Monday, June 30, 2014

Tractor Talk, a recurring column by ScottAllen Barber within the Wagner Tales Quarterly Newsletter

I thought it might be appropriate to profile the two Case tractors that reside at Historic Wagner Farm. First, the 1942 SC that is still in use was actually from the Wagner’s ownership of the property. Second, because it’s 1944 cousin joins our static display near the Fordson this year, and third, because it was probably manufactured just “up the road” (in Racine, WI)!

As a young child, Jerome Increase Case read about Cyrus McCormick’s grain binder: a machine that could cut wheat without people needing to use their hands. He developed an interest in agriculture and was clearly a pioneer in mechanizing the industry, founding the J.I. Case Threshing Machine Company in 1844. Case introduced traction engines powered by steam and by 1895, gasoline engines. Though Mr. Case died in 1891, the company he founded remains as a force to this day worldwide.

Wagner Farm’s operating Case SC is well-suited to row crop production and while this tractor was available from the factory in a 6 volt model, Farm Manager Jeff Wienski whose involvement with this  property dates back 40 years is quite certain this tractor originally had a hand crank for starting. He should know, as he was part of Steve Swanson’s restoration team at The Grove when this unit underwent a major rehabilitation in the early 2000s.

Jeff remembers this tractor being electrified to a 12 volt system for Pete Wagner by Carson’s Garage of Glenview to allow for ease of starting. I would have thought part of adding “electric” was for running lights, if not being able to do field work in the relative cooler temperatures night work offered (as my uncle preferred in Ogle County), though Jeff is positive this tractor never had lights; it was strictly for the ease of starting the conversion to electric was done.

The SC weighs around 4,200 lbs, sports a 2.7 liter, 4 cylinder gasoline engine that claimed 19 horsepower at the drawbar, 22 for the power takeoff, and 31.71 for the belt drive.  New from the factory, the SC cost around $1,700 in 1955. Odds are good you will see our SC belted to a silo loader or other antique implements during special events at the farm, if not harvesting corn or on some other task.

Jeff had been hoping to find authentic Case fenders for the 1942, as the Wagner tractor’s fenders had rusted out. On learning of a 1944 SC  was part of the William M. Alcock Estate Auction in Lindenwood, IL last year, Jeff made the trip and was able to obtain this tractor “as is” for $600.

The hope had been for a second tractor to join the Fordson on display out front, so younger visitors to the farm this summer should take delight in having this out on permanent display, as our restoration crew has done a superb job in cleaning up and painting what had clearly been a neglected piece of equipment that should provide a wonderful backdrop for photo opportunities!

Click here to see the spring issue of Wagner Tales.