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International Harvester's First Generation of Self-Propelled Combines



 In July 1831 Cyrus Hall McCormick launched his reaper which allowed for the mechanical harvest of grain. Labor time in the field was greatly reduced by the McCormick reaper and it brought sweeping changes to harvesting practices in the 19th century.  McCormick Harvesting Co. and several reaper other companies formed in the second half of the 19th century and competed against each other fiercely. On August 12, 1902 Mccormick Harvesting and four other major reaper companies in a major $120 million agreement merged into one Company named International Harvester.  The companies forming IHC included the Mccormick Harvesting Machine Company, Deering Harvester Company, Plano Machine Company, Champion, Wardner, Bushnell & Glessner Company and the Milwaukee Harvester Company.   In 1981 the International Harvester Corporation celebrated its 150th Anniversary.  Combines  marked an important part of International Harvesters machine linage and business.  Today CaseIH carries on over 170 years of harvesting tradition founded in McCormick's introduction of the first practical reaper.

IH 1440 Combine

Jim Schroer an IH enthusiast, Service Technician at Pioneer Garage, (a CaseIH dealership in South Dakota) and well known mechanical tip person on various internet machine talk boards has authored a detailed history of the 25 years of the Axial Flow combine for Toy Tractor Show.com.  Jim's articles show the impressive mark the Axial-Flow combine has made on grain harvesting. Before we look at one of the most modern harvesting innovations from the proud red line we will look back at the harvesting heritage of International Harvesters self propelled combines.

IH Pull Type Combines

International Harvester first experimented with a harvester-thresher in  1913. In 1915 IHC offered its first combine. At that time horse drawn implements were the most common and it took all sorts of horse hitching equipment to line up 8 to 10 horses to move one machine. By 1925 IHC was offering tractor drawn combines.  

IH No. 123-SP  Combine

In 1942 International Harvester offered its first self-propelled combine designated the No. 123-SP.  The 123-SP featured a 6 cylinder IH engine, 12 foot grain head and hydraulic platform control.  Options included a straw spreader and seed bagging attachment. 

IH No. 125-SP  Combine

In 1949 the 123-SP was upgraded to model 125-SP with a few minor updates. In 1950 an improved 125-SPV was released and in 1952 the 125-SPVC with the option of a 10ft, 12ft and 14ft grain header.

IH No. 141  Combine with No. 22 Corn Head

1954 marked a major improvement for season long use of IH combines in the Midwest and the East Coast. The 6 cylinder No. 141-SP combine produced from 1954-1957 was the first harvester to offer a corn head in the IH line.  IH Corn heads would out pace corn pickers in less than a decade and the year 1974 marked the last year of IH corn picker production.  The 141-SP allowed farmers to harvest small grain crops in the summer and then use the same machine in the fall to shell two rows of corn on the go in the field.  SP-141 also was available with 10ft, 12ft and 14ft grain headers.  

IH No. 101  Combine

 In 1956 IH offered a smaller combine called the No. 101. This proved to be a popular machine on moderate sized farms. It was the right size, right capacity and the right versatility for grain, bean and corn growers. The 58hp, 6 cylinder powered combine could handle 10ft, 12ft and 14ft grain headers and a 2 row corn head.  The 101 featured a long 28 inch separator.

IH No. 151  Combine

1959 brought even larger harvesting capacity to the IH combine line. The No. 151 combine weighed in with 75 hp IH engine, big 37 inch separator and was available with 12ft, 14ft and 16ft grain headers as well as 2 and 4 row corn heads.  The 151 was available side hill leveling as an option.

IH No. 91 Combine

In 1959 IH introduced a unique self-propelled combine that  was lever controlled and could turn in its own tracks.  The No. 91 combine was not driven by a steering wheel but rather by levers that controlled the power to the drive wheels, similar to today's modern zero turn lawn mowers.  The 91 was available with an 8 1/2 ft or 10ft grain head and the No. 22 tow row corn head. This combine is the only IH combine that was not manufactured at the East Moline combine plant. The 91 was produced at the same plant in Canada that International Harvester swathers were produced at.

IH No. 181  Combine

IH combine size really took off with introduction of the giant N0. 181. In its day it was unequaled in capacity.  The 80hp 181 was designed to stand up to the rigors of bigger yields, expanding acreage and larger expectations. The 181 had tremendous internal capacity with a 46 inch separator that could handle a standard of 4 rows of corn and 12, 14, 16 and a big 18ft grain platforms.

IH No. 151 Specialty Combine

IH offered specialty combines first offered in the late 1950's. These machines  went above and beyond the call of duty that was required in just wheat and corn crops. The No. 101, 151, and 181 combines were also offered as Rice Specials.  Mccormick rice combines were built with power, strength, flotation and capacity to hold up in the harsh conditions rice fields present.  Big rice tires were available to pull IH Mccormick series combines through soft spots with plenty of clearance under the axles.  Foraged steel tracks were also available for extra middy conditions.  The McCormick No. 91, 101 and 151 combines were available as bean specials for harvesting had grade dry beans like kidney and great northern beans.  These machines were popular in Western, NY, Wyoming, Minnesota  and Wisconsin. Edible Bean combines were adapted with windrow headers built with steel fingers to get down under windrows and gently raise them to the platform. Because beans are cut and windowed close to the ground the steel pick up fingers were wide spaced so fewer stones found there way into the combine.


Follow the IH  Combine Story through the 1960's on Part II


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