The 766 was the smallest of the big-frame 66-series tractors, and it was also the one that Harvester made the fewest of. It wasn’t a bad seller, though. It was – and still is – a popular tractor. The one you see here is a 1976 model.
Sizewise, the 766 is pretty much the same as all of its bigger brothers. At a distance, you’d have a hard time telling a 766 from a 1066. Basically, there are only two distinguishing features between them. A 766’s wheelbase was 2″ shorter and sold with 18.4-34s (a 1066 came with 18.4-38s).
(I suppose if we’re getting really nitpicky, you can see more of the fan shroud on a 766 because the engine is a little shorter than a 414/436/466 in the bigger tractors. But I digress…)
Pick your flavor
The 766 was the only tractor in the series that had a gas or diesel option. Actually, for 1971, the gas engine was the only one available. From 1972-1975, farmers could choose between the two. Ultimately, the gasser was phased out after 1975.
The gas version was a 291 cubic inch naturally aspirated inline six. It made good power, but man alive, that thing was thirsty! Definitely not for the faint of wallet! However, the one major advantage that the gas engine had was that it would start anywhere…it was good for cold climates. It never needed to be plugged in! -10º and you needed to do chores? Bundle up, turn the key, and go get ’em done.
The diesel version of the 766 got a 360 cubic inch naturally aspirated inline six. It made about 85 horse give or take, and like many of the other engines influenced by Harvester’s German engineering team, it was a tough little sucker. In fact, I believe International still uses a turbocharged version of it in school buses today! They’re great motors that can handle a lot of abuse. They’ve even been turned into alcohol-burning monsters in pulling tractors. There’s a guy I go pulling with from Missouri who has a single engine mod with one of those little motors in it and he must be pushing 1500+ horsepower with it! So yeah…they’re pretty tough little things!
Regionally popular at the time…
When I said that the 766 was a popular tractor, I probably need to qualify that. Let’s say that it was regionally popular. There were lots of places where you’d be hard pressed to find a single 7, but every other barn in the county has a 10 or a 14. Usually, those places were heavy on corn and soybean production. On the other hand, you wouldn’t have to look too hard to find one on a Wisconsin dairy farm. I know these are pretty popular in western New York and PA where there’s a lot of dairy, too. I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if this one ends up going to one of those states, in fact.
That is…if it doesn’t go to a collector, which it very well could.
The one you can bid on…
Russ Moravec, one of our longtime Tractor Zoom auction partners from Nebraska, is handling this retirement auction. We were talking about on the phone a few hours ago, and he told me that he’d gotten a lot of calls on it already. I wasn’t surprised to hear this – there’s some really nice older machinery on this sale!
I suspect that this tractor is going to garner a LOT of attention. Let’s face it: any IH Black Stripe is desirable, and the smallest “big” tractor in the series has its own share of desirability too. It’s a legit Black Stripe, and in fact, it’s a fairly late serial number as well (17336 – the final 766 was 18319).
This particular tractor lives in Schuyler, NE, about an hour and change northwest of Omaha, and is owned by Milo Jedlicka. I called him earlier this afternoon to chat for a few minutes about it. He’s the second owner of the tractor. He bought it from Victors Equipment in Fremont, NE on June 20, 1984, and it’s lived a pretty easy life since then. Milo is a small farmer, and for him, small equipment is the practical choice. Believe it or not, that 766 was his big horse for a while! Recently, it’s served him well as a loader tractor (the loader will sell separately, I believe).
The Paper Trail…
In addition to farming with the tractor, Milo is trained as a diesel mechanic, and has always worked on his own equipment. “It’s never been to the dealership since I bought it, other than once or twice for some warranty work,” he told me. Furthermore, Milo kept a detailed log book of all the maintenance on the tractor (as he has with nearly every piece of equipment on the sale). Every fluid change, every filter change, every major service. It’s all in a notebook that’ll go with the tractor.
The hour meter shows about 2800 hours, but Milo thinks that the tach may have been changed prior to coming home to the Jedlicka farm in 1984. He never was able to confirm that. However, based on the condition of the motor when he got it (you can see that he noted a major overhaul), he suspects that the tractor may have closer to 5000 hours on it.
Honestly, though, I wouldn’t worry about that. A tractor that’s been on a family farm like Milo’s where it’s been maintained and documented like that? I don’t get the feeling that you’re going to find any surprises with a tractor like that, y’know?
What’s it worth?
At the end of the day, probably a fair bit more than you might think.
This one has a lot going for it.
- Detailed maintenance records. That’ll add a LOT of value.
- Relatively low hours for its age.
- IH Black Stripe tractors (all models) have been faked for years. This one is legit.
- 766s are sought-after.
- Cosmetically, it’s in good shape. The tin is in great shape – nice and straight. I’ll bet you’d be surprised how good that paint could look if somebody spent some time working it over.
- Corn and soybeans are doing unbelievably well right now, which means that farmers may be looking to upgrade/add machinery. A 766 would be a pretty major upgrade for a tired 560 auger tractor. It’d be dynamite with a 6′ mower on the back during the summers, too!
- Lastly (and this probably ties back to the last point), dealers are having a hard time getting inventory of any size right now. While it might not have some of the creature comforts of late-model tractors, the fact is…it’s available and it’s mechanically sound. There are definitely buyers out there that’d pay a thousand or two more just for the fact that it’s available!
Taking all of those things into consideration, and after looking at our Iron Comps database for a bit, I think it might take $15K or more to take it home! That might sound crazy, but a legit IH Black Stripe is desirable and the market is hot right now!
Either way, it’ll be interesting to see what happens with this tractor!
Update: This one’s a record-setter, folks!
Boy, was I wrong when I said that it’d take $15K to take this one home! Congrats to Russ Moravec and his team for an utterly amazing sale! They set the bar pretty darn high for mid-sized tractors like this one! They beat the previous record like it owed ’em money! $7000 higher than any other 766 that’s ever rolled across an auction block in at least 20 years…maybe more!
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. There’ll ALWAYS be a strong market for clean, well-maintained farm equipment.