Giant of the Prairie

Lovingly Tended by the American Thresherman Association, a 1913 IHC 45 HP Titan's Future is Secured

| June/July 2003

  • 1913 45 HP IHC Titan

  • Titan's 1 HP starting engine

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

  • 1913 45 HP IHC Titan
  • Titan's 1 HP starting engine
  • Gather around the Titan
  • Titan tractors

Side view of the American Thresherman Association's 1913 45 HP IHC Titan, serial number TH259E, one of 1,495 made between 1910-1917.

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 tractors.

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 at:


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