THE OLD FARMALL 30

John N. Gallaspy
July/August 1983

Dale Nickerson


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301 Louisiana Ave. Bogalusa, Louisiana 70427

On a clear spring morning the sound of the Farmall 30,as it cranked on gasoline and converted to kerosene, could be heard two miles away. The tractor had been purchased by members of my family in the late 30's to turn under a vetch cover crop that was to rank for a mule drawn disk. It had introduced tractor farming to our community of Pelican, in northwest Louisiana, and had powered everything from a grist mill to a seven foot sickle mower to a three bottom disk breaking plow that it pulled in its highest gear without any noticeable effort.

My Uncle Baker always drove it. He had the physique and strength of a weight lifter, and the old tractor was a good match for him.

It was May 1945, and we were towing a combine, harvesting oats, helping in a small way with the American farmer's task of feeding our people and the allies during the last month; of World War II. For the benefit o International enthusiasts, the combine was a number 62, a pretty heavy model with a four cylinder continental engine mounted on the left side causing the left wheel to carry more weight than the right one. A hired hand was tying the sacks of oats and letting them slide down a ramp to the ground, and another uncle and I were loading the sacks on a pre-war Ford truck.

We were circling a terraced hillside where underground springs sometimes developed, and when we reached the long low strip beneath the last terrace, the heavily loaded truck found one of these wet weather springs and the rear end settled comfortably down to the axle. Uncle Baker pulled the tractor and combine along side us and ran a long logging chain at an angle from the drawbar back to the truck. He started out, towing the truck through the bog, when suddenly the combine found what was probably the same vein of water and its left side went down to its frame. In just seconds the rear of the F-30 sank until its drawbar was well below the ground surface. There was no way to disconnect the combine, and the chain to the truck was tighter than a piano wire.

Then came the engineering, and a fabulous display of pulling power. We chained a large fence post to each of the spoked rear wheels (a dangerous procedure, admittedly, and in no way recommended for novice operators). We all held our breath. There was no other heavy tractor available for miles except a slow moving old International 40 crawler that might not have gotten there for several days, and winch trucks were practically unheard of then. The bogged truck was the only one we had and getting our harvest into the barn before nightfall, and possibly rainfall, depended at that moment of the F-30's manhood.

The tractor went into first gear, the clutch was cautiously released, and the governor opened. The old engine responded with that deep resonant sound the kerosene burner made when they got their second wind, and somehow the tractor pulled itself up out of the hole, at the same time towing the dead weight of the combine and the truck through a tight bottomless mud. Just as the posts came around the back of the tractor the rear wheels hit a slightly firmer turf and Uncle Baker hit the clutch. The fence posts were removed, the transmission went back into low gear, and the F-30 patiently rolled forward, lifting both combine and truck out of the mire. Pound for pound, it was the most incredible display of power I have ever seen.

I recently visited this land with my father, and he showed me where a huge oil field truck loaded with pipe had lately hit this same spring and had sunk until only the pipe and top of the cab were visible. It took all the modern technology and power to retrieve the truck. I remarked then that Mother Nature's emplacements (the spring) endure endlessly, from one generation until another, as long as man's bumbling antic's don't disrupt them.

I still use this old tractor and am enclosing a recent photo showing my son Whit driving it. He is the third generation to perform useful work with this tractor. To my thinking, the F Series Farmall's have never been equaled when it comes to balance, durability and economy. While most of these old machines have gone the way of the cross cut saw and the small row crop farm, they were giants in their day. Mechanized farming was in its sturdy youth then, and those of us who grew up along with it will always enjoy exchanging these pleasurable reminiscences.


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