Wheat cutting Farmall 450 style

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The day was hot and the sun was high in the sky during the last full week in June when Joe and Carol McGrath decided to cut their winter wheat.  They invited a few nearby neighbors and we had the pleasure of dining on some fine home cooking and seeing a beautiful 1956 Farmall 450 pulling an AC All-Crop combine Model 72 cut an acre and a half of wheat.

joe harvesting

Keith and I and a neighboring farmer Andy Aherin, along with friends of the McGraths, Nancy and Alex Siudyla gathered to celebrate the bountiful harvest.

Joe, who works on machinery at his shop located on his farm, also collects old iron.  He shared a bit of history about Allis Chalmers and the All-Crop combine.  Joe said that AC started building the All-Crop combine in 1935.  “This is one of the more popular ones,” Joe said.  “Between 1935 and 1969 there were 300,000All-Crops sold.”

Part of the reason for their success he added was, “They were light and inexpensive and could be used on almost any crop because you could just change the filters.”

The beautiful old All-Crop has the original wooden reel that Joe said is made of hard wood.  Many other models had canvas, but this one has a reel that is a little rough, but beautiful in a paddle boat way.  “This model has a feeder house, chain and an auger instead of the canvas.  You need a PTO to unload, but you can disconnect the threshing mechanism and unload just the loader,” Joe added.

Joe bought the All-Crop in 2006 after finding in Raymond, Illinois.  “I traded a four-bottom plow and $150.00 bucks.  Joe Langheim provided the plow so we own this together.”

Joe’s beautiful Farmall 450 came from Mt. Pulaski, so both pieces of equipment came from within an hour’s drive of Joe and Carol’s farm.

Both Joe and Joe had been working on the combine and were excited to see the old beauty in action. The All-Crop has a six foot cutting swatch which Joe McGrath explained is 1/5th the size of a modern combines. “So,” he added, “it takes five times as long to get it ready, service it and then cut the wheat.”

The saving grace for the All-Crops though is that even though Allis Chalmers hasn’t been around as AC since 1985, owners can still find parts for them today.  

Joe started out harvesting the wheat.  The wheat waving in the breeze like a sea of gold was a wonderful background for picture taking.  The All-Crop went one round and the tank was full.  They unloaded the wheat into a Kilgore wagon on a John Deere gear.

After going a round or so, Carol took over and tried her hand at harvesting.  We were impressed with how adeptly she handled the machinery and how bountiful the wheat was.

We broke around 2 for dinner and we were spoiled with sloppy Joes, pickled beets, homemade potato salad and I had brought a Texas cake.  After sitting a spell outside, we retreated to the farmstead for a bit of cooler talk time. 

Looking over the pictures makes me realize how wonderful the simple pleasures are. Gathering with friends, enjoying old iron and watching it work like yesterday.  We had driven over in my husband’s cool old 1950 Chevy. Driving it home felt just right.