Tractor vs. freight train

Boy, what a week. Derechos suck!

We were doing some back-of-the-envelope math this afternoon at the office, and if the secretary of agriculture’s estimates are on track, there could be as much as $1.15 billion of corn lying on the ground in the Midwest that can’t be harvested. That’s a hard number to stomach, folks. There’s so much destruction all over the central Midwest from this that I’m sure it’s hard for some farmers to even know where to start. Keep them in your thoughts and prayers, folks. They’re in ours.

We’re hoping to put our skills and products to work to help these farmers soon, too. Stay tuned to our socials for more information on that in the next few days.

Allis-Chalmers 7080

The Freight Train...

Wait … What???

I’ll get to it. There’s a tie-in here. So stick with me, please.

The Allis-Chalmers 7080 was the flagship of the 7000 series line and the biggest two-wheel-drive (2WD) tractor the company had ever built. It was a big orange boss, and everything on it was built for business. The engineers installed an intercooler on the turbocharged 426-cubic-inch diesel and cranked the horsepower up to 210 hp. In fact, I think the 7080 was the first 2WD tractor to break the 200-hp. mark.

Now, that said, most of the guys I know with 426 experience say that the motor is a little sketchy when you run it hard for extended periods of time. One guy I know even goes as far as recommending that owners detune them a bit for longevity. Still, even detuned, a 7080 will make a heck of a hay baling tractor!

This particular Allis Chalmers 7080 lives in Kansas for now until its sells at a auction August 26.

Personally, I think this would make a nice 4-H or FFA or Young Farmer project for some high school kid to restore. It appears to have spent a few nights under the stars, and it has some pump issues. Whoever picks this one up will have some work to do, but when finished it’ll be a pretty solid workhorse!

The reference to a freight train in the title is a throwback to some of the marketing surrounding this tractor’s release. Back in the mid-1970s, Allis-Chalmers hooked one of its 7080s to a string of 30 railcars and a caboose, weighing in at over 900 tons! Nobody knew whether the 7080 could yank ’em down the tracks, but sure enough, it did! Carl Stevens drove the big orange locomotive and even got the tractor into third gear! (He also told an Allis dealer, “The seat of that tractor developed a permanent pucker when we tried to stop that string of railcars!”)

Want to see the TV commercial that Allis Chalmers released with the train? Watch it here.

John Deere 60 Orchard

The Fancy Fruit Tractor

I’m a Michigan apple grower’s son, so orchard tractors will always have a special place in my heart. Rare(ish) ones like this 1956 John Deere 60 Orchard with the fancy fenders are cooler still!

Orchard tractors became a thing in the early part of the 20th century. The swoopy sheet metal fenders, however, didn’t come into their own until the mid-1930s. Coincidentally, this is also about the time that we started to see it in high-end luxury cars like the Delahaye. I’m sure that an engineer or a designer saw this and realized, “Hey, we can turn those rear fenders backwards and put ’em on tractor wheels, and they’ll get under tree branches a lot better!”

The swoopy sheet metal over the wheels and fairing over the dash were the most obvious differences. They were only one part of it, though. Orchards have low-hanging branches in the rows. Consequently, growers couldn’t afford to use a traditional Farmall with a high seating position because they’d sacrifice too much fruit! Hence, most orchard tractors had a lower, skinnier profile so they could navigate rows of trees or vines. Farmers wanted them as low and sleek as possible with nothing sticking up out of the hood. Manufacturers listened, and brought as much as they could under the windshield fairing and made the controls accessible from lower-positioned seats. Hand clutches replaced foot clutches, exhausts were rerouted out the back under the frame, and headlights were built in or made to retract.

This particular John Deere is a gasser, built in 1956. The general consensus seems to be that Deere only built 297 of these tractors. Is it the rarest Deere in the world? Nope – but I’ll bet you can’t find another one in South Dakota! It definitely presents pretty nicely. The only thing it’s missing are the mesh side panels over the motor!

If I ever start collecting tractors, I can tell you that orchard models are the ones I’ll be looking for. I doubt I’ll ever find the ones my family owned when they started growing apples in the ’30s. A guy can dream, though, right?

This beauty of a Deere Orchard 60 sells at a Wieman Land & Auction ( sale August 14.

J.I. Case 2470

The Hillside Hero

This one is for my buddy Nellson. He likes the crab-walkers because they had the oomph for heavy tillage but didn’t sacrifice the maneuverability of a smaller tractor. He also thinks the Case 2670 Traction King stretched its 504-cubic-inch diesel a little too far even with the intercooler, but that’s a discussion for another beer.

In the mid-70s, J.I. Case was a pretty well-established player in the game with its rigid-frame four-wheel-drive (4WD) tractors. Farmers loved the 2470 for its ability to handle like a 2WD but with the grunt to run heavy implements … yet, they needed more capability. Farming was growing at unprecedented levels, and farmers were planting more ground than ever before. 

So Case turned up the wick on the 2470, and brought it out as the 2670. It was everything that the 2470 was, but with about 50 extra horses. It took a lot more than simply turning the pump screw to get there, though. To make all that extra power, it took a different injector design, a bigger pump, and an intercooler!

By far, though, the thing that made the big Traction King popular was its ingenious method of steering. If you’ve never seen a Case four-wheel-steer tractor make a wicked tight turn before, it’s a thing of beauty, let me tell you! You can turn one of these tractors around in under 16 feet! Furthermore, on steep hills (think wheat fields in eastern Washington), the crab-steer function almost eliminated implement side draft!

This particular 2670 Traction King lives about 45 minutes north of Sedalia, Missouri, until August 26 when it is being sold on that auction. It’s got just under 8,000 hours on it, and it’s in surprisingly good shape for its age. It’s not a museum piece, per se … the new owner will need to address some hydraulic issues. Still, the tin work is fairly clean, it’s got reasonably good rubber, and it’s in good running condition as far as I can tell!

Ryan Roossinck

Hi! I’m Ryan, and I love tractors. It doesn’t matter if it’s a showpiece, an oddball, or seen its share of life … if it’s unique and it’s listed by one of our auctioneer partners at Tractor Zoom, I’m going to show it off a little bit! This equipment is all up for auction RIGHT NOW, so you can bid on them! I think they’re cool, and I hope you will, too. This is Interesting Iron!

Read more about

Tip of the Day

Agronomy Tip: Checklist for Planting

A man and a woman going over paperwork in the field. Late planting may mean you are in a rush, but if you follow a simple checklist, it could make all the difference between efficiencies and... read more

Talk in Marketing