Donald B. Valentine
---In STMFC@..., <doug.harding@...> wrote :
Bill others have already sent confirmation that crawler tractors were used in ag service. In my experience in Iowa, not so much. In Iowa crawler tractors were mostly construction equipment. Farmers in the mid-west preferred rubber tired tractors. In the past decade or so large farms have been using tracked tractors, but they have rubber tracks not metal tracks. I may be making assumptions but I believe several factors influenced the choice of farmers.
1) The tracks were hard on road and bridge surfaces. Rubber tires were far less destructive, and easier to fix/repair.
2) Crawler tractors are slow, a factor when moving from field to barn or when taking farm products to town for sale or shipment.
3) Crawler tractors had more power than was needed on smaller farms. Midwest grain farms were small until past the time era of this list.
4) Crawler tractors were expensive, esp diesel powered units. If you didn’t need it why spend money for it. Mid-west farmers are frugal
Well you get the idea. I think you had to be a very large farmer to justify the use of a crawler tractor in typical mid-west farm operations. The John Deere B or McCormick Deering Farmal (later IH) was the tractor of choice up through the mid 50s.
In this nation most crawler tractors used on farms have remained fairly small in size if for no other reason than larger ones simply were rarely needed. I do not agree that they had more power than was needed on smaller farms. Small John Deere crawlers were popular for New England and many New York farmers for years
and the Oliver OC-4 provided excellent competition to them. Perhaps farmers in the northeast have always been more diversified than those elsewhere and that may shed some light on the subject. My family sold the
family dairy in the early 1950's but by the time I was in 10th grade in the late 1950's my school vacations
were spent back on our former neighbors farm, where I'm sitting as this is typed but it is now house lots. By that time Bert had acquired an Oliver OC-4 with a six way blade and a winch that was a wonderful small dozer.
It was great for moving stones too big to be moved otherwise and it replaced a team of horse formerly used to
draw saw logs in the winter and a collecting tank mounted on a dray for sugaring in the spring. If a field were
really muddy in the late spring one could usually get onto it with a small crawler where one would risk getting stuck with a rubber tired tractor. I've worked driving a team of horses to draw logs and sugar and have always liked working with a good team. A good horse can think and that will sometimes keep one from getting into trouble where the same cannot be said for any crawler or tractor. But I always enjoyed the OC-4 as well and
could get more done with it than with a two horse team. The horses had to be fed whether they were working
or not while the crawler did not. But the capitalization was without question more expensive and as much as
I like an OC-4 or a John Deere 50, or even a newer 450, the machine just never provided the satisfaction of
working with a good team. I feel that way about my Massey-Ferguson 35 Deluxe as well but it has served me
well for nearly forty years.
In the Black Earth area of Southern Russia where my wife's family lives crawlers were the choice on the collective farms just because the soil was so soft and deep. Wheel tractors often became mired in soft soil
until the modern tractors became available with eight wheels on longer axles to spread their weight more.
When we last visited I was pleased to pass three John Deere and five New Holland combines on the way to
the village to visit my father-in-law. And when the tractor station at the collective farm was passed there was the old Soviet combine, a real Rube Goldberg machine, rusting at the rear of it. Good farmers know good
equipment when they experience it no matter where in the world they are located.
Cordially, Don Valentine