tractorshark

Learning alot, but want more info

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I think that the tractors would have become a strong suit again for IH. I know we have all probably said "If only they would have had powershift", but I really don't think that powershift earlier would have mattered. There are more than 23,000 3x/5x88's that were sold during a dark period of agriculture. I don't know how this compares to the Greenies, but I don't think that is to bad considering the short run they had(essentially 3 years). Add that to the powershift trans(magnum) coming and maybe the hydromechanical in the wings and maybe they emerge with an unbeatable lineup. I just think that IF they could have stayed afloat 3 or 4 more years, they could have turned things around (easy to say now). For some reason I think that the strike and how it was handled, was the gut shot that sent them staggering.

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The cab was probably a bigger issue for us that Red 66 series cab converted a LOT of people to JD 30 series tractors What would you rather get in and out of and not listen to all that noise?

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R190: our old IH dealer said that they held their own against Deere until the Sound-gard cab came along. After that, it was more obviously Deere's game.

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Spring, Summer, & Fall of '81 the Office help @ FARMALL was talking real strongly about forming a "Prefessional & Technical Union" Company had several meetings trying to persuade people not to do it. Plant Mgr. showed the book He'd Just found out about and got one morning, C.H.Wendell's 150 yrs of IHC. I'd already had Mine for 2-3 months. Plt. Mgr. did make a comment that "IF FARMALL could get orders and BUILD to Capacity that single plant and the effect it had on ALL the other plants could have bailed IH out of their financial mess in 6 months to a year. Problem was FARMALL could build ALL the tractors between 80 & 150 HP that were selling every week in Just TWO DAYS. And You still had Waterloo, Case, Allis, White Farm, Ford, and Massey all chasing that tiny market at the time. Out of ALL the plants IH had FARMALL and one other plant, think it was one of the plants in LVL did not have an office union. The lay-off that got Me in Dec. '81 was supposedly done "By Senority. My dept. was a VERY high stress area, Being an air traffic controller at O'Hare would have been easier, so anybody who had any time with IH bid out of that dept. Only young people with not much time in the whole place. That's why 11 of 13 got laid-off in one shot. OUCH!

The large 2 WD ag tractor market actually died during the Big Strike. IH was bleeding badly during that time but at least they weren't building more tractors to ship and sit on dealer's lots. And the weekly payroll was quite a bit smaller for 4-5 months.

There were so many things going on at that time, high interest rates on the Boat-load of debt IH had, costs from the strike with no $$$$ coming in, Costs from developing the Axial-Flow & the 5X88's all with borrowed $$$$, The Russian grain embargo, bigger tractors and changing ag practices going towards minimum-till and no-till. Later on the millions of acres taken out of production with CRP, and there was a program similar to that before CRP but I can't remember the name or initials.

If You go back in time I've heard people say the fact that the 2-piece TA case in Super M-TA's was not as stout as 1-piece case in the 400/450/560 & later tractors was the start of IH's downfall, and that they didn't license the Fast-Hitch to JD. I've always heard that JD took the market lead in the late 50's during their 620/630/720/730 production but I can't really believe there's more of them around than there are 400/450/460/560's. 4010/4020's, Yes, there's more of them than 706/806's. We all discussed the 86-series Control Center compared to the Sound-Gard cab a month ago.... Maybe My 86-series IH-produced cab bias is showing but IH never had a cab until the 86 & 88-series. The EXCEL Diamond cab was O-K but I never cared for the cabs on the 66-series.

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That first program was Payment In Kind, or PIK- gave farmers grain out of storage in order to reduce grain in storage.

Tenneco was very blunt at the time that they needed to reduce overcapacity in tractor manufacturing. IH had already been looking at closing Farmall. Just too big.

Just think of the factory capacity that's gone in the tractor industry. AGCO does nothing in the US anymore, eliminating Allis,Massey and White factories from that time. Farmall is gone. Clausen Works is gone, Case IH is manufacturing at the transmission plant. Louisville is gone. Basically down to Waterloo new factory (old factory is gradually closing down) Case Steiger plant and Mount Pleasant Plant, Buhler in Winnepeg, the CNH factory in Georgia assembling Farmalls. Did I miss any left?

Dr. Evil, I was thinking about the workforce at Farmall. I know assembling a tractor is different than assembling a car, lots more complicated systems. Could you talk about the guys on the line? You've already talked about the machining there which was more skilled labor.

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Hi guys!! I don't often post on this board, but I noticed that Dr Evil metioned the Chrysler loan in the early 80's. I worked for Chrysler from 76 until Jan 79. I was pretty young, but the organization didn't impress me much. Sounds like IH really had a better system for inventory. Chrysler built every car for a "sales bank" - we ran all white cars one day, blue the next, and so on. They really couldn't build a car to order for a customer. A lot of options on a Chrysler were dealer installed - the assembly guys would throw things in the trunk for the dealer to do. They ended up with a huge inventory that almost killed them. It was a good place to work. I think in that time period, Chrysler had about 150K employees, about 50K in Detroit proper. I really don't think that the number of employees was the reason Chrysler got the loan from the government. It was pretty much a Lee Iococaa show, all the way. For example, when he took over, Chrysler had 19 vp's. He fired Every single One. He basically took over everything in the corporation. He went to Washington, did the lobbying, went on tv, did ads, negotiated with the union - simply told the union that this was the deal, take it or leave it. The UAW really had no recourse, he had all the cards. Without him, there was no future, and they knew it. Lee Iococaa was a tremendous salesman, and a true leader. And very tough. Maybe if IH had somebody like him, there would still be Farmalls being made. Just think - "If you can find a better tractor, buy it!!"

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If You go back in time I've heard people say the fact that the 2-piece TA case in Super M-TA's was not as stout as 1-piece case in the 400/450/560 & later tractors was the start of IH's downfall, and that they didn't license the Fast-Hitch to JD. I've always heard that JD took the market lead in the late 50's during their 620/630/720/730 production but I can't really believe there's more of them around than there are 400/450/460/560's. 4010/4020's, Yes, there's more of them than 706/806's. We all discussed the 86-series Control Center compared to the Sound-Gard cab a month ago.... Maybe My 86-series IH-produced cab bias is showing but IH never had a cab until the 86 & 88-series. The EXCEL Diamond cab was O-K but I never cared for the cabs on the 66-series.

DE, always nice to read your stories. Could you explain more about the SMTA T/A 2 piece case compared to 1 piece in 400/450/560. Didn't think there was hardly any difference. Dave

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SPOOK - Every morning @ FARMALL I got an inventory report that was run out of the Automated storage & retrieval system for tires, wheels, & rims. "IF" I had an order that I was short a tire, wheel, or rim for it would give Me the region, branch, & dealer order number for that tractor. That didn't happen very often until You got a day or so out in the future production. BUT, FARMALL offered "BRAND PREFERENCE" on tires, If You wanted Firestone, GY, or BFG tires on Your tractor You paid an extra $100 retail and THAT brand was specified on the order and the prime rear tires and mounted duals if ordered would be that brand. On 86-series tractors there was no Brand Pref. on fronts, just rears, either 2 wd or FWA. Seems lke Firestone was My supplier of choice for the small FWA tires, with GY as an alternate. With the branch & region order number I could access the on-line order for THAT tractor I had the shortage on and most times dealers would put the Customer's name & phone number on the order. With a few key strokes of the computer in 1980 I could actually CALL the Farmer and discuss if He REALLY wanted those GY tires on His new 1086! On 2+2's all four prime tires and any mounted duals had to match. And any mounted duals were built on 2nd shift. The line would keep track of non-brand-specific tractors that needed duals mounted up, size, ply, brand.....and sure enough every afternoon about 3-4 PM I'd get a call for two or four tires of a specific brand, size, & ply. I finally played with the way I released tires to ship to play into the Logic of the ASRS's computer and that became a much less frequent problem. Although I did get a couple phone calls from the plant a couple nights and had to run back into work and get some people at suppliers out of bed a few times!

GUY - I never really ever worked on the main or finish assembly lines. Closest I ever got was one night when I was working sub-assembly on front axles when I got collared by My Forman, and handed a 1/4" NC tap clamped into a small pair of Vice-Grip's, handled a stool and walked over to the start line. The tap for a wire harness mounting clip had broken on the machining center and a dozen radiator/grill supports got sent to the line for assembly missing the threads. I had to tap that hole before they went into the paint booth. Kinda P-O'd the Guys on the line because I was in their way sometimes. I tapped the holes and got out of their way and went back to My job!

For the most part the assemblers on the lines really knew their stuff, Doing the same thing 140-150 times a day You'd expect that. The "BUILD TICKETS" that can't be found anymore were stuck right in certain spots on the tractors as they went down the line, and assemblers were constantly grabbing them to make sure the correct options got on each tractor, Inspectors at all the different locations along the lines had to initial them because process and Inspection sheets were with the build tickets.

Like most places where You work closely with people 40 hrs a week There were conversations going on ALL the time about everything BUT work, but at 145 tractors a day, You only had about three minutes to do Your assigned assembly operations....so You couldn't mess around. Most places there was at least 3 people working on A tractor. Some operations required 2-3 people like setting the cabs on, installing the frt axles, espcially Elwood's. Sliding the rear tires/wheels/rims on was actually only a 1-man operation with the hoist setup they had. If something was screwed-up or damaged on the tractor there really wasn't time to correct it AND complete Your normal work so it was noted on the Inspection sheet and was fixed in the repair loop between the start & finish lines. That didn't happen very often but it did happen. My Boss told Me during the strike He was assigned to work in the repair loop.....mostly doing simple stuff but one day He grabbed the paperwork and it was ALL scribbed up.....tractor was supposed to be a factory TA-Delete but got a TA installed. He worked on a couple OTHER tractors that day.

IH watched the number of tractors coming off the start line and finish line each day compared to "The Plan". A day where they met the plan happened frequently, if They didn't, and they had to stop the line for some reason, there better be reasons and plans for making sure THAT situation didn't happen again by the end of the day. Also days when 100% O-K tractors came off the lines happened frequently and You'd hear about them the next morning.

Tractors started in a specific planned order down the start line but the order was changed coming out of the repair loop and when tractors were released there was only a few minutes to get the Control Center up on the lift to set down on the mounts. And maybe a half hour to get the tires rims & wheels mounted & staged to go on conveyors over to the line. The computer in the ASRS was supposed to be able to pull tires, rims, & wheels by branch & region order number but the tire room seldom did that. They had common tires & rims sitting around and used those them would replentish those parts by part number. Assembly always took priority over inputting parts into the ASRS which made it just that much harder to make sure the right "Stuff" was on hand. I had to unload at least 16 semi loads of tires, wheels, & rims every day. We could still unload duals in the west yard for unmounted duals to ship either via rail or from Kohler Releasing but they became a "manual Inventory item" then that didn't appear on any of My reports. We also had export orders to Saltillio (Mexico), Geelong (Austrailia), and sometimes Broadview Parts that normally the Supervisor wold call Me on and I'd make special arrangements for them but I did have a couple loads of them "Disappear" from time-to-time. Worst case was when an entire semi-load of 600-700 batteries for the 2+2's, they used a bigger battery than the 86-series, "Disappeared" and it took Me about 2 hours to find out they shipped to Fargo that morning....same battery was used either 2 or 3 per tractor on the 43,45, & 4786's. But 600+ was over a MONTH's supply and I needed them to build 2+2's THAT afternoon! Our Traffic Mgr. was able to get the trucking company to contact their driver (This was WAY before cell phones & GPS) and get Him back to Rock Island in time. I'm not 100% positive but heard that the IA or MN State Patrol was involved in that deal. Then there was the time I had to call the Traffic Mgr @ JD Harvester who happened to be My 4-H Club advisor many years before to chase some Rockford Clutch parts into FARMALL that had spent the night waiting to get unloaded @ JD. If We didn't have clutch discs or pressure plates WE didn't build tractors. We chatted on the phone a minute, Then I told Him what I needed....He asked Me "Well, Which plant do You work at now?" I just said "FARMALL" and there was a l-o-n-g pause. He said. "O-K, Let Me make a call..." The truck backed into MY dock in about 20 minutes. Either it had JUST been unloaded or He got that truck unloaded in a BIG hurry. I never got a chance to talk to the driver or His Dispatcher to see what happened.

Anyhow, As We all know lots of the little things on these tractors take special skills & tools to assemble, but it helps IF You can do that work without lots of other stuff in the way like when they're being assembled. With any kind of luck it took about 1-1/2 days for the tractor to drive off the end of the finish line after the rear tub or MAINFRAME was set on the lines which fed the start line. If I remember right there were something like five short rearend lines that fed the start line. I think there was one for 15's, Hydro's, 686's when they were built on the main lines. The Steiger rearends were built in a different location, still on the east end but away from the other lines to make them easier to haul to shipping to go to Fargo. There were so many different but similar parts required up in that area it was quite a madhouse. I inventoried that area once or twice on a Saturday when I was in Production Scheduling. And the engine trim line was also up on the east end, stuff like A/C compressors, alternators, radiator & heater hoses, clutches, etc. all attached before the engines merged with the start line.

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Awesome stories from your days @ Harvester, Dr. EVIL! I always enjoy reading them. :D

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Were the control centers already pre-assembled, as far as hyd levers, shift levers, etc.? If they were, which I am assuming is the case, I would guess it was pretty important to keep the order of cabs matched with the order of tractors, did the computer system have that capability, or was that something the assemblers were responsible for?

I also seem to remember a little metalic tag with a date on, under the cab liner just to the left hand side of the shift levers on our 986, is that date the actual build date? If so, ours was built in may of 79 if my memory serves correct.

again thanks

mark

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Keep talking Dr Evil i love hearing your storys. :rolleyes:

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I have been asked to pin this topic so it stays at the top.

Sallie

Thanks Sallie!

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Were the control centers already pre-assembled, as far as hyd levers, shift levers, etc.? If they were, which I am assuming is the case, I would guess it was pretty important to keep the order of cabs matched with the order of tractors, did the computer system have that capability, or was that something the assemblers were responsible for?

I also seem to remember a little metalic tag with a date on, under the cab liner just to the left hand side of the shift levers on our 986, is that date the actual build date? If so, ours was built in may of 79 if my memory serves correct.

again thanks

mark

MARK - I did get down into the basement where they stored the cabs occasionally, The Forman of that area also was in charge of My Tire Dock. Seems to Me that the shift & hyd. levers were were put on towards the front of the "Start Line" before the tractor went thru the paint booth, because first thing out of paint the batteries were installed and an Inspector jumped on and gave the tractor it's first running test, checked speed & range shifting, clutch, brakes, etc. and the cab wasn't installed until about half-way thru the "Finish assembly Line". The instrument/steering column was assembled above the end of the start line and came down a conveyor line and was added to the tractor for this test run but wasn't bolted on securely. I remember the Inspector had to hold the steering wheel to stabilize it when working the clutch & brakes.

Cabs were kept track of by part number. There were "Non-ROPS", and "ROPS", then basic cabs with black vinyl interior, then red cloth, then the Western. If I remember right everything had heater & A/C but were separated by if they had AM/FM radios or AM/FM/8-track or just AM radios. I don't think cassette decks were available in the 86-series, but maybe Dealer installed. But You multiply the three color options and the radio options and cabs got complicated in a hurry. The build sheets on the tractors had all the attachment codes for the options required on them, and gave a brief discription of what was required and normally the assemblers did a fine job of keeping track of what order the cabs needed to be in to match the order the tractors came out of the repair loop.

The whole cab framework, roof, windows, heater/AC components, lights & wiring, and radio was all assembled and bolted to two steel skids so they could be moved around on roller conveyors after they were delivered from E.Moline Plt. If I remember right there was no floor in them, and about all there was for the back was the window and a partition to cover the rear fuel tank. At the start of the Finish Line the first parts to get put on the tractor were the fuel tank/tanks and the seat & seat suspension. The FINISH line wasn't near as long as the Start line so parts were flying on the tractor at a pretty good rate. Tractors spent about a whole day on the start line, and only about an hour on the finish line.

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The 'cab' is two parts. The lower part has the instruments, steering wheel, controls, shifters, hyd levers and seat (all painted red). The upper cab contains all the glass, cab, a/c, fenders, etc (painted mostly black). It makes sense they were installed seperately. I allways wondered how they were installed (I figured they were installed seperately).

I have a replacement cab for my H186 (the previous owner ran into a tree or something bad). I only plan to replace the top halve because the replacement cab came off a 1586. The service manual actually shows this removal but I cannot figure out why anyone would remove the upper cab unless they were to replace it.

It sounds like the farmall plant was set up for high volume efficency. It should have been very profitable during the days of high volume tractor sales (50s-70s). However we had a fundamental change in large tractor sales in 1980. It seems IH could not make the neccessary changes to adapt. My best guess is that the farmall plant at full capacity could produce more CATIII tractors in a year than all manufactures combined now sell.

It is sad but we/they are a victim of success. Newer bigger tractors sell to replace the smaller tractors so you can farm more ground. As you get bigger with bigger tractors, you need less tractors. Less tractors are sold because there are less farmers needed and there are so many good used tractors on the market (IH claimed you could farm with your 66 tractor for 30 years). At some point alot of farmers and manufactures had to get out and it happened in the early 80s in a big way. It hurt all of us involved (I still have strong memories of that time). It is still going on at a slower pace, esp with dealers now. Unfortunately the biggies have gotten out of the small tractor markets and all the junky imports are filling the market.

Thx-Ace

MARK - I did get down into the basement where they stored the cabs occasionally,...

...The whole cab framework, roof, windows, heater/AC components, lights & wiring, and radio was all assembled and bolted to two steel skids so they could be moved around on roller conveyors after they were delivered from E.Moline Plt. If I remember right there was no floor in them, and about all there was for the back was the window and a partition to cover the rear fuel tank. At the start of the Finish Line the first parts to get put on the tractor were the fuel tank/tanks and the seat & seat suspension. The FINISH line wasn't near as long as the Start line so parts were flying on the tractor at a pretty good rate. Tractors spent about a whole day on the start line, and only about an hour on the finish line.

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It sounds like the farmall plant was set up for high volume efficency. It should have been very profitable during the days of high volume tractor sales (50s-70s). However we had a fundamental change in large tractor sales in 1980. It seems IH could not make the neccessary changes to adapt. My best guess is that the farmall plant at full capacity could produce more CATIII tractors in a year than all manufactures combined now sell.

Thx-Ace

FARMALL had to build at least 100 tractors per day to break even. They never scheduled less than 110-115/day because they knew things would always happen like having to airfreight parts, do some rework, whatever to increase costs and therefore loose money on continuing operations. It was better for them to schedule a plant shutdown and lay people off than to build at a loss.

The plant was a Money Maker for IHC. They bought so many parts from other IH plants that to keep FARMALL running at capacity even in 1981/1982 FARMALL alone would have generated enough profit to bail ALL of IHC out of debt. Now that said, the highest daily rate run when I was there was 175/day on two shifts, and We could run 145-150/day easily on one shift, so "At Capacity" means 300+ tractors per day, 1500 per week. And one week in 1981 ALL tractors between 80 & 150 hp sold only totalled something like 225-230 tractors. There was mention in Barbara Marsh's book about FARMALL being closed and tractor production moving to Mexico, probably Salitillio, and running production 24-7 to keep up with demand. To put the weekly production into perspective the highest daily rate I ever heard of from FARMALL was 325 tractors per day in the early 1950's during the start of Super H/Super M production with FARMALL sending enough parts to LVL to build another 50 Super M's every day for 375/day total, 1875 tractors per week.

Farming practices have changed greatly today due to cost of inputs required. Technology changes in planting, weed control, and tillage are much different than 30 yrs ago. And the number of farmers in active crop production is WAY down. The days of a farmer having two M's and an H to form 160 acres and raise 40-50 head of cattle and 300-400 head of hogs and make a good living are gone.

I don't know what total national tractor production is now but I could probably find out what Waterloo is building right now. My Buddy just went on a plant tour a month ago to see His old Boss's new JD being built. It shouldn't be too hard to add up the few other plant's production still building equipment

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I found TOTAL tractor sales for the first half of 2000 to be 23,895 (http://farmindustrynews.com/news/Tractor-sales-drop). If we take that as a basis (I actually expect tractor sales are lower than that now) then the yearly tractor sales for the US would be 50,000. If Farmall could make 1500 tractors a week and ran 50 weeks a year they would make 75,000 tractors a year. So the Farmall plant could make 25,000 more tractors each year than all the tractors sold by all companies in 2000.

I realize those calculations are somewhat off the cuff but they illustrate the overcapacity in tractor production at that time.

These figures are very interesting to me. After college I worked as a Process Engineer for five years before returning to the farm when my father's health got bad. I did alot of economic analysis (like this but much more complicated). I used to analyze potential projects for profitablilty and recomend them based on return on investment. I also analized ongoing operations for profitablility. I even helped customers analyze their operations. I was very good at what I did and although it paid well it was not rewarding to me personally. I made more money in one year then than I do in five now. I would never have recomended my farming operation based on economic analysis.

Thank you Dr Evil for all the great information.

Thx-Ace

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I talked to a friend who used to be an IH, then CaseIH deler (bought a dealership around 1980). I asked him how many new tractors were sold each year in the US. He said he has not read the number recently but it was around 50,000 a few years ago. So I guess the calculations are not too far off. Thx-Ace

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Archie can't be totally blamed for the collapse,IH had been in trouble or marginal in profit for 30-40 years before Archie,due to poor business decisions by several individuals.Fowler McCormick comes to mind with his obsession to knock Cat out of #1 in construction,also the poor decision to stay in the refrigerator market with only about 1% of it.Yet construction and refrigeration businesses put alot of strain on Harvester's budget which was not adequate to service all divisions wit adequate r&d money.The result was failed finals in construction ie TD-24's and TD-25's,agriculture ie the 60 series finals,and the reason for IH's trail to JD in cutting edge tractor technology.She was on the road back in the 80's,but time and money had run out.Thankfully the trucks were saved and we still have Navistar.

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I'm certainly no business strategist, but you might read up on what you can find about gentleman named John McCaffrey and then consider what happened to IH after the sales division was allowed by Brooks McCormick and other key members of the management board to make many of the major marketing decisions, ultimately disregarding reports of the corporation's financial conditions and engineering's status reports of development and testing of new products.

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Units per year

Under 40 HP

2008 98,976

2007 115,935

2006 122,340

2005 127,403

2004 133,775

2003 125,728

2002 97,785

40 & under 100 HP

2008 67,885

2007 78,137

2006 75,555

2005 75,684

2004 71,135

2003 60,322

2002 53,771

100 HP & Over

2008 26,291

2007 20,875

2006 16,682

2005 19,771

2004 19,885

2003 14,234

2002 13,799

Total 2-wheel drive

2008 193,152

2007 214,947

2006 214,577

2005 222,858

2004 224,795

2003 200,284

2002 165,355

4 Wheel Drive

2008 4,431

2007 3,657

2006 2,988

2005 3,638

2004 3,604

2003 2,823

2002 2,680

http://www.aem.org/

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Are those numbers for tractors sold in the US?

In any case, that is not very many 100+HP tractors per year.

Thx-Ace

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Any feedback on the article I did in the current Red Power?

Good article, Guy, covererd a lot of "unknown grey" area between 1980 to the final days. I'm really gonna have to read it again, to make sure I didn't miss anything.

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Any feedback on the article I did in the current Red Power?

Guy I thought your article was great. Would love to hear more about the time from when McCardell left through the merger and the early days of caseIH.

Al

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