Piston Slap from Ontario


| May/June 1974



R.R. 3, Lambeth, Ontario, Canada NOL 1SO

Having enjoyed your magazine for some time now I thought it is time I put my two cents worth in. Since most of your readers are in the United States I had better get a plug in here for old Ontario. We are situated on one of the best pieces of farmland in the world here in Southwestern Ontario, we think so anyway, so it is only natural that we have some interesting pieces of early farm equipment around. We have several excellent shows within a few miles of London Ontario, (Pop. 220,000). Drop over and pay us a visit and you will agree that everything I have told you is true.

I have never seen much written on perhaps the most popular of all farm tractors, the McCormick-Deering 10-20. In this area the 10-20 probably outsold all others two to one. We bought a 10-20 in 1929. It was a 1927 model and we paid $550.00 at a farm sale. They sold for around $880.00 new. It did a pretty good job till 1949 when we traded it for a little more power. It ran from 1927 to 1947 on the original set of sleeves and pistons.

The 10-20 was introduced by International Harvester in 1923 and produced till 1938 basically unchanged. When they came out in 1923 they were quite a modern machine boasting such things as force fed lubrication, fully enclosed gearing running in oil, ball bearing crankshaft. However by 1938 competition had caught up again and the famous 10-20 gave way to the W 4 with its high compression engine, individual brakes, lights and starter, rubber tires and high speeds. The original 10-20 colour was gun metal gray with red wheels until about 1936 and then they all went all red.

From 1923-28 they used a twin exhaust system, one outlet about 3-1/2 inches in diameter and the other about 1-1/2 inches. The smaller one was the outlet for a carburetor heater which enabled the old fellows to do a better job of burning fuel oil than the later ones. By the 1930's fuel oil was beginning to lose favour as a fuel as the high compression engine was starting to appear. Remember the Ethyl Corp ads of those days promoting high compression and higher speeds etc.

The 1927 we had would work all day for about 12 gallons of fuel oil at about $.15 a gallon. Sounds pretty good with today's fuel prices. While I will admit several other tractors of the period might put up more power per pound of weight, one thing about the 10-20 was that if it started to work in the morning, good were the chances that it would be still chugging away at night. Like all early tractors they had their shortcomings and one was front wheel bearings especially on sandy ground. The seals were not very good and the sand would get in and it generally meant a couple of sets of bearings a year.