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How Massey Harris became a Harvesting Giant

Just before the outbreak of World War 2, Massey Harris engineers had a breakthrough: the invention of the self-propelled combine. While the Model 20 combine was heavy and expensive, it represented a revolution in grain harvesting. The company saw the incredible potential of this invention and invested considerable resources in improving the first model. Just before war broke out, the Model 21 began production.

Then everything changed. Wartime production needs, rationing, and the shift of able-bodied men to the fighting forces put huge pressures on the Massey Harris company (and others like it). At the same time, the few farmers that remained were tasked with feeding the world. As famine swept across Europe and those on the home front faced strict rationing, grain crops in North America reached record highs. The trouble came in finding enough workers and equipment to bring in the harvests.

This is when Joe Tucker, sales manager for Massey-Harris USA, had a stroke of genius. He convinced the War Production Board to authorize the production of 500 brand-new Model 20 combines. He persuaded the board (which was in charge of manufacturing and related rationing) that the Massey-Harris Model 21 was the best in the world, capable of harvesting more grain with less fuel and less manpower than any other implement. The board agreed, and authorized the production with one catch: each purchaser must sign a contract to harvest at least 2,000 acres of grain. The deal was struck, and the Massey-Harris Harvest Brigade was born.

The Harvest Brigade was a huge undertaking. The 500 combines, purchased by independent operators, fanned out across the grain belt. Cutters started in Texas and followed the harvest north into Canada. The massive, coordinated effort involved a network of dealers, repair teams, and even company airplanes to monitor the operation. By the time the harvest was brought in, the brigade harvested more than one million acres of grain.

The brigade was such a success that the War Production Board authorized the production of 750 more combines the following year. It achieved national press coverage, too – catapulting the Massey-Harris brand combine to market dominance.

Here’s my favorite advertisement from the era – a 1945 recruitment poster for the harvest brigade. It makes me want to jump on a combine of my own!

massey harris harvest brigade

Last year only 500 capable, determined Harvest Brigade operators with new Massey-Harris Self-Propelled combines saved over a million acres of America’s grain. Much of this grain might never have been cut had it not been for the tireless effort of these operators and the outstanding performance of the Self-Propelled combine.

Yes, the Brigade achieved a famous victory in 1944, but another emergency must be met in 1945. The need for grain is still great – the supply of new machines and labor still small. A new Brigade is forming and we want the finest operators in this territory to purchase the 1945 Brigade Self-Propelled Combines. If you are an experienced operator capable of harvesting 2,000 acres in 1945, or a farmer whose needs justify the allotment of a Self-Propelled combine, get in touch with your Massey-Harris dealer below.

Sweeping over the entire length and breadth of America’s great grain belt, the 500 Brigade operators averaged 2039 acres per combine in 1944. Never before was so much grain harvested by so few men and machines in so little time and at such low operating cost per acre. Ask your Massey-Harris dealer to show you the operating record and see for yourself the dollars and cents advantages of Self-Propelled combine ownership.

For more information, see


Keep your tractor clean with new air cleaner parts

New Air Cleaner Parts

Keep the dirt out of your tractor’s carburetor and engine with our new line of air cleaner hoses which fit IH/Farmall and John Deere. Replace that damaged or missing air cleaner pipe on a Massey 35, TO35, 202, and 204 with our new MFS2696. Each part is an exact reproduction of the original. View details >>


Hydraulic Lift Cover Repair Video

hyd-lift-cover-repairFord Ferguson Lift Cover Repair ~ Rachel Gingell goes thru the steps to repair a lift cover on a Ford 8N, the steps will also work on a Ford 9N, Ford 2N, Massey Ferguson TO20 or Massey Ferguson TO30. Many of the bolts and pins were removed or loosened ahead to save time. This video is one of a series of videos we are making with Rachel to help with your tractor restoration.

#WrenchingwithRachel  #TractorRestoration #NewPartsforOldTractors #Ford

Tractor Stories – Massey Harris

In the early summer of 2005, a friend of mine told me about this tractor he spotted at his friends farm. After being bugged for weeks to go look at it, I did. Turns out it was a Massey Harris. Looking at it from a distance I could see there were two W-6 McCormicks sitting with it. SDC10075
The owner of them asked me what I would give him for all three of them. Again viewing them from about a hundred yards away, I said I would give him two hundred each for the W-6s and a hundred dollars for the Massey. We then took a walk out to get a better look at them. As I got close to them I thought that it was a 100 series. Then I noticed the Rakinghayheavy cast hubs on the steering axle. I knew it wasn't a 100 series then but sure didn't expect it to be what it was. I looked at the serial number tag and found it to be a 201. I wrote down the serial number and went home to do a little research. Turns out the serial number is 91203.

It sure didn't look like much when I got it but it is coming together

Colin Colbourne

Shiny Emblems for Shiny Tractors

Get those tractors ready for the summer shows!


A. JDS896 – Chrome metal hood ornament fits: John Deere 2040 SN: 350000 & up, 2150, 2155, 2255, 2350, 2355, (2440 SN: 341000 & up), 2550, 2555, (2640 SN: 341000 & up), 2750, 2755, 2855, 2940, 2950, 3150, 4030, 4040, 4050, 4055, 4230, 4240, 4250, 4255, 4430, 4440, 4450, 4455, 4550, 4555, 4630, 4640, 4650, 4755, 4840, 4850, 4955, 8430, 8440, 8450, 8630, 8640, 8650, 8850

B. MFS1631 – Chrome front emblem fits: Massey Ferguson 50, 65, 85, 88, 97, 98
More emblem selections at

What is your tractor’s story?


Last year’s photo contest was a big hit and left many people asking for more tractor stories. So this year we will be hosting a tractor stories contest. Did you find a rusty tractor that needed restoration? Did you inherit the family tractor that has kept the farm running for over 50 years? Or did you just catch the antique tractor bug? Whatever it is, share your story and photos with us!

The contest opened for participation on Friday, April 1, 2011 and will run through Wednesday, June 15, 2011. We will announce the winners on July 4th via our website, e-mail, Facebook© and Twitter™. They will be featured in our 2012 catalog and will receive bragging rights among antique tractor enthusiasts everywhere!

Anyone with an antique tractor, a digital camera, a great story and a desire to win is encouraged to enter! You do not have to be a current customer of ours to participate; however, if you are a customer, feel free to make note of the products you used for your restoration in the story. Dan Steiner will have the final vote on the winning story. Each individual is permitted to submit up to three tractor photos.* The photos must be less than 3MB to upload through the website (though we may contact the winners for a higher resolution for print purposes).

Be sure to use the built in share features to share your entry with your social network including family and friends. The more voting, the better! Also, if you provide more details about the make and model of the tractor and the location of the photo(s), you are likely to entice people to vote for your tractor.

Mouse_Pad Just for participating you will receive a "My #1 Tractor" mouse pad with photo opening to proudly display your tractor photo.


For more information visit us at Best Antique Tractor.

Good luck!

How can I tell which starter I need for my Ferguson tractor?

(Applies to Ferguson TE20, TEA20 w/ 80 mm engine and TO20.)

When the flywheel ring gear is toward the engine block your tractor was ‘Lucas’ equipped. Use part MFS069 or MFS069-12V.

When the flywheel ring gear is toward the transmission your tractor was ‘Delco’ equipped. Use MFS135

NOTE: TEA20 (SN: 200001 & up) with 85 mm engines used a starter with a ‘exposed’ drive Bendix only available by special order.

Good Luck with your project.


Visitors from Alberta

09 Don Ellingson and his wife Beth stopped in to pick up a load of parts on the way back to their home in Calgary.

Don is the owner of Tune-Rite Tractor Parts in Alberta Canada. They sell tires, decals and reproduction parts for antique and classic tractors.

In addition to selling parts for old tractors, Don is also an avid collector of 

Massey Harris tractors. While in the US on this trip he attended the Massey Harris Expo in Pinckneyville, IL. Maybe some of you met him there!

Tune-Rite Tractor Parts is located at 33080 Rocky Range View, Calgary, Alberta, Canada the toll free number is 1.877.636.0005.  If you are located in Western Canada, Don is a valuable resource for ordering your Steiner Tractor Parts.  Reach Don on his toll free number, or contact him by email at

In Stock Massey Tractor Data Book

BOK1215 We have just received a shipment of Massey tractor data books.

The ‘Massey Tractor Data Book’ has been out of print since 1999, and now Steiner Tractor Parts has the exclusive print.

The books are brand new and available for immediate shipment. You can order a BOK1215 online or by calling 1-800-234-3280.