Monday, August 4, 2014

From 8 to 3 Tractor Companies

Update: I found a timeline of tractor history.
Update: one problem with consecutive years of bumper corn crops is that the price of corn is low so farmers are hurting. When farmers are hurting, farm manufactures are also hurting. This news about Case New Holland Industrial America laying off 70 more workers in Fargo, ND, was frustrating because they did not explain what that plant makes. But it did give me a name to Google to find, which in turn lead to a locations page. There I learned that Fargo is one of two plants that make high-horsepower, four-wheel-drive tractors. And I learned that sometimes I drive within about 1000 feet of their headquarters. Three of their plants offer tours. More history on CNH and on J.I.Case, the man.

When I was a boy visiting my Grandfather's farm in the early 1960s, I would study his farm magazines. I noticed from the advertizements and by the equipment on the farms in the area that there were evidently eight tractor manufactures---John Deere, International Harvester, Ford, Minneapolis-Moline, Oliver, Massey Ferguson, and Allis-Chalmers. And there were companies such as New Holland, Gleaner, and New Idea that did not make tractors, but they did make farm implements such as self-propelled combines, feed grinders and hay forage equipment.

In the 1920s when many little tractors were needed to replace horses on small family farms, the market could support several manufactures. But the trend towards larger, and thus fewer, tractors and the farm recession of the 1980s reduced the number of brands, manufacturing plants, and companies. To provide a "road map" for the remainder of the post, I summarize the consolidations below.
  • Ford + Sperry New Holland -> Ford New Holland
  • J.I.Case + IH -> Case IH
  • Case IH + New Holland + Fiat Industrial -> CNH Industrial but so far the Case IH and New Holland brands have been kept distinct
  • Allis-Chalmers acquires Gleaner and then becomes Duetz-Allis in 1985 and is bought out by management in 1990 as AGCO
  • Minneapolis-Moline + Oliver -> White Farm Equipment
  • AGCO buys Hesston in 1991
  • AGCO buys New Idea in 1993
  • AGCO buys Massey Ferguson in 1994
  • AGCO buys White Farm Equipment in 2001. But evidently this was the kind of purchase to get only dealers and customers. The White band name continues only on some planters. The Oliver and Minneapolis-Moline brands and factories had already pretty well disappeared.
  • AGCO buys Caterpillar Agriculture Equipment Business in 2002 and brands it as Challenger
  • John Deere remains John Deere
Actually, AGCO and CNH Industrial are global companies that have acquired additional companies in other countries, and John Deere has created joint ventures in other countries. For example, AGCO bought Fendt (Germany) in 1997 and Valtra (Finland) in 2004. And CNH has the Steyr brand in Europe. But I'm focusing on companies that sell in the United States.

Heritage Iron Magazine posted
going all the way back to 1964!!!
Jett Doolittle: The big 8! The 1960s were the best decade for agriculture equipment in my opinion.
Gideon Strydom: Ford, John Deere, Massey Ferguson, Farmall, Allis Chalmers, Minneapolis Moline, Case, Oliver
DL Durchholz shared
Look at those brands….

J. I. Case and IH

In 1984, Tenneco purchased the agricultural division of International Harvester and merged it with the J.I. Case assets that it had bought in 1967. Thus creating the brand Case IH:

Wikipedia has the following list of factory locations. I know Racine, Wisconsin was the town in which J.I Case was founded. I need to make a trip to Burr Ridge, IL I assume it is part of the IH heritage.

  • Benson, Minnesota - Cotton Harvesters, Application Equipment
  • Curitiba, Brazil - Farmall, Maxxum and Magnum Tractors
  • Grand Island, Nebraska - Combines, Windrowers
  • Fargo, North Dakota - Tractors
  • Piracicaba, Brazil - Sugarcane harvesters, Sprayers, Coffee harvesters and Planters
  • Racine, Wisconsin - Tractors
  • Saskatoon, Saskatchewan - Crop Production Equipment
  • Sorocaba, Brazil - 2566, 7120, 8120 Combines
  • St. Valentin, Austria - Tractors
  • Goodfield, Illinois - Tillage Equipment
  • New Holland, Pennsylvania - Round Balers
  • TürkTraktör, Türkiye - Tractors
  • New holland India Pvt limited - Tractors and harvesting equipment
  • Burr Ridge, Illinois- Tractors
I also found a list of which models are made at which factory:

(Update: a video that shows its various products. It also has links to other CaseIH videos. Some Case steam tractors. A Facebook posting of 30 pictures showing Case products through the years. A video introducing Case's Case-O-Matic tractors around 1958-60.)

Engineering World posted
The closest Case IH dealer to Downers Grove, IL, is 50 miles away (Stoller Intl, Inc., 3196 North Illinois Route 23, Ottawa, IL, 61350).
(new window)    (source)   Made in 1974. That was probably their peak. They had 36 plants and over 100,000 employees. The scenes include Wisconsin Steel.   Forging a crankshaft: it is stamped flat, and then it goes into a machine that twists the cranks to the correct angle.   The operators of stamping presses must have their hands in brackets far away from the dies before the machine will cycle.

Ford and New Holland

In 1986 Ford bought Sperry New Holland and formed Ford New Holland. It is interesting that Ford's blue color for the tractors survived, but the brand name did not.

Wikipedia has the following locations for there 22 factories.


  • Dera Ghazi Khan, Pakistan: tractors, engines (joint ventures)
  • Harbin, China: tractors
  • Naberezhnye Chelny, Russia: tractors and combines (joint venture)
  • New Delhi, India: tractors
  • Shanghai, China: tractors (joint venture)
  • Tashkent, Uzbekistan: tractors (joint venture)


  • Ankara, Turkey: tractors, engines (joint ventures)
  • Antwerp, Belgium: components
  • Basildon, UK: tractors
  • Coex, France: grape harvesters
  • Croix, France: components
  • Jesi, Italy: tractors
  • Lecce. Italy: telehandlers
  • Modena, Italy: components
  • Płock, Poland: combines and balers
  • Zedelgem, Belgium: combines, balers and forage harvesters
  • Cork,Ireland: tractors

North America


  • Querétaro: tractors and components (joint venture)

United States

  • Fargo, North Dakota: tractors
  • Grand Island, Nebraska: combines and hay and forage equipment
  • New Holland, Pennsylvania: balers, hay and forage equipment
  • Racine, Wisconsin: tractor assembly, transmissions


  • Saskatoon, Saskatchewan: planting and seeding equipment

South America


  • Rio Verde: sprayers, tractors and combines
  • Curitiba: tractors and combines
  • Piracicaba: sprayer
  • Sorocaba: combines
The New Holland, Pennsylvania, location is where Abe Zimmerman founded the New Holland Manufacturing company in 1895, and it is the North American headquarters of the company and "the largest hay tools production facility in the world" (Wikipedia). The company headquarters is in Turin, Italy because in 1991 Fiat purchased 80% of Ford New Holland.

To choose dealer locations, I had to choose which equipment I wanted. I first picked tractors, but that gave me locations that were too close to the metro area so I was probably finding "park district" dealers rather than farmer dealers. So I did a search for "big balers" because that is something I have never seen before and I want to see one.

The closest dealer to Downers Grove, IL, is 39 miles away.

In 1999 Case IH merged with New Holland Ag to form a new parent company, CNH Global.  But the Case IH and New Holland brands are still distinct. CNH Global also includes the Austrian manufacturer Steyr and joint ventures in China, Japan, and Russia. In 2013, CNH Global and Fiat Industrial were merged into CNH Industrial.


(Update: biography of Edward Allis.)

In the late 1800s, Allis-Chalmers had a thriving heavy-machinary plant in West Allis, Wisconsin.
A-C started making tractors in 1914. In 1985 A-C sold the agricultural division to Klockner-Humboldt-Deutz (HD) to form Deutz-Allis. The last tractor was built in the West Allis plant on December 6, 1985. Management bought the Deutz-Allis assets in 1990 and formed AGCO (Allis Gleaner Co.). On January 30, 1999, a company that once employed 41,000 people laid off the last 100 employees.

For A-C, the factory list in Wikipedia is a list of former sites.
  • Corporate offices, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  • Tractor plant, West Allis, Wisconsin
  • Gleaner combine plant, Independence, Missouri (site inherited from Gleaner Manufacturing Company)
  • Tractor plant, La Porte, Indiana (site inherited from Advance-Rumely)
  • Implement plant, La Crosse, Wisconsin (site inherited from La Crosse Plow Works)
  • Tractor plant, Gadsden, Alabama
  • Heavy equipment plant in Springfield, Illinois (site inherited from Monarch Tractor Company)
  • Various parts factories in Chicago
  • Others
And someone has already dug into the A-C factory history.

Jason Jordan shared Brett Daltman's photo in Allis Chalmers Tractors
Update: I'm not the only one that takes pictures of tractor dealers. It seems the photo is from a dealer's web site.

I came across a video of the building of an earthen dam that uses a custom dual-dozer with a 20-foot blade.

A history of A-C including a round baler introduced in 1940 as their "Roto-Baler." (I thought round baling was invented by a agriculture professor in Iowa in the 1980s as a favor to a farmer friend who wanted a solution to reducing the labor needed to harvest hay.)

This posting about moving production from the Independence Missouri Gleaner plant to Hesston KS in 2000 has other information such as who manufactured the engines. Justin Hiner I went through the plant in 2005. Challenger, Massey Ferguson, Gleaner combines all running down one assembly line

AGCO combines

Oliver and Minneapolis-Moline

White Motor Corporation acquired Oliver in 1960 and Minneapolis-Moline in 1963. By 1969, the same models were being sold as both Oliver and M-M with  just a change in the paint color, decals, and grille. In 1974, these two brands were discontinued and the White brand was used. The original Oliver Chilled Plow Works factory in South Bend was closed in 1985.

Kenny Toohill posted
Heads up folks. FB is alive today about a blacksmiths birthday.
Here are some points that might help you get through the day.
John Deere was a blacksmith and made a steel plow. He died before the term tractor came into use.
James OLIVER invented the chilled plow which remains essentially the same yet today.
HART PARR is credited with the term TRACTOR, #190 built 1903 which is the
earliest known internal-combustion-engined agricultural tractor in the United States (Wikipedia)
OLIVER HART & PARR built factories / John Deere had a blacksmith shop -
Greg Davis Thanks for sharing. Most Oliver people know these facts. Most others think John Deere invented the tractor. I may have to copy and paste the facts you just listed with your permission.Kenny Toohill Greg Davis - the more that copy and paste this the better. Go for it!Central States Hart-Parr Oliver Collectors Association John Deere bought Froelich but didn't do anything with it. They bought Waterloo Boy to get into the tractor business in 1918. One of the board members on John Deere's board developed the Dain all wheel drive 3 wheel tractor about the same time but few were sold, too expensive.Kenny Toohill 1837 vs 1857One is just a hunk of bent iron - the other is a proper plowMarty Kamysz My great grandfather steamed and formed the handles for these, he eventually worked his way up to a blacksmith job, and eventually the precursor to tool and die.Gregory Conner Was Hart Parr a part of Oliver when they invented the tractor? Or did Oliver buy Hart Parr?Kenny Toohill Gregory Conner four companies merged in 1929 to form The Oliver Farm Equipment Company.American Seeding Machine CompanyOliver Chilled Plow WorksHart-Parr Tractor CompanyNichols and Shepard


An artist conception drawing of an aerial view, c.1900

Richard M. Gaskill posted
Minneapolis Moline Tractor Factory, Minneapolis Minnesota, 1939

The Hopkins, MN, headquarters site of M-M has been redeveloped as a Honda automobile dealership.

White Farm Equipment was purchased by AGCO in 1991.

(Update: a video about what killed Oliver. The short answer: White.)

Many of the 31 photos in this post are of M-M tractors.

More M-M photos

Massey Ferguson

AGCO purchased Massey Ferguson in 1994 and has continued to support that brand with more models and factories. And AGCO purchased Caterpillar Agriculture Equipment Business and supports that business as their Challenger brand. The best info I have on AGCO's factories is this map I copied from an AGCO video on manufacturing.

The closest dealer to Downers Grove is 71 miles away (Mc Cullough Implement Co , 1966 North State Route 1, Watseka, IL   60970). (Update: 70 years of production in Coventry, England.)

(Update: South Bend History: 1 & 2)

John Deere

John Deere is still John Deere. But they got into the tractor business by buying Waterloo Boy. Their own Dain design was considered a failure.

The closest dealer to Downers Grove for agricultural equipment is 29 miles away. But the second one  is of more interest because it is in a town along the Illinois Waterway and the I&M Canal, 11900 N STATE ROUTE 47, MORRIS IL 60450.

More "Dealer Tests"

The "closest dealers" test of the viability of a tractor brand seems to be flawed. If I use Wesley Chapel, FL, (zip: 33543) instead of Downers Grove (60515), I get very different results. Even searching for tractors instead of big balers, New Holland's closest was 62 miles and Case IH was 71 miles with only 2 dealers in Florida whereas AGCO had 5 dealers within 27 miles! John Deere's closest was 21 miles and there were 5 dealers within 60 miles.

So I did another test using Fort Wayne, IN, because it is my hometown and I could still remember my zip code, 46805. And because it is in the middle of farming country. John Deere wins, but Massey Ferguson (AGCO) beats Case IH and New Holland.

John Deere

Case IH

New Holland

AGCO, specifically Massey Ferguson:

19 Miles Harmony Outdoor Equipment
102 Peckhart Ct.

Auburn , IN   46706
(260) 925-1918

20 Miles Homier & Sons Incorporated
119 North Hyman
Po Box 429
Payne , OH   45880
(419) 263-2912

25 Miles Truelove Bros. Inc.
2255 N. State Road 9
P.O. Box 1
Albion , IN   46701
(260) 636-2151

31 Miles Heritage Farm Equipment Store Inc.
1234 W. Main Street

Van Wert , OH   45891
(419) 238-7278

32 Miles Affolder Impl Sales Inc.
6704 S. Us Hwy 27

Berne , IN   46711
(260) 589-2964


  1. The Ford New Holland Tractor is really one of the best tractor and they are also providing the Ford New Holland Tractor Manuals for the owners so that they can repair their tractor by themselves.

  2. What a fantabulous post this has been. Never seen this kind of useful post. I am grateful to you and expect more number of posts like these. Thank you very much. tractor attachments

  3. My Tractor Forum A family friendly forum community dedicated to all Tractor owners and enthusiasts. Come join the discussion about specifications, modifications