Farmall in the Family

Posted: November 17, 2023

Commemorating 100 years of Farmall tractors

There’s a special bond between a farmer and his tractor. As Farmall celebrates its 100th year, local farmers share why their Farmall tractors hold special meaning.

The iconic Farmall model was introduced in 1923 as the all-purpose tractor. It replaced horses and served as a workhorse for farmers.

The early Farmalls had letters assigned to them, like the A, B, C, H and M. Then the Super Series provided enhancements and upgrades so they became the Super A… and Super M.

These Farmalls are by far the favorite collectibles and keepers among today’s farm families
because they remember

Grandpa or Dad driving them. Over the years these tractors have become part of the family and farmers resist parting with them based on their sentimental value. The family heirloom either remains in its original working form or has been restored with a fresh coat of Harvester Red paint.

In the 1950’s, Farmalls switched to a number system starting with the 100 all the way to the 1256 in 1967. The tractor became revolutionary to farms of all sizes. As farms became larger, farmers needed bigger tractors with more horsepower to cover more acres.

Like the very first Farmall, the current series of tractors are designed to be versatile and productive as a series of utility tractors produced by the Case IH company.

Bob Gommel, Malta

Farmall Model/Year: 560 – 1963 (Plus F20, C, 450, Super M, 656, 1086, 1486)

What was your Farmall used for? My 560 was used for plowing, planting, tillage, harvest and livestock chores including many hours of grinding hog and cattle feed.

How did you acquire your Farmall? I needed a bigger tractor for field work and Marlin Jordal needed a smaller tractor for odd jobs. We switched tractors. The 560 was purchased from Rochelle Equipment in 1965.

What was involved in its restoration? I restored the 560, added a 2-point hitch, and painted it.

What do you like about your Farmall? It has 12,800 hours and is still running strong. I take it to local parades. I started farming with Farmalls – my first tractors were an F20, then an H, and the M. Red tractors run deep in the Gommel family.

1957 – Driving the M in the Creston parade with son Dave.
1962 – Farming with my Farmall M.
1965 – Three generations: My dad Reiny, cousin Herbert Honeck, me and son Dave.
Three generations: Erik, Dave, Mark and me.

Dave Gommel, Malta

Farmall Model/Year: M – 1949 (Plus F20, 1466)

What was your Farmall used for? My M was used for planting, tillage, harvest and livestock chores.

How did you acquire your Farmall? The M has always been in our family. I purchased the M from Marlin Jordal (related to my mother) in 1990.

What was involved in its restoration? Only minor painting was needed.

What do you like about your Farmall? The M started its life as part of an exhibit at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry. When the exhibit was over, it was sent to Rochelle Equipment where the high clearance axels were replaced with standard axels. My Grandpa Reiny Gommel needed a larger tractor than his H so he purchased the M in 1954. It has been owned by three generations of Gommels.

1982 – My daughter, Julie, with me on my Farmall 300 feeding cattle.
2023 – My grandson, Jason, and me on the M.
Farmall humor by Dave, Erik & Mark Gommel.

Erik Gommel, Malta

Farmall Model/Year: H – 1940 (Plus Dad, Mark, has a 656)

What was your Farmall used for? My H is used for light farm work. It’s also a parade and show tractor.

How did you acquire your Farmall? I bought it at Nester Metzger’s auction in 2011 for $800.

What was involved in its restoration? I cleaned it, stripped it down, fixed sheet metal, replaced seals and gaskets, converted electrical to a 12 volt system, and painted it.

What do you like about your Farmall? I restored this tractor with my Grandpa Bob, so I gained a lot of knowledge of the Farmall tractors and have fond memories of the time spent on the tractor and the many shows we’ve taken it to.

Three generations: Me, my son, Leland, and my dad, Mark.

Danny Wells, DeKalb

Farmall Models/Years: Super MTA Diesel – 1954, my favorite Farmall; (Plus Cub, A, B, C, Super C, H, M, Super M, M Diesel, Super MTA, 300, 350, 350 Diesel, 400, 400 Diesel, 450, 450 Diesel, 706 – 27 in my collection)

What were your Farmalls used for? The Farmalls were used for baling hay, plowing, disking, and most field work.

How did you acquire your Farmalls? I bought the Super MTA Diesel from another farmer and other tractors from farm sales and private sales.

What was involved in their restoration? I restored most of the tractors. My trademark is putting on wide front ends, plus fenders, and getting them tuned up and running. I have someone else paint them.

What do you like about your Farmalls? The Super MTA is easy to learn on and easy to handle. There are only 2,400 of the Super MTA Diesels produced. My father, Bob, farmed with Farmalls. I started collecting Farmalls in 1977 when I bought the 300 to make hay and then the M for the mower/conditioner. I proudly own my era of the Farmall collection, from the Cub to the 450. I still use them for farming today, plus for tractor drives and church festivals. I also collect hand corn shellers, cream separators and 1/64 scale toy tractors.

1986 – My father, Bob, drove the M pulling the IH baler while I was on the rack stacking hay bales.
I have restored and continue to restore Farmall tractors in my shop.
I have the whole collection of letter and number series tractors from the Cub to the 706, which is my era of the Farmall collection. The wide front-end is my signature, which I have converted in the series.

Lane Pickwell, Shabbona

Farmall Models/Years: M – 1951, Super M – 1953

What were your Farmalls used for? The M was the main tractor on the farm and was used for tillage, planting, pulling the corn picker, row cultivating and hauling manure. In later years, we used it for the 4-row mounted cultivator and hauling ear corn. The Super M was purchased to put a New Idea mounted corn picker on, that my grandfather bought, but it did other farm operations too. We could also put the 4-row mounted cultivator on it as well.

How did you acquire your Farmalls? My grandfather, Miles Lane, purchased the M new in 1952 from DeWitt Implement in Shabbona and it has remained in the family ever since. My Super M was purchased in the early 1970’s from a neighbor, Miles Quilhot, by my grandfather, Miles, because it had a little heavier back axle, five more horsepower than an M and a Char-Lynn power steering kit on it, which were all better for using a mounted corn picker.

What was involved in their restoration? I took the M to the Ag Mechanics Department at Kishwaukee College where my brother-in-law, John Boesche, is an instructor. They went through it and made sure it was mechanically sound. Then I took it to Scott Hart of Scott’s Tractor Restoration in Shabbona. Scott also completely restored my Super M.

What do you like about your Farmalls? What I really like about my M is it has the M&W 9-speed transmission kit on it, that was an option in those days. It was really nice to have some in-between gears between 4th and 5th gear for hauling ear corn from the field. It also has a really smooth-running engine. The tractors also provide memories of me and my grandfather out in the field. I wouldn’t trade those experiences for anything.

My sons, Christopher and Steven, like the Farmalls too.
The Farmall M has been in our family for 71 years. It was purchased new by my Grandfather Miles in 1952.

Gene Lane, Kirkland

Farmall Models/Years: 400 – 1955, M – 1949

What were your Farmalls used for? Both Farmalls were used to pull a 3-bottom plow, a 4-row planter, 4-row cultivator and the baler. I now use the 400 for tractor drives and the M for light farm work.

How did you acquire your Farmalls? The 400 belonged to a Shriner in Indiana and he used it for parades. I purchased it from him eight years ago and now use it for parades and tractor drives. I acquired the M at a farm auction 15 years ago.

What was involved in their restoration? The restoration of both tractors was already done before I purchased them. I added an umbrella to the 400.

What do you like about your Farmalls? They were a little bit speedier tractors back in the day and easier to get on. And, I like red tractors! I farmed with my uncles when I was younger and we used similar tractors to these Farmalls for light farm work. I’ve always liked the IH brand – I have an IH truck, KB5, from 1948 which was used as a service truck by a Farmall dealer.

I have an IH service truck, KB5, from 1948.
My M dates back to 1949.

Steve Swenson, Waterman

Farmall Model/Year: Super M – 1953

What was your Farmall used for? Our Super M was used for for plowing and cultivating with a 4-row front mount.

How did you acquire your Farmall? It was purchased by my father, Alfred, on May 16, 1953 from Yorkville Implement.

What was involved in its restoration? We have cleaned and painted it since my father used it.

What do you like about your Farmall? I enjoy having it on display during the Waterman Tractor Show and have been in their tractor parade for more than 20 years.

My father, Alfred, purchased the Super M 70 years ago, shown with me.

Larry, Rick & Randy Wilkening, Hinckley

Farmall Models/Years: M – 1944 (Pinky 4.0), M – 1948 (Pinky Too), Super M – 1953 (Super Pinky)

What were your Farmalls used for? Our Farmalls all pulled plows and ran hay equipment. Our pink Farmall is currently used as our parade tractor and our black Farmalls are used for antique tractor pulling competitions.

How did you acquire your Farmalls? The two Farmall M’s were purchased locally and the Super M was donated to us at Pulling for the Cure by a gentleman from Indiana named Chuck Zumbrun to help with raising funds for breast cancer fighters.

What was involved in their restoration? All three tractors have been completely disassembled and rebuilt with new parts where needed and modern updates were installed.

What do you like about your Farmalls? We love our Farmalls because they were built and painted for a purpose: to help raise funds for a great cause that has directly affected our family as well as other families.

Four generations: Rick, Larry, Jacob, Kayden, Natalie, Randy & Bridget.

Greg Friedlund, DeKalb

Farmall Models/Years: 400 – 1956, 560 – 1960

What were your Farmalls used for? Everything! The 400 was used for most field work from planting to disking, cultivating, raking and baling hay. Feeding cattle was one of the main jobs year-round. It pulled the feed wagon every morning when we fed cattle at three farms. Now it’s pretty much retired but still used to run an auger or move wagons. We also have a Farmall 560 and a series of International tractors from the past.

How did you acquire your Farmalls? Grandpa Harry Friedlund, Sr., bought the 400 new in 1956 from a DeKalb implement dealer. It was used by Harry, Sr., and his sons Harry, Jr., and Jerry “Red.” Today, it is used by Red and me.

What was involved in their restoration? The 400 is an original, 67 years old. Also the 560 is original.

What do you like about your Farmalls? The 400 is an easy tractor to drive, with its narrow front end, and maneuvers around in tight places. I remember first driving the 400 when I was about 10 years old. Driving the tractor, I raked hay, got sunburnt, and sang (because there was no tractor radio… and mind you, I’m not a very good singer) in the hay field.

The 560 has also been a good workhorse Farmall tractor.

Mark Hawkins, Kingston

Farmall Models/Years: H – 1949, 2 Super H’s – 1953, Super M – 1953, Super C – 1954, Super MTA – 1954, 350 – 1956, 706 – 1966

What were your Farmalls used for? They were used for most farm work such as making hay, pulling wagons, spraying fencelines, running augers. Today I use them for a variety of farm work.

How did you acquire your Farmalls? Two of them were owed by my father, Roy. Three were purchased from my uncles’ estate sales (after sitting idle for 31 years in a barn). Others were acquired at farm auctions and in private purchases.

What was involved in their restoration? The Farmalls are all originals in good working order. Being a heavy equipment mechanic for many years, I am able to keep the Farmalls running. I also help other farmers with their vintage tractors.

What do you like about your Farmalls? They always start and are handy to use. All bring back fond memories of days gone by. My favorite is the C – because I first drove it when I was nine years old pulling the hay fork rope. The Super H is my next favorite which I used on our dairy farm for grinding feed and hauling manure, and hauling corn to Genoa and Kirkland elevators. I have eight Farmalls amongst my tractor collection of 24 (including John Deere tractors) and line them up along the driveway on the 4th of July. Every tractor has a story, which provides good memories.

My 706, the newest of my Farmall series.
The iconic tractor seat on the old Farmalls.
My lineup of eight Farmalls from the H to the 706.

Dale Gommel, DeKalb

Farmall Models/Years: Cub – 1948, 300 – 1955, 350 – 1957 (Plus F20 – 1938, B – 1948, M – 1948, 400 – 1955 and 450 – 1957)

What were your Farmalls used for? The Cub was used for lawn mowing. The 300 was a loader tractor. The 350 was my uncle’s main tractor to farm his 160-acre farm.

How did you acquire your Farmalls? The Cub was my dad’s tractor. The 300 was my father-in-law’s given to me by the Rissman family. I purchased the 350 at my Uncle Bill Gommel’s farm sale. Besides these, I started collecting Farmalls in 1978. My first in the collection was the F20. I also collected 1-to-4 bottom plows and used them in plowing matches with my Farmalls.

What was involved in their restoration? The Cub and 300 were total rebuilds. The engines and transmissions were rebuilt on these Farmalls and then the tractors were painted. The 350 has remained the same way it was when I bought it. I also restored and painted other tractors that I purchased and restored tractors for other farmers.

What do you like about your Farmalls? The tractors bring back farm and family memories. I remember driving the Cub and 350 when I was real young. Dad needed a tractor driver for the baler so I drove the 350 at the age of six.

My dad’s tractor, the Cub, was a total rebuild.
As part of the rebuild, it needed a paint job.
The 350 is my newest Farmall, used for tractor drives and for plowing matches.

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