The Kinze Big Blue Tractor
Dec 10, 2014
Written By Larry Gay
During the 1970s, farmers were searching for more power and 4-wheel-drive tractors were growing in popularity. When new models of tractors were introduced, they always had increased horsepower over the models they replaced. Many farmers were adding turbochargers and increasing the fuel input for additional power. Plowing demonstrations at the fall farm shows were a big attraction as the tractor manufacturers put their largest models through their paces. The Kinze Big Blue 4-wheel-drive tractor made its first public appearance at the 1974 Farm Progress Show near Ft. Dodge, Iowa. It was unique as it was powered with two engines.
Built by Kinze Manufacturing Inc. of Williamsburg, Iowa, the Big Blue tractor was a custom-built, 4-wheel-drive tractor powered by two Detroit Diesel 2-cycle V-8 engines. Each engine was rated at 320 horsepower for a total of 640 engine horsepower for this tractor. One engine was located in the front segment of this articulated tractor and drove the front transmission and axle. The second engine was located in the rear portion, behind the articulated joint, and drove the rear transmission and axle. The tractor was equipped with dual wheels and tipped the scales at about 20 tons. The four exhaust stacks helped emphasize the size and power of this tractor.
Contrary to other 4-wheel-drive tractors of this era which had the operator’s station located on the front segment, Big Blue’s cab was located on the rear portion, just behind the articulated joint, and over the second engine. The cab was built with a double wall construction and the space was filled with sand. This reduced the sound level for the operator when the tractor was operated at full throttle with two screaming 2-cycle diesel engines. Since the two engines were independent of each other, the operator kept them in balance by observing the engines’ gauges and adjusting the throttles to keep them equally loaded.
The Kinze Big Blue tractor was built to demonstrate a 12-bottom flexible plow which it was able to pull with ease. However, it was the tractor and not the plow that stole the show. Today Big Blue is on exhibit at the Kinze Innovation Center at the Kinze factory beside the I-80 highway.
Larry Gay is the author of four tractor books and the “Machinery Milestones” articles in Heritage Iron magazine. To learn more about this magazine which focuses on the 1960-1985 era, go to heritageiron.com or call 1-855-old-iron.