Re: Multi-fuel farm tractors.

Donald B. Valentine
 

According to my 1938-1939 John Deere "Farmer's Pocket Ledger" from
the long defunct Munson Store in Morrisville, VT it appears that the
entire John Deere line in that period was available with engines that
burned either gasoline or kerosene. I learned to mow on a 1938 John
Deere Model B that I can well remember, and it is still in existence.
One opened a petcock on each of the two cylinders to reduce the
compression, made sure the fuel valve was set for gasoline and
everything else was set before giving the flywheel a spin. After
warming up a minute or two the petcocks were closed and the fuel was
switched over to kerosene. This was a tricyle wheel arranged tractor
but could be had with a single front wheel for certain row crops,
down to 16 in. between rows, or an adjustable wide front end allowing
a spacing from 56 to 80 in. The latter arrangement was really
beginning to take hold in the years following WW II to the point
where I don't recall ever seeing a Ford tractor with a tricyle wheel
arrangement. The John Deere Model B, Farmall H and Ford 8N were the
most common farm tractors in use in northern Vermont around 1950 with
a few Case and even fewer Allis-Chalmers to be seen as well. The
Oliver line began to sow up about that time and Ferguson picked up
quickly on its own after Henry and Harry had their famous falling
out. IMHO Ferguson made the success of the Ford tractor line, though
it continued quite well after the split. But Ford never offered any
equipment worth owning to use with their tractors other than plows.
Some Canadian tractors such as the Cockshutt were seen on occasion as
well.

How all this equipment arrived was of equal interest, and more
appropriate for this list. My late friend Phil Hastings chased and
photographed the local freight on the B&M's Concord to Claremont,
N.H. line on day about this time with a full load of six new Farmall
H's of M's on a flat car. The tractor loaded flat car shows up in two
or three photos in his book on the B&M and I am fortunate to have
others from that day's outing here. By the time my memory really
began the Munson Store had turned the John Deere dealership in
Morrisville over to Wards and the Salls Bros. has an International
Harvester dealership together with their Studebaker dealership in
the village as well. Given the popularity of Studebaker trucks on
Lamoille County farms at that time this must have been a good
arrangement. Over in Cambridge, on the west end of the county,
T. J. McGovern had a large International Harvester dealership in
combination with his large grain business. When the Burlington &
Lamoille Branch of the Central Vermont Rwy. was abandoned in 1938
the St.J. & L.C. took over about two miles of it to serve a large
saw mill in Jeffersonville. Concerned about his ability to receive
grain and farm machinery, McGovern took over another five miles over
which he moved single cars with a farm tractor as his sole source of
motive power! Just how long that lasted I'm not sure but know a few
oldtimers who still recall it. Ford farm equipment in those years
seems to have come mostly from Ed Collins in Waterbury until he
closed in the late 1950's. That was the beginning of a trend that
saw farmers traveling further and further to go to their farm
equipment dealer. Indeed, L. W. Greenwood & Sons, in East Randolph,
VT is the only farm machinery dealership in Vermont which I can
recall that remains in the same family, or much as it was, in the
1950's. They have survived even though they never had the advantage,
in earlier years, of having rail delivery available almost right to
their door.

To return to Morrisville, the team track there in the post-war
years was the true reflection of a community with an agricultural
base. New autos and trucks arrived in box cars of the appropriate
size and configuration, with larger trucks arriving on flat cars.
Presumedly, other farm machinery and household appliances for the
several stores in town dealing in such goods also arrived in box
cars. Some scrap metal even went out in gondolas, though not nearly
so much as went out that way in the scrap drives I've seen photos of
from the earliest period of W.W. II. In the springtime carloads of
both bagged fertilizer and bagged lime, the latter primarily from
Swanton in a one railroad move, could be seen being unloaded on the
two team tracks. Some was ordered direct by farmers, while the rest
was for the Eastern States Farmers Exchange store, H. A. Slayton &
Sons grain business or the United Farmers Creamery Association's
cooperative store. From late October and about Thanksgiving these
same track often held both gondolas and flat cars with high stakes
along their sides. These were soon piled high with bundles Christmas
trees being shipped as far south as Florida. Like everything else,
unfortunately, by 1960 most of these freight movements were either
gone or had been converted to truck shipment and even Ward's was in
its last years as a John Deere dealership.

Don Valentine



--- In STMFC@..., "Douglas Harding" <dharding@...> wrote:

Correction on my last posting: Farmall MD's were built 1941-1952. I
thought they were later than that, but I was thinking of the
Farmall Super H's & M's which were built in the 50's
http://www.tractordata.com/td/001/td1113.html states the Farmall MD
was the
diesel version of the M. The MD was started on gasoline, by pulling
a lever which enlarged the combustion chamber (to lower the
compression) and closed the circuit for the spark plugs. After the
engine was warm, it was switched over to diesel. Farmall built
a few all fuel tractors that could operate on distillate or
kerosene. Models included the F-20 built 1932-39, the F-30 built
1931-1939, and the M built 1939-1952.

I believe the HO LifeLike tractor is a Farmall Super M-TA built in
1954.

Doug Harding
www.iowacentralrr.org

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