8717 Clark Avenue, Savannah, Georgia 31406
Being born only in 1955, I experienced most early century tractors at expos such as Pioneer Days in Minnesota, or through stories from my father and others. However, as a youth on a family dairy farm with no plumbing, in southeastern Minnesota, the memories of neighbor thrashing and old tractors are vivid. Even though the area was correct, this certainly was not the 'Little House on the Prairie' era, as the one-man combine had been invented. But the 1950s and early '60s still had some thrashing. After the milking was done, shocking grain by the midnight moon, sometimes overlooking the bottoms where corn was planted for deer and wildlife, were some of the best times I had with my father. One of the most personal experiences for me, with an old tractor, was with an F-20 Farmall. In the winter the block was drained as it sat under the big tree by the red corncrib, and only its shape in the snow.
Pictured is an International Harvester type LA, 1-2 HP, serial number LAA18323, and my boys Joshua and Michael. My last memory of this engine was around 1960 when my grandmother's neighbor used it to cut wood. He was close to 100 years old at that time. He made it clear he wanted me to have the engine. It was put in a shed with a leaky roof on my uncle's farm and remained there for about 30 years. A couple of years ago I went to Minnesota to pick it up. It was pretty rough. After putting a new bottom in the gas tank, straightening the push rods, freeing the valves and other minor things, I tried to start it. I figured I would have to belt it to start it. However, a couple of cranks and it took off. I am looking to restore it fully in the future. Does anyone have information on the date this engine was manufactured?
In the spring, one pull from the H and it sprung to life. The H was a fortress' that always started in the winter and kept us warm, because the buzz saw attached to it supplied us with hundreds of cords of firewood.
The sickle mower almost always remained on the F-20, but if the alfalfa was ready and the cultivator was yet on the H, the old F-20 may very well join the fleet. Under a big pull you may hear it for miles with the straight pipe made from a piece of old rain gutter. Seeing anything plow the deep black soil was always excitement for me.
Since I was of young stature and not much legs, it was a severe drawback with the F-20 because of the distance to the pedals. Driving while loading shocks over steep hills and terraces, tears would steam down my face, but my father was steps away. When the DC Case and my uncle's John Deere 60, both with hand clutches, appeared on the scene, it was a welcome relief.
My cousin restored the 60 some years ago in high school age class. Even in the world of big horsepower, towering silos and technical seedbed tillage, the intricate engineering of the 60 still plays a part on the farm. It is another pillar of a way of life still alive.
Milk production and weight demands are changing rapidly as the equipment to meet those demands gets very exciting. However, we should not forget the models of iron mules numbering in the many thousands, and the men who fed and continue to feed this great land.