tractorshark

Learning alot, but want more info

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Hey Guys,

I have always been fascinated and interested in learning what went on at the time of IH's demise and what caused it, perhaps it is because I was so young (and impressionable) when it happened. Last night I was doing some searching on the web, here and otherplaces, and noticed that Archie McCardell past away this past year. I didn't see that there was much discussion about it on here.

Perhaps what facinated me the most, about what I found last night, is that everyone seems to have a different opinion on the mix of things that brought down the machinery giant. I am wondering how many of you worked at IH during the 70's and 80's or know someone who did, and what it was like for you/them? Was there alot of pride in the company? I have many ?'s but few answers, and it is always neat to get different points of view. thanks

mark

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You should try and get your hands on a copy of the book "A Corporate Tragedy, by Barbara Marsh"...it has a good inside look.

.....................................Mark

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I started @ FARMALL in OCt. '76 after I got out of college. I actually hired in during a Wildcat strike @ FARMALL. I worked a couple weeks and got bumped onto 2nd shift which I really didn't like. I was doing subassembly on the wide frt axles for the 86-series. I'd get bored and would talk to other people in the dept. and eventually got to know how to do Their jobs as well as the stuff I was supposed to do. Main thing was I'd assemble the steering cylinders & hoses to keep the Guys assembling the axle extensions and tirerods, etc. running. They were running the main line on 1st & 2nd shift then so everything We ran went straight to the line. After about 10-12 weeks I got laid-off when assembly dropped down from 175/day to 145-150/day and 2nd shift assembly was stopped.

My Union Steward came by that night and told Me I could get on @ the East Moline plant which I did for six weeks being a helper on an 8 ft Cincinnati metal cutting shear, cutting & slitting steel sheet into strips & blanks for parts. I really didn't care for that plant like I did FARMALL so I'd keep going back to FARMALL and trying to get back on there. Finally I got hired for My Production Scheduler job, expediting & scheduling gears & shafts thru a gear machining dept. I really enjoyed that. Job lasted 8-9 months and I was laid-off again in Oct.'77. I was lucky enough to get on with UPS for X-mas help and got called back full time mid-Febuary '78 @ UPS.

About 7:30 PM on a Saturday night Dec. 19th, 1978 the phone rings, HR Mgr. @ FARMALL asks if I could come back to work MONDAY....NOBODY quits UPS 2-3 days before Christmas so He said I could start Monday Jan. 3rd. 1979. I was in Material Scheduling, chasing parts into the plant at first from IH. E.Moline, Canton, Shadyside, Ohio, Melrose Pk, IL, and seems like I had some stuff from Memphis Fdy. After 3-4 months they reorganized the department and I was the new Scheduler on the TIRE Desk. MAN I loved that job! And I was REALLY good at it. Along with the tire & rim/wheel suppliers I released paint, couple stampings from a place in Dubuque, IA, engine clutch disc's & pressure plates from Rockford Clutch Div. of Borg-Warner, and O-Rings from National Oil Seal in California and a Minority supplier from Indy.

About 10 months later was the BIG Strike, I got choosen to work in the Mat'l Handling dept. because of My prior truck driving experience to drive the semi-tractor the company leased to move trailers around the plant. I was working six 10 & 12 hr days per week. Strike ended and We started building tractors again, plus getting ready for the 88-series release. We also built ALL the Taco Tractors, big orders of specially equipped 986,1086, & 1486's for Mexico. There were 1200-1500 tractors per batch. All tractors were supposed to have GY tires with mounted duals so there were a HUGE amount of extra tires to keep track of.

The 88-series started production in late Oct. or Sept. if I remember right.....After problems with the pilot run were resolved, things were going good We thought. My Wife and I were expecting Our first child around Thanksgiving, but turns out He was late. On Monday Dec. 7th everybody in Our group gets called into a conference room and We're notified again that all but two of the 13 of Us were being laid-off AGAIN..... My Son was born of Friday Dec. 11th @ 7:04 AM, good excuse for being late Your last day at work I thought.

With the company time I had We weren't sure if I would even be laid-off but the cutback was bigger than anyone expected and eventually I worked My way back up to about third on the call-back list. But never got back.

But FARMALL was a great place to work, There were some people who weren't happy there but that's true of every workplace. On the street where Wife & I bought Our first house in five houses,, next door Neighbor was a General Foreman @ E. Moline, then Me, other next door neighbor was an Inspector at JD Parts Distribution Center in Milan, Next Neighbor was an IT person as various JD plants while We lived there, His Wife was in Production Control @ JD Plow-Planter, Neighbor next to Him was a lead person in Accounting @ Farmall. My Boss and His wife actually lived less than a block away from Us two streets over.

Being in the Quad-Cities which was REALLY biased towards JD I thnk a lot of the IH people worked harder to make sure that the 6000-7000 IH employees in the area made sure JD knew IH was still around. Seems like nothing good was ever in the local papers about IH, and nothing BAD ever written about JD. Sound familiar?

There was probably a HUNDRED suppliers & machine shops who depended on FARMALL to keep their doors open. Companies like Sears Mfg. who made the seats for the 86-series and some of the seats for the 88-series depended on the volume of business with FARMALL. Add all the seats for the E.Molne Plant & JD Harvester works together then double it and You still wouldn't equal the number of seats FARMALL would use in the same period. The local trucking companies bent over backwards to make sure We always got Our freight on time. Just on My tires, wheels, & rims I needed 16 to 18 semi-truck loads of parts A DAY to keep the plant running. Plus there were three semi-truck loads of engines every day from Melrose, and daily shipments from E.Moline to FARMALL ran between two and four truckloads a day, plus two from Canton Plt. Company I ended up driving over-the-road for had the cab contract for hauling cabs from E.Moline to FARMALL. Think there was 7 or 8 cabs per load, so 18 loads of cabs a day. Company later bought 48 ft trailers special for that job, then they could haul nine cabs, so only 16 loads required.

Since that time, having worked for several small manufacturing companies from 25 to 350 people I realize how totally great IH was at manufacturing. They had processes & procedures for EVERYTHING. And this is 20-25 yrs before ISO 9000. I had My first FAX machine in 1979, most companies didn't discover the FAX till the mid-1980's. We had a private IHC only satelite phone sytem where We could call from anywhere TO anywhere and charge the call to Our personal work phone number. IH truely was world class. Their computer system for the whole corporation was centered around FARMALL. Each plant had a plant ID number, FARMALL was #1, E.Moline was #3. We could send e-mails or "Instant Messages to people any in the plant or any other IH plant. I could go into the other side of the computer system and see by part number WHERE parts were, how many there were, how m,any that place used, who the supplier was, costs, etc. Didn't make a difference if it was a truck part, Cub Cadet, You name it. And this was at least 10-12 yrs before Al Gore invented the Internet. The computer systems small and even mid-sized companies use now are primitive in comparison to what IHC had 30 yrs ago.

There really are dozens of reasons why IHC had to sell off divisions to survive. Any one or two reasons they could have dealt with but combine them ALL and they're lucky to still be around. It wasn't Archie's fault, or the UAW, or the Russian Grain Embargo and resulting ag. depression, or the 20+% intersst rates of the early 1980's, Heck, The company had survived much worse in the 80 yrs since IHC had been formed.

I'm kinda biased, having driven My Dad's '51 M when I was about four years old standing between Dad on the seat and the steering wheel.....But IH was VERY good at what they did. And people enjoyed working there. And they got paid very well for working there. And they were treated with respect, at least while there, some of that other ag equipment company's people didn't care for Us but then the feeling was mutual in most cases. And I'm not talking about people at the two J.I.Case plants or two CAT plants that were around the Q-C's.

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I started @ FARMALL in OCt. '76 after I got out of college. I actually hired in during a Wildcat strike @ FARMALL. I worked a couple weeks and got bumped onto 2nd shift which I really didn't like. I was doing subassembly on the wide frt axles for the 86-series. I'd get bored and would talk to other people in the dept. and eventually got to know how to do Their jobs as well as the stuff I was supposed to do. Main thing was I'd assemble the steering cylinders & hoses to keep the Guys assembling the axle extensions and tirerods, etc. running. They were running the main line on 1st & 2nd shift then so everything We ran went straight to the line. After about 10-12 weeks I got laid-off when assembly dropped down from 175/day to 145-150/day and 2nd shift assembly was stopped.

My Union Steward came by that night and told Me I could get on @ the East Moline plant which I did for six weeks being a helper on an 8 ft Cincinnati metal cutting shear, cutting & slitting steel sheet into strips & blanks for parts. I really didn't care for that plant like I did FARMALL so I'd keep going back to FARMALL and trying to get back on there. Finally I got hired for My Production Scheduler job, expediting & scheduling gears & shafts thru a gear machining dept. I really enjoyed that. Job lasted 8-9 months and I was laid-off again in Oct.'77. I was lucky enough to get on with UPS for X-mas help and got called back full time mid-Febuary '78 @ UPS.

About 7:30 PM on a Saturday night Dec. 19th, 1978 the phone rings, HR Mgr. @ FARMALL asks if I could come back to work MONDAY....NOBODY quits UPS 2-3 days before Christmas so He said I could start Monday Jan. 3rd. 1979. I was in Material Scheduling, chasing parts into the plant at first from IH. E.Moline, Canton, Shadyside, Ohio, Melrose Pk, IL, and seems like I had some stuff from Memphis Fdy. After 3-4 months they reorganized the department and I was the new Scheduler on the TIRE Desk. MAN I loved that job! And I was REALLY good at it. Along with the tire & rim/wheel suppliers I released paint, couple stampings from a place in Dubuque, IA, engine clutch disc's & pressure plates from Rockford Clutch Div. of Borg-Warner, and O-Rings from National Oil Seal in California and a Minority supplier from Indy.

About 10 months later was the BIG Strike, I got choosen to work in the Mat'l Handling dept. because of My prior truck driving experience to drive the semi-tractor the company leased to move trailers around the plant. I was working six 10 & 12 hr days per week. Strike ended and We started building tractors again, plus getting ready for the 88-series release. We also built ALL the Taco Tractors, big orders of specially equipped 986,1086, & 1486's for Mexico. There were 1200-1500 tractors per batch. All tractors were supposed to have GY tires with mounted duals so there were a HUGE amount of extra tires to keep track of.

The 88-series started production in late Oct. or Sept. if I remember right.....After problems with the pilot run were resolved, things were going good We thought. My Wife and I were expecting Our first child around Thanksgiving, but turns out He was late. On Monday Dec. 7th everybody in Our group gets called into a conference room and We're notified again that all but two of the 13 of Us were being laid-off AGAIN..... My Son was born of Friday Dec. 11th @ 7:04 AM, good excuse for being late Your last day at work I thought.

With the company time I had We weren't sure if I would even be laid-off but the cutback was bigger than anyone expected and eventually I worked My way back up to about third on the call-back list. But never got back.

But FARMALL was a great place to work, There were some people who weren't happy there but that's true of every workplace. On the street where Wife & I bought Our first house in five houses,, next door Neighbor was a General Foreman @ E. Moline, then Me, other next door neighbor was an Inspector at JD Parts Distribution Center in Milan, Next Neighbor was an IT person as various JD plants while We lived there, His Wife was in Production Control @ JD Plow-Planter, Neighbor next to Him was a lead person in Accounting @ Farmall. My Boss and His wife actually lived less than a block away from Us two streets over.

Being in the Quad-Cities which was REALLY biased towards JD I thnk a lot of the IH people worked harder to make sure that the 6000-7000 IH employees in the area made sure JD knew IH was still around. Seems like nothing good was ever in the local papers about IH, and nothing BAD ever written about JD. Sound familiar?

There was probably a HUNDRED suppliers & machine shops who depended on FARMALL to keep their doors open. Companies like Sears Mfg. who made the seats for the 86-series and some of the seats for the 88-series depended on the volume of business with FARMALL. Add all the seats for the E.Molne Plant & JD Harvester works together then double it and You still wouldn't equal the number of seats FARMALL would use in the same period. The local trucking companies bent over backwards to make sure We always got Our freight on time. Just on My tires, wheels, & rims I needed 16 to 18 semi-truck loads of parts A DAY to keep the plant running. Plus there were three semi-truck loads of engines every day from Melrose, and daily shipments from E.Moline to FARMALL ran between two and four truckloads a day, plus two from Canton Plt. Company I ended up driving over-the-road for had the cab contract for hauling cabs from E.Moline to FARMALL. Think there was 7 or 8 cabs per load, so 18 loads of cabs a day. Company later bought 48 ft trailers special for that job, then they could haul nine cabs, so only 16 loads required.

Since that time, having worked for several small manufacturing companies from 25 to 350 people I realize how totally great IH was at manufacturing. They had processes & procedures for EVERYTHING. And this is 20-25 yrs before ISO 9000. I had My first FAX machine in 1979, most companies didn't discover the FAX till the mid-1980's. We had a private IHC only satelite phone sytem where We could call from anywhere TO anywhere and charge the call to Our personal work phone number. IH truely was world class. Their computer system for the whole corporation was centered around FARMALL. Each plant had a plant ID number, FARMALL was #1, E.Moline was #3. We could send e-mails or "Instant Messages to people any in the plant or any other IH plant. I could go into the other side of the computer system and see by part number WHERE parts were, how many there were, how m,any that place used, who the supplier was, costs, etc. Didn't make a difference if it was a truck part, Cub Cadet, You name it. And this was at least 10-12 yrs before Al Gore invented the Internet. The computer systems small and even mid-sized companies use now are primitive in comparison to what IHC had 30 yrs ago.

There really are dozens of reasons why IHC had to sell off divisions to survive. Any one or two reasons they could have dealt with but combine them ALL and they're lucky to still be around. It wasn't Archie's fault, or the UAW, or the Russian Grain Embargo and resulting ag. depression, or the 20+% intersst rates of the early 1980's, Heck, The company had survived much worse in the 80 yrs since IHC had been formed.

I'm kinda biased, having driven My Dad's '51 M when I was about four years old standing between Dad on the seat and the steering wheel.....But IH was VERY good at what they did. And people enjoyed working there. And they got paid very well for working there. And they were treated with respect, at least while there, some of that other ag equipment company's people didn't care for Us but then the feeling was mutual in most cases. And I'm not talking about people at the two J.I.Case plants or two CAT plants that were around the Q-C's.

Thanks'this is some great insider information.What an awesome experience it would have been to tour Farmall in the 60's,70's and 80's.

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Great post Dr. Evil, always enjoy reading the posts about your time spent at Farmall. We're all still waiting on your book :lol: .

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O.K. Evil Doctor, Great Post! a Book or at least a story in Harvester Highlights and RED POWER would be enjoyed by me and I am sure many others.

Bill

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wow awesome Dr. Evil thanks

That inventory system seems like what is used now, just updated some. (My sister works on the winter build at the Horicon works plant, and she talks about the computer system and its problems.) It sure seems like if they would have been able to get through that strike smoother and one more lean market that things could have turned around for them. sounds like they knew how to maximize manufacturing, and I would agree that their products were first rate. I especially think that the 300/400 series engines are second to none.

It must be a good feeling to see an 86 series tractor out in the field 30 years after you helped it down the line. I know there are feelings both ways on the 86s, but I have a soft spot for them, largely because of our 986 79 model.

Have you kept in touch with some of your old co-workers?

I've been wanting to get that book, haven't been good enough for santa to bring it though, maybe this year. :unsure:

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There's an article coming in the next Red Power that will throw a new light on some stuff that was never public about the union negotiations and the efforts that IH made to stay alive in the early 1980s. Stuff that's not in A Corporate Tragedy at all.

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Guest J.COINTE II

Many thanks for these analysis...

go ahead for future writings !

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wow awesome Dr. Evil thanks

That inventory system seems like what is used now, just updated some. (My sister works on the winter build at the Horicon works plant, and she talks about the computer system and its problems.) It sure seems like if they would have been able to get through that strike smoother and one more lean market that things could have turned around for them. sounds like they knew how to maximize manufacturing, and I would agree that their products were first rate. I especially think that the 300/400 series engines are second to none.

It must be a good feeling to see an 86 series tractor out in the field 30 years after you helped it down the line. I know there are feelings both ways on the 86s, but I have a soft spot for them, largely because of our 986 79 model.

Have you kept in touch with some of your old co-workers?

I've been wanting to get that book, haven't been good enough for santa to bring it though, maybe this year. :unsure:

I remember hearing that IH had an unbelievable system for inventory and mass communication, basically state of the art at that time. Shouldn't surprise anyone as IH was ahead of the curve on so many areas: Scout, TA, first production diesel in a farm tractor, axial flow combine.

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Denny, keep those stories coming!! Still waiting on the book here too! Was glad I got to see that building and grounds before it was undistinguishable. Wish I could have toured it when it was producing Red tractors, was in E.Moline at the Deere Harvester works in 1988-89 and remember seeing alot full of red combines down one street. Would love to have toured E. Moline works too.

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There's an article coming in the next Red Power that will throw a new light on some stuff that was never public about the union negotiations and the efforts that IH made to stay alive in the early 1980s. Stuff that's not in A Corporate Tragedy at all.

GUY - I can't WAIT for the next RPM to get here now!

TRACTORDHARK - I hate to admit it but I walked past those murals thousands of times and never paid all that much attention to them. There was a Titan, 350U, seems like a 460 or 560, maybe an H or M. I thought there were pictures in an old copy of RPM a year or so ago. Plus there's a video MAX ARMSTRONG narrates that shows them well. You can find it by Goggling "FARMALL PLANT" I bet. Think that's how I found it.

I have kept in touch with a couple of My old coworkers. In fact I've worked with a couple since I moved to WI. My one Boss actually made it onto the cover of PURCHASING Magazine about 15-18 yrs ago, He was Materials Mgr. at DANA Corp. in Minnesota. When I see a sharp looking 1086 I find it REALLY hard to believe it's 30 years old now. They still seem brand new to Me. But the 88-series are My favorite. I'd like to own one someday but I need a bigger shop...MY shop door isn't tall enough for the cab to fit in. Guess I could find a nice Non-ROPS 3288 maybe. :D

BUD - Yes, IH was really ahead of the competition is a lot of ways. Seems like their tractors always had a bit of a durability problem some of the other companies didn't have but I always felt that was because their engines were "Over-Achievers". From the faithful old M's up to the 300 & 400 series diesels.

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I sure like to hear those stories DR. Evil. What a great experiance that must have been to work for a giant such as IH. When I toured the combine plant a few years back I noticed many of the employees wearing IH hats & such, not case IH just IH!! Here is a link to the Max Armstrong video that you spoke of. Sent chills down my spine watching this.

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thanks 1256, while I was there, i found some other neat ih stuff about the memphis and canton plants. the memphis one was news footage of when they closed down and the canton one was a history.

It seems like the current situation in the auto industry has some parallels to the IH story.

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It seems like the current situation in the auto industry has some parallels to the IH story.

And in the early 1980's a lot of Us at FARMALL were watching the first Chrysler Bail-Out REAL close. There was a little talk about IH asking for help like Ioccoca did. I heard it didn't happen because IH only employed 35,000 company wide. Chrysler was about ten times that many then.

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I remember hearing that IH had an unbelievable system for inventory and mass communication, basically state of the art at that time. Shouldn't surprise anyone as IH was ahead of the curve on so many areas: Scout, TA, first production diesel in a farm tractor, axial flow combine.

they dropped the ball on pwr. shift though.

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I remember hearing that IH had an unbelievable system for inventory and mass communication, basically state of the art at that time. Shouldn't surprise anyone as IH was ahead of the curve on so many areas: Scout, TA, first production diesel in a farm tractor, axial flow combine.

they dropped the ball on pwr. shift though.

Full range power shift, yes they were behind the curve on that one, but with the T/A, & Hydrostatic tractors IH really didn't need it so soon. And it was on the way.....the Tenneco buy-our delayed things until the Magnum's were released.

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Dr.Evil it seems like yesterday being at Dads shop when up pulls a semi with a 1086 for delivery and the muffler was inside the cab and it had a little rain cap on the exhaust coming out of the hood and the little bracket on the side of the engine frame for lug nuts.....aint that right? and then the 686 with the wheels turned inside out for transportation so we would take them inside the shop and turn the wheels around, what memories, if I remember right those semis carried three 86s for delivery cause I remember we would sometimes receive one and the say other two would be going else where. Harvester allowed a dealer to take delivery on a 86 and they gave one year from delivery for you to sell it and if you didnt you bought it but that was no big deal it always sold in time, when Dad passed away in February of 1980 we had a 1086 rollover and we had to buy it but it sold before long. Dad once went to the plant and picked up a 666 in early 1976 for a farmer who had to have it immediately so him and our cousin went and picked it up and he said he had never seen so many new pretty tractors on one lot in his life and what I would give to have gone with him and took a roll of pictures......woo..... would that be neat to have. Dr. Evil did Harvester give you a choice when IH went out of business to go to work for CaseIH in Racine, Wisconsin or was it we are out of business so here is some unemployment and see ya?

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I remember hearing that IH had an unbelievable system for inventory and mass communication, basically state of the art at that time. Shouldn't surprise anyone as IH was ahead of the curve on so many areas: Scout, TA, first production diesel in a farm tractor, axial flow combine.

they dropped the ball on pwr. shift though.

From the paperwork I have uncovered IH was not going to settle for a powershift.

They wanted Hydromechanical (CVT).

At the time of the merger, IH was VERY close to having it ready to go. The powershift FARMALL aka MAGNUM was going to be a "fill-in" model until the Hydromechanical was built from the papers I have.

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Dr. Evil did Harvester give you a choice when IH went out of business to go to work for CaseIH in Racine, Wisconsin or was it we are out of business so here is some unemployment and see ya?

Actually I was gone before the Tenneco buy-out. My Boss however was still there. He had company time from San Leandro, CA. He ended up at Corp. Purchasing for IHC in suburban Chicago for a few years. Last time I talked to Him maybe 10-12 yrs ago He was travelling around the world buying property for new plants, company stores, etc. His Wife who also worked at FARMALL did leave IH for a while and She's working for Case/IH/NH in Racine.

Most IH people at FARMALL stayed with IH as opposed to going to Case/IH. IH formed a "Master recall List" from all the plant closings. As an opening came up at another plant some of My old co-workers did get back with IH. But it took a lot of years for them to get the calls. Most took the unemployment, found other jobs, I drove over-the-road for 3-4 yrs, then found a job at a local foundry in the quad-cities, then started moving north in steps up to Wisconsin doing about the same thing I did at FARMALL for other smaller manufacturing companies.

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I remember hearing that IH had an unbelievable system for inventory and mass communication, basically state of the art at that time. Shouldn't surprise anyone as IH was ahead of the curve on so many areas: Scout, TA, first production diesel in a farm tractor, axial flow combine.

they dropped the ball on pwr. shift though.

Full range power shift, yes they were behind the curve on that one, but with the T/A, & Hydrostatic tractors IH really didn't need it so soon. And it was on the way.....the Tenneco buy-our delayed things until the Magnum's were released.

A fellow that goes to my church and is in his late 80's told me that IH management was stubborn in its allegience to the TA. He indicated that he, as a blockman and others like him, tried to get IH to come out with a powershift but it was put on the back burner.............

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A fellow that goes to my church and is in his late 80's told me that IH management was stubborn in its allegience to the TA. He indicated that he, as a blockman and others like him, tried to get IH to come out with a powershift but it was put on the back burner.............

Doesn't surprise Me. IH also did that with Frt wheel assist after the 2+2 came out. You look at a Buyers Guide from about 1979 until the 5X88's came out and there's only one little picture of an Elwood equipped tractor in them. Another thing to consider is IH and Their dealers made a LOT of $$$$ repairing & replacing TA's. Dad really didn't have much of a shop in the early 1960's when the TA went out on the Super M-TA. THAT was an expensive trip to town!

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