Quest for an 8-16

8-16 Engine

Engine of the 8-16.

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R. D. 9, Box 260, Bridgeton, New Jersey 08302

After many years of admiring old farm equipment, I finally decided to go out and search for an old tractor. In the spring of 1991, I started to research what kind of tractor I would look for. After reading many books and looking through the Encyclopedia of Farm Tractors, I decided it would be an International 8-16 kerosene tractor.

So not knowing where to start, I figured I would start the same place I look for other antiques, at the local flea market. I made a sign that had pictures of old tractors on it, including an 8-16, and rented a spot and put up my sign. Many people who had old tractors inquired, but the equipment was not old enough for me. After a month at no luck, a retired gentleman named Paul Spence, approached me and asked if I had ever seen any antique gas engines with flywheels while looking for tractors, as he too collected them. And if I helped him look, he would help me.

So we exchanged phone numbers and he went on his way. A couple of days later he called and asked if I would like to attend a meeting of the Pine Lands Antique Engine Club.

I went to the meeting and explained that I was looking for an 8-16 International kerosene tractor. I was told my chances were slim to find one locally, and that most members have never even seen one. But I didn't let it get me down.

At the end of June I ran into Paul at the flea market and he had just come from a yard sale that had some old tractors with steel wheels. We jumped in the truck and went over. We talked to the gentleman and he informed me the tractors were F-12 International Farmalls. One had steel wheels, one had cut off steel with rubber tires, and one had NO wheels at all. I really wanted the one on steel, but it was not for sale yet-maybe soon. So I gave him my phone number and went home.

One week later the phone rang, and it was the gentleman with the F-12's. He said come over and let's talk. The twelves weren't what I really wanted, but by now I was getting itchy to work on some old iron. When I got there the gentleman stated that if I wanted the one on steel, I had to take the other two at no extra charge, or nothing at all. Now instead of one tractor, I had three, and still no leads on an 8-16, but lots of old iron.

The end of July came and Paul calls me up and tells me about a gas engine show on the weekend at the Blue Mountain Steam and Gas Engine Club in Bangor, Pennsylvania. I decided I would go and maybe I would get a lead on an 8-16. After talking to many collectors at the show, I was a little more humbled about finding an 8-16.

By now I was really hooked on old iron with three F-12's. I attended quite a few shows and was still on a quest for an 8-16.

Then on Christmas Eve Day, after visiting my father's grave site, I decided to take some back roads home and look for old iron. Only a half mile past the cemetery and an old farm and Jackpot! There in a hedge row an 8-16 and a whole lot more old iron! I went home and called my friend Paul, and we went back. We went up to the farm house and a gentleman came out and we inquired about the old iron. Not for sale, but you're welcome to look around and take pictures, he said.

So we did and found 13 tractors, 2 8-16's, a sawmill, army tank and gas engines, etc.

Disappointed, I went home, and over the winter while reading GEM I saw 2 8-16's at auction, one in Ohio and one in North Carolina, but it was too far to travel.

Then in February I saw an ad for an 8-16 International for sale in Florida. By now I was willing to travel, so I called and inquired. The gentleman said he had many calls but no real interest because the tractor was in Connecticut and all the callers were from Florida. We talked and we got to the price. It was very high, but I decided to go look anyway.

The day came to go and I had gotten Paul to go along. It was cold and had snowed the night before. We set out early that morning for the four hour trip. We got there and talked to Mr. Ruwet and found he had been an IH dealer in the 30s and 40s and had acquired the 8-16 on trade in 1940 for a Farmall H. He considered it obsolete, and put it in the back of the shop and stored it, using it only for parades and such over the years. After what seemed like days, he took us out to see it. It was in very good shape with no rust at all and only missing a few parts. Then we ran it and took it outside and drove it in the snow. I was hooked, but didn't think he would ever negotiate on price because it was so nice. We talked and I made him an offer and then went home.

The next morning, about 10 o'clock, the phone rang and it was Mr. Ruwet and he said 'come and get it.' I couldn't believe it, finally, an 8-16!

The 8-16 is a 1921 serial #IC2547. It was originally purchased in New York and was driven over the road to Connecticut where it was used by a mill for belt power. It was painted red in 1936 and then traded to Ruwet and Sibley IH dealership in Torrington, Connecticut, in 1940 for a Farmall H. It has all original sheet metal and needs the bottom half of the water bath air cleaner and belly sheet metal. I am going to leave it in as-found condition, because of its unique history.

8-16 History

The 8-16 was given life in 1917 and ended in 1922. Three different models were built. The first, from 1917-19, used a three-bearing crankshaft and a 4-25' bore and stroke, with chain drive and a capped air intake. The 1919-21 had all the same features except a two-bearing crank and a water bath air cleaner, and carried an IC prefix. The 1921-22 carried an IC prefix and 4 inch x 5 inch bore and stroke and two-bearing crank. Original selling price was $1150.00. But by 1922 it was dropped to $607.00 and a free two-bottom plow. The reason was because the chain drive would wear out exceptionally fast on the furrow side. The 8-16 had three forward speeds 1, 2 and 4 mph and reverse was 21/3 mph. Rpm's were 1000 and featured an Ensign JK carburetor. There were also many experimental models of the 8-16, including a six-wheel model, a four-wheel drive model, and a crawler type. Excluding the experimental models, a total of 33,148 8-16's were built.

The 8-16s were produced at the Chicago Tractor Works. Enthusiasts of International Harvester products and the I.H. collectors Club share their interests through Red Power Magazine, Box 277, Battlecreek, IA 51006, 712-365-4873 and the I.H. Collector's Club, R.R. #2, Box 286, Winamac, Indiana 46996.