Albert Eshelman on the IHC Titan 45 Tractor

Raleigh Woltmann interviews Albert Eshelman about finding the unusual IHC Titan 45 Tractor and how he dug it from a ditch to restore it to its original glory.

Cooling Tank

Photo courtesy of Roger L. Eshelman, College Springs, Iowa.


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Raleigh Woltmann interviews Albert Eshelman about his restoration of the IHC Titan 45 Tractor. 

In the September/October issue of the G.E.M. I promised a written copy of a tape recording made the day an old IHC Titan "45" tractor was started after being buried 30 to 35 years in a ditch.

We found later we had made a mistake in calling this Titan "45" a "30-60". The "45" was manufactured from 1910 to 1913. After 1913 a few changes were made and it was called a "30-60". We have been told that this tractor had been sent back to the factory a few years after it was manufactured for some repair, changes, and additions. This could have been some of the changes the "45" underwent in becoming the "30-60" in 1913. The following is the tape recording. I have edited in spots for easier reading without disturbing the content.

Raleigh Woltmann: Hello there, this is Raleigh Woltmann. I am here at Elliott, Iowa. This is March 27th, 1966 on one of the side streets of Elliott along side of Albert Eshelman's shop. I have Mr. Eshelman here to visit in regards to a phenomenon of tractor restoration centered around a "30-60" ("45") Titan; isn't that right Albert? 

Albert Eshelman: Yes.

Raleigh: Albert, where did you learn of this unusual tractor and where did you find it? 

Albert: I had learned about it about 2 1/2 years ago at Emerson, Iowa. Two good friends of mine. Quentin and John Shultz, went down with me and we looked this over and they insisted that I go to work on it and get this tractor out of the ditch; this ditch that it had been buried in for 30 to 35 years. It was in the bottom of the ditch. We went to work on it with a lot of effort and it took us almost a week to figure out how we could get this out of the ditch. We tried different pieces of heavy machinery including a back hoe, which wasn't very successful, and we also used a TD 18 IHC and we finally ended up with a large wrecker from Griswold, Iowa, Mr. Kinsers, and a dragline we had to dig it out of the ground.

Raleigh: With that lengthy story undoubtedly you can see that Albert here has run into a lot of work and cost to bring this thing up to surface and as I can imagine that drawing this from mucky ground that this was buried in that there was a lot of work in cleaning and restoring this, wasn't there Mr. Eshelman? 

Albert: Well, after I had gotten it out of the ditch I had decided to go no further. It looked pretty near impossible, but as I said before, my friends encouraged me on again to try to make it run; and that is what we are going to do here today. As soon as we are over with this little recording we're going to try to start this tractor right here on the grounds, after 2 years of hard work restoring it.

Raleigh: By the way we have just become acquainted with Cloid McDowell. He is quite certain he is one of the few men and maybe the only man living who had anything to do with this tractor in its hayday. 

Cloid: That's right. It looks very natural since he has it rebuilt and painted . . . . The last time I operated this tractor was in 1919 and as far as I knew it could have been junked or not used since then. I never kept track of it; but I know that the last time I ran it was in 1919 for Mr. Honeyman who passed away several years ago.

Raleigh: Mr. McDowell has disclosed to me that he worked for the Honeyman family almost 50 years ago, before he was married, and he will celebrate his Golden Wedding Anniversary next year and that was back in . . . 

Cloid: That was in 1916 and I ran this in the fall of 1919, three years after I was married. I worked for him in 1910 and worked for his mother, Mrs. Ella Honeyman, in 1911 and 1912 and I've been around the Honey-mans for years, I guess there is only one left now and that's Lawrence. I haven't seen him here yet today but he's to be around somewhere.

Raleigh: And Mr. Honeyman bought this tractor used you recall, to refresh your memories. 

Cloid: I think it was a used tractor when he got it, yes. Far as I know it was. I don't believe he bought it new. That's been quite a while ago and if a fellow don't remember that stuff and pay much attention to it . . . but I'm sure glad to see it again in the shape it is in now. It really looks better now than it did when I used to run it — course it is cleaned up now and everything painted up and it looks real good.

Raleigh: Mr. McDowell, at that time it was probably one of the few and maybe the only tractor of its kind in the neighborhood. What is your recollection. 

Cloid: Only of that size. It was the biggest tractor in the country at that time.

Raleigh: Did the Honeymans ever plow with this tractor? 

Cloid: No, I don't think there ever was a plow hooked on it, not as I remember. He got a plow tractor afterwards but he never did use this one. It was used for threshing only. . . He ran it on a fodder shredder some too. He had a shredder. He shredded fodder and that took quite a bit of power too.

Raleigh: Without a doubt these early tractors were probably more successful for belt work for the fact they had horse power to draw something but nothing to power a belt to a pulley threshing machine, shredder and the saw mills . . . Well, I think we've taken a fair amount of time now and Mr. Eshelman has designated 2:30 pm for the official starting of this tractor after the 2 years of restoration. He has invited neighbors and friends from a long ways off that are in this type of antique restoration and they have responded to his call. I would estimate from 200 to 300 people here today that are deeply and directly interested in this piece of work. 

Cloid: It's really interesting to me to see this kind of rig back where it will run again and they should preserve this. It's something that should be kept. There hain't very many of this kind in the country that I know of . . . . It's quite a piece of work I'll tell you, to pull that out of the mud and clean it up and make it look like it will run . . . and I think it will too. We're going to try it in just a little bit.

Raleigh: I don't believe there is any doubt about it at all. The amazing thing is that a tractor built 50 years ago laid idle, buried and could be made to run . . . . Well we've been reminiscing here and like I said, it's past the 2:30 mark and we've given Mr. Eshelman the okay to start this tractor . . . . Now we will wait for the first puff of — maybe that isn't the right word — the first explosion that will come from this engine that has been silent for 30 years or more . . . . Putt, Putt, Putt, Putt, Putt . . . . (The sound of the Briggs and Stratton starting engine.) 

Raleigh: Mr. Eshelman has replaced the air cooled engine. It is not original. It is gear driven to a fiber pulley that runs on the flywheel face. Bang! — Bang! (Backfire of the Titan engine). 

Cloid: Well she shot twice didn't she! Putt, Putt, Putt, Putt, Putt . . . . (The Briggs and Stratton starting again.) CH, CH, CH, CH, CH, sss, sss, sss, sss CH, CH, CH, CH, sss, sss, sss, sss, sss, CH, CH, CH, CH, CH, CH, CH, CH, The Titan "45" running under her own power. (A burst of applause from the crowd.)

Cloid: That's remarkable! That thing going like it is a being in the mud hole that long. CH, CH, CH, sss, sss, sss, sss, CH, CH, CH.

Raleigh: To me, I've restored cars, and this engine is performing better than I had expected it to; starting it for the first time. He seems to have it timed very well; apparently it is carburation that needs adjusting. CH, CH, CH, CH, CH, sss, sss, sss, CH, CH, CH. 

Raleigh: It's amazing the smoothness it runs! CH, CH, CH, CH, sss, sss, sss, CH, CH, CH, CH, CH, CH, sss, sss, sss. 

After the foundry went out of business a farmer bought it and mounted it on a saw rig. When I got it, nine months ago, the farmer hadn't used it for 10 or 15 years and had been sitting outside all this time. But it was in good shape, except for the fact that it was so rusty. It runs very good now.

That is the end of the tape recording. I want to add that the carburetor was changed and that the Titan "45" runs very good now, and moves under her own power. Albert Eshelman has 5 children, 2 girls and 3 boys, and I want to speak for all of them; Well done Dad! I might also add that we were all on hand for the starting of the tractor.

The following pictures are of the old Titan "45" from the initial digging to the finished product. To anyone coming through this area, please feel free to stop in at Elliott, Iowa and see this tractor.

Mr. Eshelman uncovering the cooling tank of the Titan. The tank was removed to decrease the weight of the tractor.

Threshing beans on Raymond Hyatt farm, west of Napoleon, Michigan, fall 1963. 20-40 Oil pull built in 1918. Pitts beaner built in 1906. Leonard James on the engine, and Robert James feeding the separator.

The Titan as it appeared after removal. A muddy mess! ! !

The tractor on the bank of the ditch after removal from the hole in the foreground. Notice the deep ruts in the mud made by the wheels. Here you can get an idea of how deep the tractor was buried.

Mr. Eshelman in the process of removing the pistons. Maybe this is hard to believe but the original piston rings were used.

Mr. Eshelman standing between the wheel and the gearing. Gears and other parts hand scraped and sand blasted.

Replacing the flywheel-crankshaft assembly. The weight of this assembly was almost 1 1/2 tons.

The finished product being pulled from the shop for the first starting.

The Titan "45' under her own power in August 1966 at the Elliott Fall Festival.

My Starite, 4 1/2 hp engine, S.N. 694, speed 300 RPM with a bore of 5 1/2 and stroke of 7 feet. It has a hit and miss governor and is fired with battery and vibrator coil to a spark plug.

This picture should be in color to show the gaudy colors it is painted, as the flywheels are bright red and the rest is peacock green. These are the original colors.

This engine was used to drive the blower of a foundry at Sauk City, Wisconsin until 1912 when it went out of business. When it was new - the date of manufacture — I have never been able to find out.