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IHC Farmall H
Historically, the Farmall Model H was the overlooked little brother. As part of IHC’s new generation of Farmall tractors in 1939, the H lived in the shadow of its big brother, the Model M.
The M was the beefy big boy of the Farmall line. It stood out in the field of horsepower at the time because it was powerful and very attractive with streamlined styling. So strong was the M’s presence that several antique tractor historians have identified the M as one of the best-known tractors of all time.
But it was the M’s little brother – the H – that ruled the roost in sales. So popular was the H that by the time it finished its 14-year production run in 1953, over 390,000 of the tractors had sold, making it the most popular individual model ever built.
The H, with its two-plow capacity, did more to convert the late bloomers (the small farmers) to mechanical horsepower than any other model at the time. Pricewise, farmers couldn’t afford to continue farming with horses or mules when they could buy a Model H for under $962 on rubber tires.
Here was a tractor farmers were proud to own. Its beauty stood out in a field. And the H was loaded with a myriad of creature comforts.
IHC engineers put together an impressive list of standard features on both the H and the M, including a spacious operator’s platform with a comfortable seat, rubber tires (until World War II restricted tire supplies), an elongated chassis from which implements could be easily suspended, five-speed transmission, and a highly reliable engine (gas or distillate versions).
Many manufacturers bragged about their engines’ prowess at this time. But IHC backed their boasts with engineering. Their engines were built with an array of performance-enhancing improvements such as removable cylinder sleeves, precision-type bearings, large cleaners (for air, oil, and fuel), and Tocco-hardened crankshafts. The Tocco process had recently been developed. The approach hardened load-bearing surfaces to impart high-wear ability. In time, all high-wear parts in engines would employ the Tocco process.
To punctuate the H’s and the M’s appeal, IHC offered them with a wealth of options such as electric lights, starter, PTO, and hydraulic Lift-All (IHC’s hitch system) all at reasonable prices. The hitch system, in particular, caught the eye of many farmers.
Referred to as the Farmall System of Farming, the feature allowed implements to be quickly mounted to either the H or the M, as the tractors shared a common wheel-
base. Over 190 implements were available to work with the first quick-attach hitch system in agriculture. And for good measure, the Farmall design team equipped the H and the M with keyway (slot in the axle) rear-axle wheel adjustment, which allowed the space between rear rims to be infinitely moved from 44 out to 80 inches.
Combined, all these features created the most completely modern tractors of their time. This certainly allowed the M to advance sales for IH in the large-horsepower market.
But the effect of the H was stunning, as similar small tractors were feature poor. Farmers bought over 10,000 H’s in 1939 even though the model had only just been introduced in August of that year!