Tractor Trendsetters: Farmall A
Jul 23, 2012
Written by Larry Gay
In the late 1930s, the tractor companies started introducing small, light weight tractors which were aimed at replacing the horses and mules on small farms. These tractors were generally a one-plow tractor which was designed to cultivate one row of corn or cotton. International Harvester entered this market in the summer of 1939 with the introduction of the Farmall A, a four-wheel type of tractor with a wide front axle.
The Farmall A was unique with the engine and transmission offset to the left and the operator’s station offset to the right. This provided excellent visibility for the driver when cultivating row crops and International Harvester advertised this feature as “Culti-Vision.” The steering shaft passed along the right side of the engine and the clutch pedal and two brake pedals were located between the torque tube and the right fender, directly ahead of the pan seat.
The Farmall A was powered by a 4-cylinder, 113-cubic-inch International gasoline or distillate engine with a 3-inch bore and a 4-inch stroke. The transmission provided four speeds of 2.2, 3.5, 4.6, and 9.5 mph. Rubber tires were standard equipment. Optional equipment included an adjustable wide front axle, belt pulley and PTO, electric lighting and starting, and a pneumatic power lift which was powered by exhaust gas pressure.
The offset configuration was used for many other tractor models. The Farmall B with a single front wheel or dual front wheels was similar in size and power as the Farmall A, but was designed to cultivate two rows. The engine was centered with the two rear wheels, but the operator’s station was located on the right side of the tractor. The Farmall Cub was smaller than the Farmall A and used the same offset configuration as the Farmall A. The Farmall A was replaced by the Super A, then the 140, and eventually the International 274 Offset, but all retained the offset configuration of the A. Other tractors with similar offset configurations were the Ford 541 and 1710 Offset, the Oliver Super 44 and 440, the Kubota L245HC, the John Deere 900 HC, and the Case International 274 Offset and 265 Offset.
Larry Gay is the author of four tractor books published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, including Guide to Oliver Tractors and Guide to Ford Tractors. These books may be obtained from ASABE at 800-695-2723 or asabe.org, click publications and then click book catalog.