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Massey Discussion Forums :: Massey Talk :: Family tractors remembered - gone but not forgoten View modes: 
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Posted: 2/23/2013 4:45:33 AM
   

RE:Family tractors remembered - gone but not forgoten

In an earlier post on this thread I showed a B and W picture of myself driving our MF 780 Special combine and I mentioned that when we first bought it that it was a bagger.

Here is a colour shot of it just after haveing been converted to a tanker.  You can see the old bagger unit lying on the floor of the shed.

I think that In N America bagger combines were not common and you were into tankers from early days.  Here the switch to tankers came in the late'50s to early 60s.  After that our muscles started to melt away.  More on baggers in a future post.

Note that the combine can be seen fitted with a cage wheel for wet conditions.  We fitted one each side - a narrow one on the crop side and a wider one on the tank side.
They gave remarkable flotation.  The header of the older MH 726 combine can just be seen behind it.

John

John 

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Posted: 2/23/2013 10:11:24 AM
   

RE:Family tractors remembered - gone but not forgoten

Interesting wheels.  Were you set up for harvesting rice?!?   ;-)

 -  JB


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Posted: 2/23/2013 10:22:22 AM
   

RE:Family tractors remembered - gone but not forgoten

John,

Well I reckon we could have coped with rice if need be.  We had odd very wet years on the peat moss farm where we could never have travelled without them.  We also used to use them on 2WD tractors a lot in the spring when working down ploughed land and sowing cereals on both the peat and normal hard land.  Wheel marks eliminated and rolling reistance on soft soil considerably reduced. 

Cage wheels had a very popular spell over here in the 50s and 60s before the advent of widespread 4WD and balloon or wide section tyres on tractors.  Simple and amazingly effective.  Manufacturers made the narrow plus wide version pair for combines but for tractors of course they were always equal size.  Dual rubbers would do the same job but were more expensive to acquire - but better for going down the roads!

It's important to note that cage wheels did not improve traction - only flotation.  For extra traction we used bolt on (to the rubber wheels) steel strakes which were often extendible to give the sort of grip you required.

John


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Posted: 2/24/2013 6:58:02 AM
   

RE:Family tractors remembered - gone but not forgoten

Here's another family combine - remembered but not forgotten!!!  This MF 500 or maybe 510 replaced our MF 780 Special.  It seemed like the height of sophistication at the time particularly with its hydraulically swinging unloading turret.  It also had an automatic table levelling device - several arms underneath the table which "sensed" the height of cutting.  It worked fine on hard land but on sandy or peat land was nothing short of a curse where it would drag stubble out of the ground and play havoc with automatic level control.  In the end we abandoned it, took it off and went back to manual.

My Dad and uncle bought it second hand from the Oxford area - maybe two or three years old.  They did a deal with a haulier to transport it back to us in Manchester.  But when he arrived with it he wouldn't unload it unless we paid him extra mileage because he had had to divert because of a low bridge!   His problem we thought - he should have known his routes.

We were not overly impressed with the machine for performance or reliability and it went after only a few years.  This series of combines marked the end of Massey's  domination of the world combine market.  But it was easy to drive and operate one has to say.  We then moved to  an Italian Laverda which was just about 100% trouble free and as I think I have mentioned elsewhere was bought from their retiremnt sale and exported to Syria to end its days.  Ironic that now Masseys in recent years have taken over the Laverda plant and are fighting a good comeback in the market place!

This not too good pic - but the only one we have shows it beeing driven by Dad's driver Jackie Eccleston.  I also drove it a lot.

John

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Posted: 2/25/2013 2:45:30 AM
   

RE:Family tractors remembered - gone but not forgoten

Here are some shots of my Grandfather's Massey-Harris 726 combine.  It is a machine which was and still is very close to my heart.  They show it at work on my Dad's farm only about a mile away from the Massey-Harris factory on Barton Dock Road near Manchester.

I went with my Dad and uncle to buy this combine from a farm near Wrexham in NE Wales.  It was in a shed and we were invited to start it up.  I was instructed - probably only 10 years old - to "jump up" and start it.  It roared into life and I felt like a King as I brought it up to full throttle and pushed down the lever to bring the whole machine to life. A deal was struck and home it came.  Within years I was often driving it, firstly to keep it working through lunch and tea breaks and then for full days.  Did I enjoy it!!!!?????  Vivid memories of greasing up maybe 100 grease points before setting off for the day and getting totally filthy in the process before ever setting off to cut anything.

It was a bagger machine and one of uncle's workers Phil Massey was usually on this task puffing at his pipe all day.  Periodically it would overheat due to the radiator air filter blocking but a quick stop and brush off fixed that.  It was fitted with a remarkably durable Morris 4 cylinder TVO engine which had as I recall a tremendous governor.  The single worst feature of the machine was the electric table lift which would stick or fail due to poor electric contacts or a slipping clutch on the lift motor.  It was tedious having to always fix these - but easily.

It was ultimately replaced by an MF 780 Special of which I have already reported but it did provide a back up to this for several years.

It ended its days on fire!  I was cutting in the very field where these shots were taken a few years earlier.  We were plodding along in a crop of barley when suddenly Phil shouted "John - we are on fire!"  I looked round and sure enough we were with flames licking up from the engine and around the fuel tank.  So we abandoned her.

The fire caught hold on the straw and in a strong wind swept down the field with a massive amount of smoke across the M62 motorway which bordered the field.  Traffic slowed to a crawl.  We watched and the straw soon burnt out.

The 726 produced a very clean sample of grain - far better than the tankers and we often used it in winter to rethresh grain to be used for seed the following season.  As I recall it used to consume an enormous number of bearings within it's mechanisms
- particularly the returns elevator and assoicated cross auger.  It ended its life sadly rotting outside in my uncle's yard until finally it went to scrap.  Combiing laid oats was a nightmare even with a pick up reel which we fitted for such circumstances and we often had to cut such fields one way otherwise it would literlly pull the cropout of the ground and block the drum.

The pictures show it working with Ken Swallow, my uncle's driver, at the wheel and George Kelly on bags.  Also shown is my Dad (right) picking up the dropped bags with George Kelly for hauling home to the farm yard.  Right in the left hand corner of this shot you can just see the bag chute of the combine.   Times have changed!!!!!!!!  I think the trailer is being pulled by our Ferguson TEA 20 tractor.

John

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Posted: 2/25/2013 4:03:59 AM
   

RE:Family tractors remembered - gone but not forgoten

In my previous post relating to our old MF 35 tractor, I noted that the photo had the MF Central Parts Operation building in the distant background.

Here's a clearer shot of that building which was across the road from our farm.  Like all the best things in life it was shut down quite some years ago and the site now features one of those hazards of the modern world - a b............... shopping mall!!!

I have been fortunate in collecting quite a bit of history on this facility together with pics.  Has anyone got any of the equivalent operation that you had in Racine??

John

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Posted: 2/25/2013 1:51:59 PM
   

RE:Family tractors remembered - gone but not forgoten

The Lynn’s have never been good at getting rid of anything and future posts will attest to that, but I’m starting my contributions with the one that Dad always wanted to replace but never found a suitable candidate for.

 

In the late 50’s Dad and Grandpa were farming a full section of southwest Iowa land with a MH 30, 33 and 44. They purchased a 4-row planter during this time but most all equipment was two row including cultivating and harvesting machinery. Dad and Mom raised hogs, milked a cow, had chickens and Dad even delivered mail to scrape out a living while raising us kids.

In about 1964 he purchased a used MH444 diesel with the high arch front axle, duel remote hydraulic controls and a modified Deere 3 point from the Red Oak, Iowa JD dealership. He had it repainted all MH red because (1) it needed paint, (2) it was cheaper to only use one color and (3) at the time he didn’t care for the two tone triple paint scheme. He found a 4-row cultivator for a narrow front Massey and thought he was cutting a big swath when cultivating with it and we did a lot of cultivating in the 60’s. It was a major chore to put that thing on around the wide front. He would put one side on at a time by driving in as close as possible and then using jacks and the loader on the 33 to pull the cultivator into place. Needless to say once it was on each year…..it stayed on!

The attached picture shows it with the cultivator sitting with the 44 and 33 in the driveway. The 30 was just off to the right. As far as I know this is the only photograph we have of the triple.

I was less than 10 but had the honored job of driving the tractor as Dad and Grandpa picked up hay bales. I was to drive as close to the bale as possible so they could pick it up from the trailer without having to get off onto the ground. They didn’t like it when I would run over the bale with the rear wheel of the narrow front tractor or when they had to hop off the trailer to reach a bale. It was much easier for me to drive correctly when I could just miss the bale with the wide front wheel.

The 444 left the farm when Dad got the fever for a new MF 180 diesel. He sold it to a neighbor to help get the money for the 180. That neighbor later sold it to another further away who used it to pull an early Vermeer big round baler. And then we lost track of it for awhile.

Years later we learned that a salesman for the MF dealership in Clarinda, Iowa had owned it to use on his hobby farm. The starter went out in the late 70s or early 80s and he sold it to a salvage yard because it was too expensive to find a replacement unit. The 444 was apparently sitting on a sidehill the frosty fall morning they came to get the tractor. As they were winching it onto the tilted flatbed truck the 444 slid off the side and rolled onto it’s top ruining all the sheetmetal.

After we started collecting Dad was always looking for a similar 444 diesel but he never found one he thought was good enough to replace the one he had owned forty years earlier.

More Later,

 

Bob


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Posted: 2/26/2013 10:17:55 AM
   

RE:Family tractors remembered - gone but not forgoten

Bob,

Glad you have joined in on this thread and I hope more will do so.  There are lots of memories out there if only people would just take a few minutes - and that's all it takes - to jot something down and add pics if possible.  Pics are nice but not absolutely vital.

These first hand memories of actually doing the job are what brings the whole bygone era back to life.  May we have many more.  Just tell us what you, your Dad or your Grandad did in practical terms

John


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Posted: 2/26/2013 4:51:11 PM
   

RE:Family tractors remembered - gone but not forgoten

Well done for your excellent contribution Bob and we look forward to hearing further your families involvment with Massey over the years.
Lovely photograph and great to see the large cultivator on the front of the 444.

Please keep posting away and hopefully it will encourage others to participate in this great pool of Massey knowledge and history.

Malcolm.


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Posted: 2/27/2013 4:48:11 AM
   

RE:Family tractors remembered - gone but not forgoten

Here's a  pic from the early-mid 1950's I believe.  I found it whilst browsing through Malcolm's literature a few years ago.  I think it must have been an old newspaper or magazine and as we turned the pages I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw a photo of my grandfather (centre) great uncle Fred (left) and an M-H salesman.  The picture may well have been taken at the Royal Lancashire Agricultural Show which was a regular "must visit" with our family.

They are viewing an MH 744 diesel tractor.  These were fitted with the iconic Perkins P6 diesel engine - the smoothest running diesel engine ever - literally music to one's ears.  And so much quiet torque.  A fine tractor but of higher price than the Fordson Majors of the same era so not as succesful in terms of nmbers sold.  Many were sold overseas to Africa and Australia in particular.

The 744 in the background has an implement attached but I am not sure what - maybe the MH semi- mounted mower??  Any ideas

Well Grandad didn't buy one so this a tractor remembered but never purchased.

John

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