Russ' Vintage Iron

IH Hundred Series -- The Forgotten Vintage Tractor?

Russ Quinn
By  Russ Quinn , DTN Staff Reporter
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While I didn't grow up with "red" tractors, we had enough family, friends and neighbors who did, so I was around International tractors even though we didn't have any. I had several friends growing up whose families farmed with IH equipment, and I learned about this equipment from them.

I am fairly familiar with the Farmall H/M and the 460/560 series, as I knew several folks with these series of IH tractors. In between these two, were two other series -- the super and the hundred series -- but I didn't really know much about them, since no one I knew personally had these tractors.

I guess that is not exactly true. One of my great uncles had a couple of Super M tractors, but I was never around them. After he passed away in the early 1990s, I can remember stopping at their farm with my dad and we looked at these two tractors, which were still in one of the sheds.

In 1955, IH introduced the new hundred series to replace the letter super series. This series consisted of a few different models with the 300 and 400 being the most well-known. A couple of years later, the 50 series came along featuring the 350 and 450.

According to tractordata.com, the Farmall 300 had 29,077 tractors in its production run while the 400 had slightly more, with 40,957 produced. I couldn't find any production number for the 50 series.

I would suppose the hundred series for IH was maybe not as popular as some of the series before and after it for several reasons.

For starters, the total production run for both the 00 and the 50 series was just five years (1954-58). The run for the letter series was a robust 14 years (1939-1952), with 391,227 H manufactured and 270,140 M produced.

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Secondly, the H/M is one of the most popular tractor series of all time. I'm guessing many folks just kept their M/H and didn't move to the hundred series.

You also have to wonder about the fact that American farms were rapidly increasing in size in the late 1950s and into the 1960s. Those farmers who did trade in their letter tractors and went to the hundred series probably moved right along to the 60 series and later series.

Whatever the reasons, I hadn't really been around these tractors much. However, I have gotten to know the 00 series much better in the last couple of decades.

Over the years, I have helped to announce a couple antique tractors pulls in our area. My knowledge of the history of vintage iron and my general loudness comes in quite handy at these events.

The 400/450 is a popular choice for IH pullers. While the M is prevalent in the mid-weight classes, the 400/450 is fairly common in the heavier class, as is the 460/560.

We also own a Farmall 400 on our own farm.

One of my uncles had a Farmall 400 with a Dual loader, and he has wanted to upgrade tractors for probably 15 years now; so we bought the vintage IH tractor. We wanted another loader tractor as we began to put up hay many miles away from the home farm, and we really needed another loader tractor to unload round bales once we brought the bales home.

While nothing fancy, the 400 is a decent back-up loader tractor. It is a gas burner, so it's nice to have a loader tractor ready to be started in an instant on cold winter days without having to plug in the engine heater and wait a couple of hours.

In addition, the Dual loader on the 400 has a grapple fork. This comes in very handy when cutting trees off terraces or trimming branches -- just lower the fork and you are not dropping any branches.

So while I'm a "green" guy through-and-through, we do have one extremely useful spot of red in the shed.

Have any memories or anecdotes of your red vintage tractors in these series?

Drop me a line.

Russ Quinn can be reached at russ.quinn@dtn.com

Follow Russ Quinn on Twitter @RussQuinnDTN

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