Tractor Trendsetter: Farmall A
Written By Larry Gay
International Harvester introduced the Farmall tractor in 1924 which was a new type of tractor that could perform the regular tractor functions and also cultivate row crops. The high rear axles provided the clearance needed to straddle two rows when cultivating and the closely-spaced front wheels ran between the two rows. By 1933, the Farmall line had been expanded to three sizes, but all three had the same basic configuration for cultivating two rows as the original Farmall. In 1939, International Harvester introduced the Farmall A with an offset design which provided maximum visibility when cultivating one-row. This new configuration made the Farmall A a tractor trendsetter.
The Farmall A positioned the engine and transmission to the left of the tractor’s centerline and the operator’s seat was located to the right, next to the right rear fender. The steering wheel, clutch pedal, and two brake pedals were directly in front of the operator. The operator’s unobstructed view was advertised as Culti-Vision. The small Farmall A was a 1-plow tractor with a wide front axle which placed the front wheels in line with the rear wheels. It was powered by a 4-cylinder, 113-cubic-inch International gasoline engine with a 3-inch bore and a 4-inch stroke. The transmission provided four-forward speeds and one in reverse.
The Farmall B tractor was introduced shortly after the Farmall A and featured the same engine and offset operator’s station. However, it was built with a longer left rear axle and a single front wheel which enabled it to cultivate two rows. Dual front wheels were optional for the model B. The Farmall Cub, introduced for 1947, was a smaller version of the Farmall A and featured the offset design and a three-speed transmission. In 1948, the Super A replaced the A and the C replaced the B. The C had a conventional configuration for a 2-row cultivating tractor with the engine, transmission, and operator’s station on the centerline of the tractor, but the Super A and the Cub continued with the unique offset design.
The Farmall 100 replaced the Super A for 1955 and became the 130 for 1957, followed by the 140 for 1959. The Cub didn’t change its name, but did receive updates. However, the offset design was retained for all the variations, with the Cub remaining in production through 1979. The 140 was replaced by the International 274 Offset built by Kimco of Japan for the 1981 model year. The offset operator’s station was adopted by Oliver for its Super 44 tractor in 1957. Ford entered the 1-row cultivating tractor market in 1959 with its 541 model. It had the engine and transmission offset to the left of the tractor’s centerline, but the operator’s station was centered between the rear wheels.
Larry Gay is the author of four farm tractor books published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, including Farm Tractors 1975-1995 and Farm Tractors 1995-2005. The four books may be obtained from ASABE by calling 800-695-2723.