Giant of the Prairie

By Staff
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Attendees at last year's American Thresherman Association show in Pinckneyville, III., gather around the Titan.
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The Titan stays busy during show time, in this case pulling a McCormick-Deering thresher.

Side view of the American Thresherman Association’s 1913 45
HP IHC Titan, serial number TH259E, one of 1,495 made between

In 1910 International Harvester Company launched its newest and
largest tractor, the 45 HP Titan. Built at the Milwaukee Works,
Milwaukee, Wis., and sold by Deering dealers, the Titan was a
large, rugged tractor sold in direct competition with steam engines
and the other large tractors of the time.

Weighing in at an impressive 21,000 pounds, the 45 HP Titan
featured a horizontal two-cylinder engine with make-and-break
ignition and hit-and-miss governing. Rated power for the four-cycle
engine was at 335 rpm. The 9-inch bore, 14-inch stroke engine had
paired crank throws and alternate firing giving an explosion every
revolution, as with an opposed engine.

The big 45 HP Titan used a self-starting device consisting of a
1 HP air-cooled IHC gas engine and air compressor mounted on a
common base. The air compressor fills an air tank to 200 pounds, at
which point the air is piped to the Titan’s left cylinder to
spin the engine. When the right cylinder fires, an automatically
operated valve closes and the engine runs on both cylinders. Titans
may have been the only tractors to use this starting system.

The Titan’s wheels are 44 inches high at the front and 72
inches high at the rear. It has one speed forward and one reverse,
with a top speed of 2 mph. Its water tank holds 145 gallons, the
starting gas tank holds 16 gallons and the entire rig is 16 feet
long and 8-3/4 feet wide.

Changes in production along the way included a 1912 redesign of
the engine and the offering of an optional throttling governor. In
1913 Titan horsepower ratings were changed from 45 HP to a 30-60 HP
rating. In 1915 the Titan cab and sheet metal were redesigned, and
these changes stayed with the Titan up to the end of production in
1917. From 1910 to 1912 IHC built 918 45 HP Titan tractors.
Production for the 30-60 HP from 1913 to 1915 totaled 401, and
production of the final, redesigned Titan for 1915-1917 totaled 176
units, for a combined total of 1,495 Titan 45 HP/30-60 HP

The ATA Titan

The Titan tractor featured here is the pride and joy of the
American Thresherman Association of Pinckneyville, Ill. In the
early 1960s Martin Doyle, who now sits on the ATA’s board of
directors, discovered the Titan sitting in a salvage yard and told
fellow club member Arthur Knepper about his find. Arthur bought the
Titan, hauled it to his shop and launched into a year-long
restoration of the aging giant.

ATA club member Larry Gaertner prepares to start the Titan’s
1 HP starting engine. The small engine runs a compressor, which in
turn fills an air tank. Air from the tank is piped to the
Titan’s left cylinder to turn the engine over.

The Titan remained in Arthur’s ownership until 1967 when he
sold it to the ATA, and since then it has remained in the ATA’s
care. A preservation committee looks after the Titan, ensuring
it’s kept properly maintained and in good running order. The
American Thresherman Association was formed in 1959 and holds a
steam, gas and threshing show at the Perry County Fair Grounds in
Pinckneyville, Ill., the third weekend in August and the third
weekend in October every year. This is a large show with daytime
and evening activates, including steam tractor and gas tractor
plowing, tractor exhibits, gas engines, tractor pulls, a Sunday
antique car show, and much more. This year will be the 44th annual
show, and Ford, Ferguson and Massey Harris will be the featured
tractors. New displays and new members are always welcome.

Contact engine enthusiast Gary Bahre at: P.O. Box 40,
Sparta, IL 62286, or e-mail: The ATA website is

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Preserving the History of Internal Combustion Engines