Jump to content

The last of the FARMALL PLANT was sold


Recommended Posts

   This is not new news,  the transaction was official October of 2018, but McLaughlin Body, formerly of Moline with a satelite plant in East Moline was renting space in the old FARMALL Plant in it's Quad-City Industrial Mall stage of existence.  But effective October 2018 McLaughlin Body BOUGHT the last 550,000 square feet of remaining manufacturing space. Those familiar with the plant, that's everything left at the west end of the plant.

   Until I stumbled onto the story yesterday afternoon I had heard nothing about this. McLaughlin makes cabs, they made cabs for FARMALL, I remember truck loads of CO-190 cabs and their Diamond T clones sitting in their yard in Moline across from Consumer's ready to leave town.  And anybody that's spent time in a green combine has been in a McLaughlin cab. Think they made cabs for Case construction equipment too.

    The idea of buying the old FARMALL Plant is to reinforce the idea the company is going to be located in the Quad-Cities for good.  No more renting or leasing plant space so they can pack up and leave if they get a better offer.

   Most of the rest of the plant has been torn down. There's a picture looking under the railroad viaduct that you can see clear across the Sylvan Slough to Arsenal Island.  It looks like the Motor Building, the 4-story building right next to the main gate on the east edge of the plant may still be standing, but not much left between that and the west end.  Last time I actually snooped around there was about 2011-2012,  that leveled area was filled with green/yellow corn planters.  Jim Wagner, past FARMALL Plant manager would turn in his grave at that thought.  His #2 man, Bob Dorigan would not like it either.

   ANYHOW, a search for "Quad-City Times FARMALL Plant sold" should get you a half hour of reading.

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 7
Link to post
Share on other sites
13 hours ago, DOCTOR EVIL said:

ANYHOW, a search for "Quad-City Times FARMALL Plant sold" should get you a half hour of reading.

One hour later......  

Link to post
Share on other sites

DOCTOR EVIL,  Can you update me on the logistics of the aforementioned plant and the 'old Farmall plant' in Rock Island?  Wasn't the Rock Island plant by the river and now owned by the Mecum Auction people?  Unfortunately I am not familiar enough of that area.

Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, WESnIL said:

DOCTOR EVIL,  Can you update me on the logistics of the aforementioned plant and the 'old Farmall plant' in Rock Island?  Wasn't the Rock Island plant by the river and now owned by the Mecum Auction people?  Unfortunately I am not familiar enough of that area.

  The place where Mecum was going to have their auction in a week or so was EAST MOLINE,  on the grounds of the IH East Moline Plant.  The last truck loads of that plant were hauled off summer of 2006.  The exposition center Mecum was having their auction in was brand new, I haven't seen it yet, but I think Mecum rented it, I don't think they invested any money in it.  All that property is right on the Moline/East Moline border.  The old IH East Moline Plant and John Deere Harvester were roughly a MILE apart, the Deere plant was further east.

   FARMALL PLANT was just across the Moline border in Rock Island,  about 4 miles straight west of the East Moline Plant. You drove on Moline streets up to the guard shack at the back gate entrance to FARMALL, and as soon as you started past the guard shack you were in Rock Island.  The articles J-Mech read had aerial pictures of FARMALL, the plant was just over 2 miles long east to west.  There was a yard west of the plant, called KOHLER RELEASING, they loaded and shipped truck loads of tractors for FARMALL for contract trucking companies that dropped trailers for loading, companies like Warren Transfer or TENNANT TRUCK Lines. Dealer's trucks normally loaded at FARMALL I think.

      There wasn't a lot of room inside FARMALL to drop trailers for loading/unloading, but we did have a concrete drive from the plant west towards Kohler Releasing we dropped empty trailers on, room for 20+ trailers.  I figured up one day how many semi-trailers of stuff I was responcible for getting into FARMALL, 16 truck loads of tires, wheels, & rims every day, all 45 ft trailers. Other stuff like engine clutches, hood stampings for 2+2's, o-rings,  probably 2-3 truck loads a month.  A LOT of trucking companies had big terminals around the Quad-Cities, especially Rock Island. Roadway Express, American Freightways, Yellow Freight, H&W Express, later Standard Forwarding, and I'm forgeting quite a few.  It was a really easy place to get freight into.

   Further west of FARMALL, downtown Rock Island reached the riverbank, but west of that J.I. Case had a plant they built the 4 cylinder engines the Case Burlington, Iowa plant installed in their tractor/loader/backhoes. I believe their Rock Island plant also built a few small tractors as well.

    IH also had a region sales office in Bettendorf, dealers from the area sent their orders for equipment there.  Think there was 7-8 regional sales offices in the US.  My wife applied for a job there after we got married. The guy she talked to was shocked anybody knew about that office. They had no openings.

   A planning organization called The Bi-State Metropolitan Planning Commission does most of the big planning projects for the area, where the Mississippi River bridges go, where the Interstates run thru the cities, I-80 and I-74 criss-cross the cities, I-80 &-280 circle the cities, and where bridges cross the rivers, Mississippi and Rock River, matters.

  • Like 2
  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Here are some picture I took back in 2011 when I came home from the Half Centry show I drove down there to take a look . Darn sad they tore down the Farmall plant , it sure would of make a nice place for Red Power Roundup ?

Danny

2075EA6A-7AFF-4111-B759-80FF9FCCADB1.jpeg

DD0D04CD-22DD-4187-89EA-A28463250BD7.jpeg

4CF10D1F-A64A-4652-A3B8-207E3C31CC72.jpeg

DDEC2218-D1B3-4326-8FBA-78B7A0890987.jpeg

  • Like 2
  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
On 3/2/2021 at 12:10 PM, DOCTOR EVIL said:

  

    IH also had a region sales office in Bettendorf, dealers from the area sent their orders for equipment there.  Think there was 7-8 regional sales offices in the US.  My wife applied for a job there after we got married. The guy she talked to was shocked anybody knew about that office. They had no openings.

   

IIRC the Quad Cities regional office was abbreviated as QUAFE on company letters and bulletins.   Always assumed it meant  QUad cities Farm Equipment.  Maybe a teletype address?  Brian

Link to post
Share on other sites
9 minutes ago, E160BHM said:

IIRC the Quad Cities regional office was abbreviated as QUAFE on company letters and bulletins.   Always assumed it meant  QUad cities Farm Equipment.  Maybe a teletype address?  Brian

Yes, your probably correct on the teletype or twx address.  I think I actually had the first FAX machine at FARMALL compliments of BFG.  It was the old style you dialed the fax phone number and put the handset into the saddle.  I had people from all over the office come over to use it after word got out I had it. BFG went through lots of headaches to get a special dedicated phone line run into FARMALL's office at BFG's expense and BFG's expense for the monthly phone charges.  Now days FAX and emails are something we take for granted WAY too much.

 

DANNY -  Neat pictures.  The top two are of the east employee parking lot that IH put up FARMALL'S second automated storage and retrieval warehouse in, the dock doors are those at the right.  The high building was known as The MOTOR BUILDING from way back from the 1920's and '30's. It was 4 stories, and I'm sad to say I never was above the 2nd floor,  the shops "Burden Stores", was on the 2nd floor, where you got your work gloves, work aprons, replacement safety glasses,  with the properly signed requisition of course. There was a copy machine on the first floor I used quite a bit.

   What's sad is things like the GEAR LAB where the first piece of every gear set-up at every operation was inspected and approved, was tore down,  the WHITE ROOM where the HYDRO pumps & motors were assembled,  climate controlled, only filtered air under positive pressure kept the room at hospital operating cleanliness.  People like me could look in the window, but if you didn't have the right badge don't even think about trying to walk in.

  I remember driving by FARMALL the first time as a young boy, about early/mid 1960's, the west yard was absolutely full of tires, wheels, and rims on skids stacked 20+ ft high.  My tire, wheel, rim automated storage & retrieval warehouse eliminated ALL that outside storage. And the computer that controlled it gave me a fresh inventory sheet every morning.   FARMALL was about a bit over 2 years ahead of Mother Deere with that technology. And last I heard ours worked better.

  • Like 7
Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, nepoweshiekfarmalls said:

What year did the assembly line building with the murals on the wall meet the wrecking ball?

That wall was torn down between 2005 and 2010, I think closer to 2005.  The captiion of the picture in the Quad-City Times article said FARMALL EMPLOYEES painted the murals.  ABSOLUTELY WRONG. A woman was contracted to paint the murals in 1977. Co-worker and I worked in a production control scheduling office in the shop and walked up to a coffee machine a couple days a week. The woman milked that job for the entire summer!  Very little traffic other than foot traffic on that aisle. Murals were not really that detailed or big either.  Max Armstrong made a video of the return of several FARMALL's back to FARMALL, ROLLIE here was lucky enough to be in that video too, think on his Super M, but that video actually shows a couple of the murals kinda close up, say 6-8 ft away.

   My Sister was lucky enough to get me my "Farmall Brick", the demolition contractor noticed the pile of bricks for the first dumptruck load the next morning were nearly gone by the next morning. So he hung around and started selling them after hours.

   I suspect another place I worked at will be torn down sometime soon.  The Halsey-Taylor THERMOS Plant on Rt 75 East in Freeport, Illinois.  I worked there 1989 to 1992.

  • Like 3
  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

@DOCTOR EVIL you need to write a book!!! I love hearing your stories about Farmall, and it sure is sad that IH couldn’t get past the 80’s!!! I sure wish I could have seen those 42 acres under 1 roof!!! 
Anyone with pictures of Farmall Works would be awesome to see in this post!! 

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

Memories.  The last drive through that Doc E. mentioned was done in December of 2007.  As I look back now I appreciate even more the chance to help set that up and be in it.  The demolition really got into high gear just a few weeks after we were there.  Three of us went back shortly after the drive and salvaged the  circular staircase that is now displayed at Penfield, Illinois.  We carried it out of the building dodging the track hoes with shears on them clipping down the building!  At the time we were concerned about rights to the pictures and videos that were taken but I don't think that's a factor anymore.  I'll see what I can come up with.   Rollie

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

That was an awesome video!!! Thanks jass1660!!
I’m happy to be 40, and born in the era I was, but when posts like this, about Farmall, I do wish I was older, to have been able to go see such a great facility!! 
Danny said it best, if that plant was still standing, that would have been one h*ll of a spot for Red Power shows!!! 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

ROLLIE - Glad to see your post.  What was "Upstairs" from that circular stairway?  There was a row of offices for supervisors, formen, and Superintendants along the start assembly line. There was also a small assembly area where the instrument panels were built, 6-8 women did the assembly.  I was only up their one time to interview for a forman position the last couple days of the BIG strike of '79 & '80.  Upper management decided I was more valuable in my tire/wheel/rim job than supervising fork truck drivers so I didn't get the promotion.  The locker rooms were upstairs in the rafters too. Last couple months I worked in the shop in 1977 I wore clean work clothes to work, changed into my dirty work clothes, then showered and put my clean clothes back on before I left work.  I hated working 2nd shift but was really nice having your mornings free to do things.

     I can see I'll have to go to PENFIELD next summer. Last time I was there was 2002 RPRU.

     FARMALL1066 - At first I didn't think the FARMALL PLANT would have had enought room for a RPRU but actually I think it would.  Yep, would have been the perfect place to have it.

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Denny!   We could see that there were offices up there on the second level.  The engineer that was with the group on the drive through day, Bill Borghoff, told us of the subassembly that took place up there.  That staircase was about the only piece of red paint in existence in the old plant.  We didn't really have an idea of what we would do with the stairs but we had to ask if we could save them.  Glad we did.  Fun to see them in place at Penfield.  Rollie

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

ROLLIE - I'm glad you got the steps and made them accessable to the general public.  Now that Volks Wagen has bought the last of IH, the trucks, history is going to get cloudy about what once was one of the largest manufacturing companies in the US.

    My FARMINGTON video #8 included a map, or floor plan of FARMALL, has brief descriptions of what was machined where, shows where the 4100 series tractors were built out on the west end.  That sheet alone was worth the price of the DVD, and that one whole CD was about the changes and inovations FARMALL made to build the 5x88 series tractors, a 105 minutes of ALL about FARMALL.

   One of those Quad-City Times articles says a few former FARMALL employees still get together once a week.  Wish I lived a little closer I'd stop in.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Farmall 666, The staircase is in the vendor building at the north side of the I & I show grounds.  It's a Morton type building that has an upper deck on one side for extra storage area.  Only open during I & I events. Sometimes they rope it off so you can't walk up but you can always see it.  Rollie

Link to post
Share on other sites

One article shows that a new addition was added to build the 88 series in early 79', then the plant announced it's closing in late 84'. What went so wrong in 5 years? Upper management, technology, marketing,.......?

Link to post
Share on other sites
22 hours ago, messer9696 said:

One article shows that a new addition was added to build the 88 series in early 79', then the plant announced it's closing in late 84'. What went so wrong in 5 years? Upper management, technology, marketing,.......?

The seeds of demise of IH were planted decades before the end.  Barbara Marsh’s book that Rainman mentions is a good postmortem from an outsider’s perspective. I remember reading a comment (do not remember where..) that IH did not face any greater obstacles than other companies, but they seemed to always seemed to choose what was in hindsight the wrong path.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

The problems were recognized long before the 80s.  A low percentage profitability seemed to be acceptable extending back many years.  Somewhere I have a copy of a speech Brooks McCormick made in the early 70s when he took his final position.  Essentially he said that if major changes weren't made in the profitability of the company, in 10 years he and his staff would have no company left to run and many organizational changes were made throughout the 70s toward this goal.  But the extent of the changes required were beyond what any insider could make.  He finally retired and brought in McArdell to try to turn things around, but it would have taken a complete reorganization of the company which would have been even less popular that what McArdell did.  No, I wasn't a McArdell fan, just saying it would have taken a complete breakup of the company into its components and building the profitable parts up separately which is essentially what happened without a bankruptcy that sometimes results in doing this.

  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...