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      Tractor: Tractor: THE SLIDE INTO DEPRESSION AND WORLD WAR II
    Posted on Tuesday, October 19 @ 12:18:08 UTC by Cars
     
     
      Tractor THE SLIDE INTO DEPRESSION AND WORLD WAR II The Wall Street Crash of 1929 and the economics of production and competition meant that the 1930s started on a different note to the previous decade. Gone was the optimism, and with it the numerous small tractor manufacturers with only a partially proven product. Only a few large companies remained producing fully workable tractors, whose new models reflected the increasing use of engineering technology. These included simple refinements such as the oil bath air filter, that gave engines a longer life when used in dusty conditions. Alongside these developments were improvements in vehicle lighting and fuel-refining techniques that enabled improvements in the efficiency and workability of tractors to be achieved. The Depression only slowed innovation rather than eliminating it, and it did not entirely deter new manufacturers from entering the market. In some countries the tractor-making companies had to take their chances in a competitive capitalist market, while in others there was less competition. In the USSR, created as a result of the Russian Revolution of 1917, tractor production continued under the auspices of the State.

    Charles Deere Wiman, a great-grandson of John Deere, had taken over direction of the John Deere Company in 1928. Through the Great Depression, despite losses in the first three years of that decade, the company made a decision to support its debtor farmers as long as was necessary. The John Deere Company was fortunate that it had sufficient capital to be able to do this and was no doubt aware that it needed farmers to buy tractors as much as farmers depended on the machines. During the worst of the Depression the total tractor production for 1932 was in the region of 20,000 and by 1933 only nine principal American manufacturers remained in the tractor business. These were Allis-Chalmers, Case, Caterpillar, Cleveland Tractor, International Harvester, John Deere, Massey, Minneapolis-Moline and Oliver. The Depression affected Europe equally badly but the major companies survived. In the years to come after World War II the tractor market would be divided between these makes, although mergers and amalgamations within the industry meant that numerous small tractor makers, as well as makers of agricultural implements and specialized equipment, would eventually become constituent parts of the handful of global corporations manufacturing agricultural machinery. The tractor industry has, throughout its history, been characterized by takeovers and mergers of both fledgling and established companies in the race for sales and technological advances. Around the globe, in the shorter term, technological progress was made. In 1940 New Holland changed owners and, following a company reorganization, began production of the first successful automatic pick-up hay baler. A year earlier Harry Ferguson and Henry Ford had made an agreement to produce tractors together and the result was the Model 9N. The 9N was virtually a new design although it had some similarities with the Fergusons of the mid-1930s manufactured by David Brown. When World War II broke out in Europe on 3 September 1939, there were three major tractor producers in business in Britain: Fordson, Marshall and David Brown. It was immediately clear that once again a larger number of tractors would be required if farmers were to be able to feed the nation through the oncoming war. It was also apparent that tractors (like much other war material) would have to be imported from the United States, initially as ordinary purchases and later by means of the lend-lease scheme. This meant that the major American tractor manufacturers would be supplying their products in considerable numbers. Allis-Chalmers, Case, John Deere, Caterpillar, Minneapolis-Moline, Massey-Harris, Oliver, International Harvester and Ford machines were all imported. Ford also continued production at its British factory and the machines were redesigned to use less metal, and painted to make them less obvious in fields. Two years later, in December 1941, America entered the war, with the Japanese airstrike on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. The might of American industry was now dedicated to winning the war, but the wartime exports had popularized American tractor brands far beyond their place of manufacture. Shortages caused by the war led to the modification of designs. The numerous Japanese conquests in the Far East resulted in a rubber shortage, for example, which meant that steel wheels came back into use. Pre-war designs became standardized and remained in production throughout the war period, with only minor and necessary changes being made. The changes could wait but the war years allowed the manufacturers to assist the war effort and plan for the post-war decades. John Deere's factories, for example, produced a wide range of war-related products, ranging from tank transmissions to mobile laundry units, but throughout this period, John Deere nonetheless maintained its emphasis on product design, and developed a strong position for the post-war market through the efforts of Charles Wiman and the wartime president, Burton Peek. International Harvester and White manufactured half-tracks that were to provide the basis for a variety of special vehicles, including armoured personnel carriers, mortar carriers, self-propelled gun mounts and anti-aircraft gun platforms. Vast numbers were supplied under the lend-lease scheme to Britain, Canada and Russia, and many of the machines produced by International Harvester went abroad in this manner. Massey-Harris made approximately 2,500 tanks for the US army. Case made 15,000 tractors specifically for the military out of a total of 75,000 made for the war effort. Case employees assisted the war effort in another way: volunteers from the factory formed the 518th Ordnance Company Heavy Maintenance US Army.
     
     
     
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