Recently, our home county of Washington County, Nebraska, had its annual county fair. Many of the neighboring counties decided not to have a fair because of the COVID-19 pandemic, with most pivoting to 4-H shows only.
Our county fair canceled some events (including having no animals stay), but they did manage to have two nights of the rodeo and then two nights of tractor pulls. The first night was the antiques tractors and trucks and the second night was farm stock and some of the more modified tractors.
Our two sons showed cattle Monday morning, and then my oldest son and I pulled our John Deere 50 and 60 in the antique pull that evening. My son just bought the 50 this spring, so he was VERY excited to hook it to a sled for the first time. And after many years of not pulling, I was glad the old 60 pulled into the triple digits and I did not embarrass myself.
I think many people from several counties around came to Arlington just because it was event that was actually occurring. I'm guessing many of these pullers had tractors that haven't left the shed much this summer with so many events canceled.
My favorite part of being at a tractor pull/show is walking around and talking to people who have interesting tractors, whether I know them or not. And they are always more than willing to talk about their tractors.
Two of the more interesting tractors I came across were actually owned by people I know personally.
A guy my wife and her brother grew up with had a 1940s Co-op No. 2 tractor at the antique pull. He said he doesn't know exactly when it was made, as number records for this version of the Co-op tractor were destroyed. He estimated it's around 1940.
The first version of Co-op tractors was produced before World War II. These tractors were powered by a Chrysler 201-cubic-inch, six-cylinder industrial engines and assembled using Dodge truck drivetrain components (https://www.hemmings.com/…).
He bought this tractor in Watertown, South Dakota, and brought it back to eastern Nebraska. They were mostly found in the northern wheat areas, and he confirmed to me personally it can do about 40 miles per hour with the truck transmission.
I would think most vintage iron folks would be more familiar with the second version of the Co-op tractors.
Once the war ended, Canadian tractor manufacturer Cockshutt was interested in selling more equipment in the U.S. and entered into an agreement to sell their Model 30 in the U.S. as a re-branded Co-op E3, according to that same website. Also sold was the E2 (Model 20), E4 (Model 40) and E5 (Model 50) and these tractors were manufactured from 1946 to 1956.
We even have a Co-op E3 at our farm ... well about a half of an E3. I wrote about it years ago, as it belonged to my grandparents' neighbor when my dad was growing up. My dad bought it on his farm sale about 15 years with the idea of restoring it one day.
So far, that day has not come yet.
The other interesting tractor I saw was in the farm stock class of the second pull and belongs to long-time friends of our family. An International family through and through, they recently bought and restored an International 1466 from a local grain elevator.
He was telling me about the Black Stripe version of the IH 66 series of tractors. In 1976, the "new" 66 series Black Stripe tractors were released.
From some internet research, I discovered they are often referred to as "the 1976 model," but they really started in mid-1975 (https://octanepress.com/…). Other than a small tweak in the horsepower and a few other minor mechanical changes, the only change was essentially the black stripe.
According to our friend (and the internet, of course), the IH Black Stripe 66 series is very popular with IH collectors. Many claim this was the best-looking tractor IH ever made.
You wouldn't think a wide, black stripe would make that much of a difference, but another person had a "regular" 1066 tractor at the pull and parked it right next to the 1466. The black-on-red colors really do make the two tractors look considerably different. I don't know if it's the addition of another color to the paint scheme, but I can understand why IH guys would want these tractors in their sheds.
Do you have an interesting Vintage Iron tractor? Perhaps it's a Co-op tractor or maybe a Black Stripe International 66 series?
Feel free to drop me a line. I will use the story in a future column.
Russ Quinn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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