Books About John Deere

Books About International Harvester

Other Brands and Farm Tractor Development

Small Farming and Rural Life

Restoring Tractors and Engines

The American Farm Tractor:  A History of the Classic Tractor.   Randy Leffingwell, 1991.

This is the first "tractor book" I bought, and it remains my favorite.  Well-researched and well-written chapters on John Deere, Caterpillar, Allis-Chalmers, Case, IH, Ford, Massey, White, and "the Orphan Tractors."  Not a definitive study of any one brand, but a very good general history of each brand covered.  Great photos, mostly of less-common types like high-crops or orchard models.  Also available in paperback.

Tractors - Icons of the American Landscape.  Randy Leffingwell, 2000.

Leffingwell's survey of the machines and innovations that shaped the course of farm tractor development.  It devotes 36 separate chapters to individual tractors, ranging from a J.I. Case steam traction engine to the original Farmall, the John Deere R to the Farmall Super MTA, the Deere 4010 to the Caterpillar Challenger, and many others.  Nice coffee-table book, with Randy's trademark scholarly research, excellent writing, and terrific photography.  Originally published in hardback (with a more accurate title) as Farm Tractor Milestones.

Classic Farm Tractors.  Randy Leffingwell, 1996.

Extremely similar to The American Farm Tractor, above, but with a substantially less-detailed text.  I suspect this was a publisher's marketing effort, condensing and repackaging Leffingwell's original classic into a less-expensive version to generate some more sales without really having to write a new book.  Not a bad book, but buy the other one.

America's Classic Farm Tractors.  Randy Leffingwell, 1999.

Another publisher's marketing package, this book borrows material from the author's Classic Farm Tractors (left) and adds it onto the first nine chapters of the author's Farm Tractors - A Living History (below).  That makes it a big volume, at 432 pages long.  Not bad, but I'd still go with the real originals:  The American Farm Tractor and Farm Tractors - A Living History.

Standard Catalog of Farm Tractors, 1890-1960.  C.H. Wendell, 2005

Great big collection of old advertising art, black and white photos, Nebraska Test results, and brief descriptions of a huge variety of old tractors.  Estimated dollar values are given for some.  Tractors are sorted alphabetically by manufacturer, from the Abenaque Machine Works to the Zimmerman Auto Tractor Company, with nearly 1000 companies in between.  Some get only a few lines of text or a few paragraphs, covering their brief involvement in the tractor business; others get many more.  John Deere alone has 50 pages, covering the Dain to the 8630.  Like all catalogs, you don't really read this book--you browse it.

Farm Tractors - A Living History.  Randy Leffingwell, 1995. 

Detailed, well-researched, well-written history of the development of steam engines, internal combustion engines, and major events in tractor evolution such as the Nebraska tests, rubber tires, three-point hitch, etc.  Extremely high quality color photos throughout, mostly of unusual makes and types of tractors:  A 1909 Phoenix Log Hauler (steam railroad engine on crawler tracks), Wallis Bear, Ford Model T conversion, Sheppard Diesel, Ford 971 LPG, and many others.

The Farm Tractor: 100 Years of North American Tractors.  Ralph Sanders, 2007.

I haven't tried this one yet but I liked This Old Tractor, which the author co-edited, and he's photographed quite a few other books and calendars.  I expect this to be a handsome coffee-table book along the lines of Randy Leffingwell's The American Farm Tractor, above, and the foreword by baseball Hall of Famer (and old-tractor fan) Bob Feller is probably fun.

The Big Book of Farm Tractors.  Robert Pripps and Andrew Morland, 2001.

Another historical survey of farm tractor evolution, beginning with steam power in the late 1800s and continuing through the modern era, including a chapter on early farm crawlers.  I haven't read this one yet but I like previous books by the authors and think this one looks pretty good.

Classic American Streamliners.  Mike Schafer and Joe Welsh, 1997.

Not exactly a tractor book, but there are a lot of interesting parallels between the classic streamlined trains and the classic streamlined tractors.  And this is a very enjoyable book--lots of historical photos and ads, and well-written, detailed text.  I particularly enjoyed reading about the design work done for the New York Central by Henry Dreyfuss and for the Pennsylvania Railroad by Raymond Loewy--the same industrial designers who created so many classic designs for John Deere (Dreyfuss) and International Harvester (Loewy).  Republished in paperback in 2002 as Streamliners - A History of the Railroad Icon.



Original Allis-Chalmers 1933-1957.  Guy Fay, 2001.

Guy Fay is a meticulous researcher.  I don't yet have this book but his Farmall Letter Series Tractors is an outstanding reference on original design and detailing of those machines, and this looks like the counterpart for the classic Allis line.  Expect good photos, interesting technical details, and concise writing.


Allis-Chalmers Farm Equipment 1914-1985.   Norm Swinford, 1994. 

The definitive look at Allis-Chalmers, from an author with a lasting passion for Allis and more than 30 years of experience working for the company.



Full Steam Ahead: J. I. Case Tractors and Equipment 1842-1955.  David Erb and Eldon Brumbaugh, 1996.

Comprehensive history of Case, one of the pioneers of the steam tractor industry and a long-time builder of agricultural equipment.  I don't have this book yet but intend to buy a copy--the Case VAH we had when I was a kid was a wonderful and dependable old tractor, and this book looks to be well done.  It's published by the American Society of Agricultural Engineers.

Case Tractors, Steam to Diesel.   Dave Arnold, 1990. 

Good photos, very brief but decent text, mostly written as captions to photographs.




About Cockshutt.  William H. Cockshutt, 2004.

A history of the Cockshutt Farm Equipment company of Canada and the tractors, trucks, and equipment they manufactured over the company's 85-year history.  The Cockshutt 30 (pictured on the book cover) was the first production farm tractor with a successful "live" power takeoff, and, like only a few other tractors, seemed to just get everything right and become a lasting classic.

Cockshutt -- The Complete Story.   International Cockshutt Club, Inc. 1999.

Another excellent survey of Cockshutt, compiled by the International Cockshutt Club and published by the American Society of Agricultural Engineers.



Ford Farm Tractors.  Randy Leffingwell, 1998.

A great history of Henry Ford's long involvement with farm tractors, his partnerships with Harry Ferguson and others, and a lot of other great stuff.  Like other Leffingwell books, this one is thoroughly researched and superbly photographed.  In some cases the writing and editing doesn't seem as smooth as in the author's books on John Deere or on farm tractors in general, but this is still the benchmark book on Ford tractors.  Originally published in hardback.

Ford N Series Tractors.  Rod Beemer and Chester Peterson, 1997.

Looks like just the thing if you have, want, or are otherwise interested in a 9N, 2N, or 8N.  These little tractors rank among the great ones, with their "Ferguson system" 3-point hitch and practical design.

Ford Farm Tractors of the 1950s.  Randy Leffingwell, 2001.

I haven't read this but it looks like another case where the publisher re-edits material originally developed for a more comprehensive book (Ford Farm Tractors, above, which covers the entire run including the 1950s) into a less-expensive edition.  The photos are probably ones not used in the earlier book but are bound to be great anyway, and Leffingwell's text is usually well researched and well written.

Ford Tractors.  Pripps and Morland, 1990.

Good photos, brief but decent text.  Available separately, or combined with the authors' Farmall and John Deere books into Great American Farm Tractors.




A Farm Boy's Dream:  The Story of Versatile.  Jarrod Pakosh, 2003.

A history of Versatile founder Peter Pakosh and his company, by the founder's grandson.  Looks like an excellent tribute to Mr. Pakosh, his company and tractors, and the dedication of the author.  Visit the book's website for a preview.




Minneapolis-Moline Farm Tractors.  Peterson and Beemer, 2000.

Another that I need to purchase--I've got an earlier MM book by Wendel and Morland and it's a good basic survey, but it's out of print now.  This newer one looks like an excellent history.  Starts at the beginning with the Moline Plow Company and the Minneapolis Threshing Machine Company, and continues through the company's entire run.



Oliver Farm Tractors.  T. Herbert Morrell and Jeff Hackett, 1997.

The definitive Oliver history, with lots of great historical photos and behind-the-scenes text from author Morrell, a former chief engineer at the corporation.  Out of print now, but available used.

Oliver Tractors.  Robert Pripps and Andrew Morland, 1994.

Good photos, brief but decent text.  I like this series of books by Pripps and Morland--their books were among the earliest to cover specific makes of antique and classic tractors, and they're inexpensive and enjoyable to read.





Thanks for visiting!  E-mail me at if you have any comments--I'm always glad to talk tractors and such. --Dean Vinson
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