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!
Case 2670
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.

 

 

How the Case IH Magnum built a bridge…

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Bidding wraps up on this one-owner, 7200 hour Case IH Magnum 7130 on August 6, 2020. Click the photo to see the details on this beauty!

I’ve written about the Case IH Magnum plenty of times before, and I’ll probably do it again, because there are a lot different angles to the Magnum story. It wasn’t that they were just great tractors; for many farmers, they still set the standard!

The process of merging J.I. Case and IH wasn’t exactly easy. With overlapping equipment lines, models on both sides were scrapped. It was a business move, but inevitably, feelings got hurt. Whether perceived or real, there was definitely a wedge between Case and IH employees (dealers too).

Everybody in the new company knew their future depended two things. America had to survive the farm crisis, and the Magnum had to be a big hit. The employees knew they had a really solid product; still, if either of those two things didn’t happen, those employees were going to be looking for new jobs in a time when new jobs weren’t real easy to get. When you’re fighting for your job, you tend to band together and bust it a lot harder.

The Magnum became the bridge-builder and put the “us” and “them” mentality to bed for Case and IH. They banded together because they had to, and built a tractor that America still relies on to this day. Hard to argue with that kind of determination, isn’t it?

This Magnum 7130 MFWD is a super-clean one-owner tractor with just under 7200 hours on the meter. It lives in Montana right now, and our friends at Pifer’s Auction & Realty are sending it home to a new owner on Thursday, August 6! Click the photo to go to the listing!

Browse Case IH Magnum tractors going to auction near you!
Fun Fact – The first Magnum off the line was a 7140 MFWD. Case IH worked it so hard that it was eventually scrapped. The 2nd one off the line? It was a 7130, and it still exists today!

FU-235D: The French Farmall tractor!

French Farmall FU 235 D tractor at collector tractor auction
McCormick Deering FU-235D – This one lives in Wyoming for the next few hours! Click the photo to see more photos and details and a link to get in on the bidding!

This nifty little French Farmall tractor is the FU-235D. It’s a 26-horse diesel-powered utility tractor. IHC built it just outside of Paris from 1957-1959, and never brought it to the North American market. I’ll bet you couldn’t find more than 10 of ’em here in the States! It’s on an auction that ends later today.

Mechanically, it’s very similar to the Super C. In fact, the gas rowcrop and utility models actually share the same engine. The diesel version, however, has a European-only FD-123 motor.

I did a little digging and found out that before it went to Wyoming, this tractor spent some time with owners in Wisconsin and Nebraska. The current owner tore it apart for an extensive restoration about 200 hours ago. As I understand it, he basically rebuilt or replaced just about everything on the tractor!  That’s a very good thing, too, because parts for the FD-123 motor aren’t exactly plentiful here in North America. Bob (the tractor’s owner) did the heavy lifting for you on this one when he did the restoration! No expensive and hard-to-find parts to buy, and no language barriers to overcome to make sure you’re getting what you need! Truthfully, this one is about as parade-ready as you can get! All you need to do is fuel it up, get in the seat, and drive it!

If you like this little French Farmall tractor, and you’re up for a little more history on Farmalls and Internationals sold across the globe, you should probably head over to our friends at Octane Press and pick up a copy of their book, Red Tractors 1958-2018. The first chapter picks up with a nice writeup of IH’s French operations! (Actually, if you’re a tractor nerd, you really need to have this book on your shelf anyway. Lee Klancher assembled a TERRIFIC team of historians and former IH employees to write this book, and the finished product is awesome!)

Final Hammer Price: $3100