1948 International Harvester McCormick-Deering WD 9
From 1902 when IH was formed to the early 1920s, McCormick and Deering dealerships kept their original brands unique, with Mogul tractors sold at McCormick dealers, and Titan tractors at Deering dealerships, due to the still present competitiveness of the former rivals.
IH produced a range of massive petrol kerosene (TVO) powered farm tractors under the Mogul and Titan brands. These tractors had varied success but the trend going into the mid-teens of the 1900s was "small" and "cheap".
The first important tractors from IH were the model 10-20 and 15-30. Introduced in 1915, the tractors (which were comparatively smaller than their predecessors) were primarily used as traction engines to pull plows and for belt work on threshing machines. The 10-20 and 15-30 both had separate, but similar, Mogul and Titan versions.
IHC did like many companies do to this day, and that was to purchase a number of smaller companies to incorporate their products into the IH dealer arsenal. P&O Plowing and Chattanooga Plow were purchased in 1919. Other brand names they incorporated were Keystone, D.M. Osborne, Kemp, Chattanooga Plow, Meadows, Sterling, Weber, Plano, Champion, and the list goes on and on.
In 1924, IH introduced the Farmall tractor, a smaller general-purpose tractor, to fend off competition from the Ford Motor Company's Fordson tractors. The Farmall was the first tractor in the United States to incorporate a tricycle-like design (or row-crop front axle), which could be used on tall crops such as cotton and corn.
Following the introduction of the Farmall, IH introduced several similar looking "F Series" models that offered improvements over the original design (the original model became known as the "Regular").
In 1932 IH produced their first diesel engine, introduced in the McCormick-Deering TD-40 crawler. This engine started on gasoline, then switched over to diesel fuel. Diesel engines of this era were difficult to start in cold weather, and the gasoline allowed the engine to start easily and thoroughly warm up before making the switch to diesel in all weather conditions. In 1935 this engine was put in the International Harvester WD-40, becoming the world's first diesel tractor on wheels.
For model year 1939, industrial designer Raymond Loewy was hired to design a new line of tractors. The sleek look, combined with other new features, created what is known as the Farmall "letter series" (A, B, BN, C, H and M) and the McCormick-Deering "standard series" (W-4, W-6 and W-9). The tractors were updated to the "super" series in the early fifties (with the exception of the A, which became a "super" in 1947, and the B and BN, which were discontinued in 1948) and received several improvements. Many of these tractors (especially the largest: the H, M and W models) are still in operation on farms today. Especially desirable are the diesel-powered MD, WD-6 and WD-9. These tractors carried forward the unique gasoline start diesel concept of the WD-40.
The letter and standard series of tractors were produced until 1954, and were a defining product in IH history.
For 1955 in IH tractors, the numbered "hundred-series" was offered. Although given slightly different looks and few new features, they were still updates to the models introduced in 1939. The only new tractor in the 1955 lineup is the 300 Utility. In 1957 IH gave the tractor lineup another update by increasing power in some models, adding a new 230 Utility model, and adding new white paint to the grill and sides and new number designations were given. This improved sales at the time, but IH's inability to change and update was already showing.
In July of 1958, IH started a major campaign to introduce a new line of tractors that many dealers hoped would turn around slumping sales. At the Hinsdale, Illinois Testing Farm, IH entertained over 12,000 dealers from over 25 countries. IH showed off their new "60" series of tractors: including the big, first of their kind, six-cylinder 460 and 560 tractors. But the joy of the new line of tractors was short lived. One of the first events that would eventually lead to the downfall of IH presented itself in 1959. In June of that year, IH recalled the 460, 560, and 660 tractors: final drive components had failed. IH, who wanted to be the first big-power manufacturer, had failed to drastically update the final drives on the new six-cylinder tractors. These final drives were essentially unchanged from 1939 and would fail rapidly under the stress of the more powerful 60-series engines. IH's competitors took advantage of the recall, and IH would lose customers in the ensuing months, with many customers moving to John Deere's New Generation of Power tractors introduced in 1960.
Throughout the 1960s IH would introduce new tractors and new methods of selling them. As producing tractors was the lifeblood of the company, IH would have to remain competitive in this field. They both succeed and failed at his goal. But farming was about to change, and IH, along with competitors, were in for a bumpy ride.
1973 would see some important milestones for IH. On February 1, 1974 at 9 a.m., the 5 millionth tractor came off the assembly line at the Farmall Plant in Illinois. IH was the first tractor manufacturer to accomplish this. Also in 1973, IH officially dropped the "Farmall" name from its tractor. This ended an era that began with the first Farmall "Regular" back in 1924.
As the 1980s began, IH was ready to climb from its own depression and become a leader once more. IH would face a stable economy, yet it would face an unknown fate. In September of 1981, IH announced at a dealership meeting the new "50 Series" of tractors. These new tractors would prove once again that IH had the innovation to come out on top. Penned by industrial designer Gregg Montgomery, whose firm later designed the Case IH "Magnum" series tractors, the new stylish design of the "50 Series" would change the look of tractors forever. IH spent over $29 million to develop this new series, and the result was the last great lineup of tractors from IH.
There were many technology-related innovations put into the new series. A computer monitoring system called a Sentry was developed, and IH became the first manufacturer to add a computer to a farm tractor. Other new innovations included a "z" shift pattern, an 18 speed synchronized transmission, a forward air flow cooling system, "Power Priority" 3-pump hydraulic system, color-coded hydraulic lines and controls, and a new rear-hitch system. The 50 Series had an unprecedented three-year or 2,500-hour engine and drive-train warranty, which would later become an industry standard. Although no new sales records were set, IH sold a respectable amount of these tractors during its short production time.
IH was well into the development of a new line of tractors that would revolutionize the ways of farming when the sale of the Ag division was announced. Many of these new features would find their way into the new series of MAGNUM tractors introduced by Case IH in 1987.