Montana Monsters: The Case 4894

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Beneath this pretty red paint are a pair of Case 4894s with great big Swedish hearts…the last hurrah for JIC’s 4WD lineup. They sell next Tuesday, April 27!

See the details on these tractors.

That’s right, kids…not one Case 4894, but a pair of ’em this week!

In the late 70s and into the 80s, big 4WD power was where it was at. The idea itself wasn’t new; the Steiger brothers had been building 4WDs for nearly 20 years at this point. But, with farm expansion in the 70s, farmers needed more power to pull bigger implements, and the industry was really starting to take off.

The typical 4WD of the 70s followed a pretty basic formula. Build a big tractor that bent in the middle (or have Steiger build you one…), let the marketing & advertising people do their thing, and voila! Well, the people at J.I. Case thought that was pretty much the most ridiculous thing ever. How do you keep a tractor that BENDS IN THE MIDDLE going straight?

Seems like a pretty legit question, right?

J.I. Case’s approach

Ever since the factory in Racine turned out their first 4WD (the 1200) back in the early sixties, they felt a straight frame with axles that could pivot did a better job. That was their story, and they were stickin’ to it. Honestly, they’d had pretty good success with their 4-wheel-steer setups, too. They were complex systems, and they took a little more TLC than a center pin. Man alive, though, they sure could turn a tight circle! Less than 19′ even with duals! Good luck doing that with a Steiger! Additionally, the crab steer was a big help on hillsides. It all but eliminated side draft!

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JIC’s first entry into the 4WD market was the 1200. Neat tractors, and they’re become pretty darn rare these days!
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An early 70-series Case…again, with a face that only a mother could love. Plenty capable, though!
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The later 70-series tractors showed a more refined design and addition capabilities for Case’s 4WD tractors.

So in August of 1979 when Case launched the 90-series tractors, they touted them as “the most advanced 4WD tractors had ever built”. They were impressive tractors, too. The new “Silent Guardian” cab was a game changer for sure; it was roomy and quiet – even quieter than a SoundGard!

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The predecessor to the 4894 was this one, the 4890. (It’s missing side shields.)

In 1984, they updated the 90-series tractors to the 94-series. Fundamentally, they were the same tractor (save for one all-new tractor at the top of the stack – the 4994), but where the 90 was pretty analog, the new model incorporated more electronics and a digital dashboard. They still retained the same transmission and powerplant…which for the Case 4894, came from Sweden.

Wait…what? Sweden? Why?

Yep. Sweden. Home of meatballs, IKEA, the northern lights, and an unintelligible Muppet.

Scania was (and as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Volkswagen today, it still is) a major player in the diesel industry, and they’re a driving force in the global trucking market. They build semis and city buses, as well as lots of motors for various applications. They’re a big deal!

JIC partnered with Scania for motors for the top tractors in the 70, 90, and 94 series. The 2870, 4890, and 4894 used Scania’s DS11 motor, a 674-inch inline six that made about 300 horse. The 4994, Case’s biggest-ever tractor, used the DS14, an 866-inch V8 that made 400 horse! They were stout powerplants that performed very well in the field.

Partnering with a Swedish company, no matter how beefy the motors, though…it seems…well, a little strange, honestly. I’ve wondered why Case chose Scania for a long time. Never found a really reliable answer to the question, either. I’ve heard theories as to why Scania got the contract, though.

Theories

Steiger & Versatile were pretty heavily involved with Cummins at the time. There could’ve been a clause in their contracts that Cummins wouldn’t sell to anybody else. It wouldn’t be the first time a company had negotiated a contract like that.

Interestingly enough, the last five or ten 4994s built left Racine with an 855 between the frame rails. I believe one of them actually sold at a Canadian farm sale in October of 2019. I also know of one 4894 living in Minnesota that has what appears to be a completely factory-installed L10 Cummins in it. I’m not sure what the serial number is, though, so I don’t know if it’s early or late. I’m guessing it might be a late one.

I do know that Scania made a push into the US market with a small contract with Mack over the road trucks earlier in the 70s. That might’ve caught JIC’s eye, especially if the big motors were a cost-effective option. Case could’ve been taking a gamble on Scania’s success in the States.

It could’ve also been a case where the top brass at JIC & Tenneco were just huge ABBA fans, too… ?

In the field…

In the field, the 4894s were monsters. They were very popular in the west as well as in the Canadian wheat and canola fields. Hilly country was where these tractors made their mark. They might look a little funny when they crab-steer, but man alive, it sure is effective!

They were powerful and capable, but as with most complex systems, they did need maintenance. The crab-steer system had a lot of moving parts, and if the owner didn’t look ’em over and address issues, consequences could be costly. An ounce of prevention definitely saved a pound of cure, in the case of the big crab-steer tractors!

Even though they sold relatively well, the factory only churned out 872 of these big tractors. Part of that was due to the merger between Case and IH, just a year after the 4894 rolled onto the market. Once the merger happened, the 94 series was scrapped because IH was already in a pretty strong partnership with Steiger. The remaining tractors were all painted red and rebadged as Case Internationals. Once they were gone, they were gone.

The ones on next week’s sale…

With tractors like the 4894, proper usage and preventative upkeep is definitely the key. If you’re looking at one on an auction or a classified ad, etc., check for service records. The key is to get the story.

…and that’s exactly what I did.

I called Clint Mullins, the man who owns these tractors. He lives just southwest of Williston, ND, just across the Montana state line. Until fairly recently, Clint and his son Zach farmed a fair amount of grain out there (wheat, I think?). They’ve decided to downsize their operation by a fair bit, and the team over at Musser Bros. is handling the sale.

At any rate, Clint told me that he bought the pair of 4894s in the late 90s to restore and use. He’s been completely through the tractors from stem to stern. Rebuilt both of the big Scania motors, been through the transmissions, differential, planetaries…the whole works. While he had them apart, he also repainted them IH red and re-decal’d them.

Once they’d been redone, they went to work on the farm. One of ’em pulled a 45′ air drill in the spring and served on grain cart duty during harvest. The other spent its life pulling a sprayer.

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This is the grain cart tractor. It’s tuned up a little bit from the way it left the factory, making about 360 horse. Click the photo to see the details and a bunch more photos!

The hours are accurate. The grain cart tractor has 3300 original hours, and it’s got a bit more grunt. Clint turned the motor up to about 360 horse. It’s got dual 20.8x38s on it and a full rack of front weights go with it. The sprayer tractor has 7600 hours on it, and he left it set at 300 horse. It also sports dual 18.4x38s, a nearly full front weight rack, as well as being outfitted with Trimble EZ-Steer!

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The sprayer tractor is set at 300 horse, and has a little less rubber under it, but no less capable! Click the photo to see the details and a bunch more photos!

What’ll they bring?

Honestly, I expect they’ll bring quite a bit. I checked our Iron Comps database for prices on the Case 4894, and of the few listed (they don’t change hands very often), they’ve been hovering in the $8-10K range. That said…these are a LOT nicer tractors, and they’re selling in area where these were well-regarded. If they don’t bring between $20-25K each, I’d be very surprised.

Will they set all-time records? No. The all time record is somewhere in the $45K range at least 10 or 12 years ago. But, for the “modern” era that we’re living in now, these will set a very high mark!

Well-maintained equipment sells, folks!

See the details on these tractors.

 

 

Case 1470: If they don’t find ya handsome…

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This Case 1470 lives in northwest Nebraska until the team at Kraupie Real Estate & Auction sends it home with someone new. Maybe you ought to give it a good home! Click the photo to see the details and get a link to bid!

Remember the Red Green show from fifteen or twenty years ago? Remember how Red always ended the Handyman Corner segment? “If the women don’t find you handsome, they should at least find you handy.”

Yeah…that’s the Case 1470.

It didn’t look too handsome, but man alive, it did a bunch of things right. It’s a sure-footed tractor that’s heavy enough for tillage, but incredibly maneuverable as well! It kept all of the things that were successful in its predecessor (the Case 1200), and fixed the bad things. (More on that in a minute…)

When Case got into the 4WD tractor market in 1963, they did it in the typical Case way. They’d always produced a quality product with reasonable features at an affordable price. They drew a box around what they wanted, and they built a tractor that fit within those parameters. In this case, that meant using pieces and parts that were already sitting on the shelf to keep costs down. Had they wanted to, they could’ve built something that was super-robust and made a ton of power, but that would’ve been overkill. They had the components to build a 200-horse tractor that probably would’ve tipped the scales at 20,000 lbs., but that would’ve been more than what was necessary for the time.

The one mistake they made when they built the 1200 was in the choice of powerplant. The 451 cubic inch Lanova cell diesel didn’t respond well to turbocharging, which was what Case had to do to be competitive in the market. At the end of the day, the turbo’d 451 was a very fragile motor that ran pretty hot. (Hot enough that Case put a pyrometer on the dash with a warning about running it too hot for too long!)

That was one of the issues that Case addressed in the 1470. Instead of trying to stretch the inferior 451 even further, they chose a direct-injected 504 cubic inch motor. The 504 responded very well to turbocharging and nipped the reliability issues in the bud. Not only that, it made 146 PTO horsepower, and even set a fuel economy record that stood for 13 years! Talk about an improvement!

This particular Case 1470 is a 1971 model, and lives in northwest Nebraska. As with quite a few tractors out in that part of the country, this one doesn’t have a PTO (most 1470s didn’t have PTOs, from what I gather). That said, though, it does have great rubber (20.8×34 at 90%), 2 hydros, a 3-point hitch, and a cab to keep the elements out! It’s only got about 8500 hours on it, too, and it runs like a champ! Our friends at Kraupie’s Real Estate & Auction are handling the sale, which ends at about noon tomorrow (October 29, 2020).

At the end of the day, these tractors don’t come up for sale very often. This one is in better shape than most, I’d say, and I think the price will probably reflect that. I’d be surprised if it didn’t hit $6-7K by the time the hammer fell. Maybe a little more if a couple of bidders got into it. I know that there are a few pretty die-hard Case 1470 fans out there (one in particular doesn’t live too far away, either), so if a few of those guys start letting their wallets duke it out, who knows where it could go? Happy bidding!

Need parts for your Case tractors? Click here. I can just about guarantee that Elmer’s Repair has what you need. The Haugs have been friends of mine for 10 years and they’ll take very good care of you! (Tell ’em that Ryan from Tractor Zoom sent you!)

Movin’ Mountains: The Steiger Tiger III ST450

Steiger Tiger III ST450
Big jobs require big muscle. Fortunately, this big Steiger Tiger III ST450 has plenty of it! If you need a monster Steiger for your operation, click here for the details on this one!

In the late 70s, Steiger built some pretty unbelievable machines. This Tiger III was one of them.

Steiger built the Tiger III ST450 from 1977-1982, but actually encompassed two different models. They built the first 173 tractors with a Cummins KTA-1150 rated at 470 horse (this tractor is number 158). For the 1980 model year, they changed motors on the ST450 to a 450-horse Cat 3408. The Cummins-powered version remained at 470 horse and was rebadged as the ST470. At the end of the day, I suspect it was a sales move, but it’s historically notable.

Any way you slice it, they’re big honkin’ tractors and they’re probably perfect for nearly any big job you would want to undertake. Want to move a mountain? Hook it to one of these. Need to flatten a dozen cars in about five minutes? The ST450 can do it (especially this one – dual 30.5s all the way around).

This particular ST450 probably never crushed cars or moved mountains, but it did do something very important. It laid miles and miles of drainage tile across thousands of acres of wet fields, and helped many farmers become a lot more productive. It’ll sell with a ZOR double-link tile plow that’s set up for 6″ tile, and there are several other boots available at this auction (I think 8- and 10-inch?).

I’ve heard rumors that Steiger built tractors specifically for tiling in the late 70s; and honestly I wouldn’t be shocked to find out that this was one of them. This tractor is definitely built for it; it sells with 4900 pounds of extra weight on the nose, as well as dual 30.5×32 Firestone Forestry Specials all the way around. It’s got to tip the scales at close to 60,000 pounds as-is!

The last time we saw a Tiger III like this one sell at an auction, it went for just under $44K, but it didn’t have a tile plow setup with it, and the tires weren’t quite as new. This one should bring a fair bit more. I’d be surprised if it doesn’t come close to $50K by the time the hammer drops. The market for tractors like this is fairly small, but the right buyer will love it!

If you need more Steiger-y goodness in your life, check out this video that our friends at BigTractorPower did featuring some classic pistachio-green Steigers. There’s a sweet ST470 running an air seeder in it!

If you’re looking for Steigers on auction, check here.