cylinder walls, while geared engine delivery drove directly from its single rear wheel onto its single front axle, allowing it to turn short turns, work under trees, or get close to fences without losing speed or control.
Hart-Parr’s Little Devil proved an unmitigated flop, and production was discontinued two years later, although Hart-Parr continued developing and marketing compact tractors until their 1929 merger with Oliver Chilled Plow Company led them to produce and market more compact models, including their inaugural row crop tractor, known as Oliver-Hart-Parr Model #15.

Uncovering the Secrets of the 1903 Hart & Parr Model

Uncovering the Secrets of the 1903 Hart & Parr Model

Unlock the Power of a 1959 John Deere 430 Crawler?

Loren Van Regenmorter purchases more used tractors than new ones these days, as his business requires cutting more alfalfa acres than his family could five years ago, requiring larger machinery with greater horsepower to do the work faster and reduce labor needs on rural farms. When his local Deere dealer showed him the 8370R model, Loren knew it was time for an upgrade.
Deere’s Waterloo plant boasts an automated system that transports tractor components from one assembly line station to the next, marking and scanning parts based on customer orders before marrying them together for final assembly of an assembled tractor.
A retired Deere worker led the tour and explained how each tractor is built specifically to order for individual farmers or dealerships – each tractor being marked according to its order so the company can track its progress through production, thus decreasing waste and increasing efficiency.
Deere & Company made headlines in 1949 when it unveiled the Model R, their first tractor with four and six-cylinder engines and featuring a live independent power take-off (PTO) clutch for lifting equipment at the touch of a lever and its hydraulic system PowrTrol that could provide up to 1,800 pounds per square inch pressure.
The new 5103 series tractors feature a distinct color scheme from its predecessors; prior to 2007, 5103 series tractors were painted black, while current machines were green. This change also saw changes to horsepower ratings; current machines boast 50hp (37.3 kilowatts). Due to this difference in hue and horsepower ratings, this version of the tractor is also known as “black bellies,” although its bodywork remains green.

Unlock the Power of a 1959 John Deere 430 Crawler?

Unlock the Power of a 1959 John Deere 430 Crawler?

Can the 1978 International 986 Revive Northwest Iowa’s Classic Tractor Legacy?

The International 986 is a two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive row-crop tractor built between 1976 and 1981 by International Harvester (IH) Diesel. It has a 180 cubic inch (3 L), six cylinder, bore x stroke of 109×127 engine with partial powershift Torque Amplifier transmission featuring 16 forward gears and eight reverse gears – ideal for general farm or field tractors; center hydraulic system included, liquid-cooled engine.
This year’s Fall Premier vintage tractor auction will take place November 11-13 at Bend XPO venue on the Mississippi River in East Moline, Illinois. Featured will be 400 vintage tractors, 100 vintage trucks, and 375 lots of Road Art for inspection and purchase on-site – 17 private tractor collections have already consigned their collections for this sale!
Loren Van Regenmorter, a 62-year-old farmer from Sioux Center, Iowa, has not allowed the harvest downturn to deter him from purchasing new machinery to help cut his alfalfa acres. Larger equipment requires fewer workers in rural Iowa, where labor shortages often exist.
Van Regenmorter has long been an avid collector of antique engines and tractors, including IH and John Deere models. Recently he visited Deere’s Waterloo plant where he was impressed with their manufacturing process and commitment to quality.
IH’s Agricultural Division was established in 1902 but did not begin producing its own equipment until 1928. Prior to that date, they purchased and rebranded numerous smaller competitors like Parlin & Orendorff Plow (P&O Plow), Chattanooga Plow, and Keystone Plow – although those three brands still exist today!
As the company expanded, a need for an easier system of numbering their tractors became evident. A straightforward numbering scheme was adopted: the first 2-3 digits represented horsepower rating while two later ones designated a number of cylinders. By combining these numbers easily, a buyer could quickly determine power output while at a dealership. This simple numbering system remained in use until 1964, when the 88 Series was introduced.

Can the 1978 International 986 Revive Northwest Iowa's Classic Tractor Legacy?

Can the 1978 International 986 Revive Northwest Iowa’s Classic Tractor Legacy?

Unlock the Power of the 1932 Keck-Gonnerman 30-60 N?

At this past weekend’s 2021 Mecum Gone Farmin’ Fall Premier auction, collector tractor enthusiasts‘ pent-up demand showed no sign of abating, with top lots bringing more than $8 million combined in total sales. Attended by an estimated daily attendance of 6,000 visitors at East Moline’s New Bend XPO Center along the Mississippi River over three days.
John and Brenda Hoffman’s collection of classic tractors was in the spotlight at this auction, including their unique 1932 Keck-Gonnerman 30-60 N (Lot F49). Other notable steel-wheel tractors include an Aultman & Taylor 30-60 N with rear wheel extensions, their 1928 Keck-Gonnerman 25-50 ZW from their Poppin’ Johnnies Antique Power Club collection, as well as J. B. Love’s 1937 Waterloo Boy N tractor from his estate.
Apart from tractors, this sale featured many interesting pieces of equipment and literature – including an original IHC dealer parts hat, an authentic Indiana Tractors catalog featuring orchard model scenes, Gaar-Scott line steam gauge, and Rumely Oil Pull 30-50 Y (Lot F49).
J. B. Love constructed this Tructor Tractor from Ford Model B engine, transmission and rear end components for use both in the field as well as traveling at up to 40 MPH on roads. Now fully restored it makes a real statement!
Another noteworthy item is a 1928 Keck-Gonnerman Indiana Special Thresher with stylish decals and stenciling, in great mechanical condition and ready for action behind your prairie tractor.
Other equipment on display included a Case disc plow, and an original Massey Harris plow in excellent working condition; both would make great additions to any collection. Furthermore, there was also a Rumely oil-pull pressure gauge and Keck-Gonnerman Indiana special plow guide available – plus there was an assortment of tools, books, and miscellaneous accessories for sale!

Unlock the Power of the 1932 Keck-Gonnerman 30-60 N?

Unlock the Power of the 1932 Keck-Gonnerman 30-60 N?

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