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He Tracked Down His Dad's 1946 Farmall H
Have you ever wondered what happened to Grandpa's Farmall 560? Are you still looking for your uncle's long lost Ford 8N, or your dad's first tractor? If so, you're not alone. Jon Kinzenbaw of Williamsburg, Iowa, founder and CEO of Kinze Manufacturing, started his search for his father's 1946 Farmall H during the early 1980's.
Kinzenbaw has collected many tractors over the years, but the one he wanted to find the most was the first one his father ever owned. Eugene John Kinzenbaw, or Jack, as everyone called him, purchased the tractor after returning home from World War II. In the fall of 1945 Jack bought the family farm and applied for a permit to purchase a tractor. As a veteran he was given the first chance to buy a new tractor from the local dealer. He ordered the Farmall H in the spring of 1946.
Jon was introduced to the tractor early on. He says he can remember riding on the tractor with his dad when he was only four years old. "By the time I was nine years old, Dad had an off-farm job so I did the plowing and everything."
They used the tractor to plow, disk, harrow, and plant on their 160-acre farm. "One tractor did it all until sometime in the mid 1950's," says Jon.
Jon says his father liked to tinker. He made a throttle for the tractor - a vertical lever with a squeeze grip on top - that extended as high as the steering wheel, making it easier for Jon to reach. He also bolted a 3-in. wooden block to a hinge so that his young son could reach the clutch from the seat. When Jon was 9, the block was removed and hung in a shed. Another identifiying factor about the tractor that Jon remembered was the rubber knob on the shifter - it had his father's initials, EK, engraved in it.
By the mid 1950's, the family was farming with two tractors - the H and an old Farmall F-20. One day the F-20 blew up, so in 1956 both tractors were traded in for a Super M. In 1962 Jon got his first job working as a mechanic for the dealer they had traded the loyal H to. Rumor around the shop was that the old H was somewhere in the county.
Jon's father died in 1982. By the early 1980's Jon had started collecting a few Farmalls. When he asked around to see if anyone knew where the 1946 Farmall H might be, no one had a clue. "We thought the tractor was lost forever and assumed that the old homemade throttle had been removed," says Jon.
By 1990 he had collected more than 100 tractors, but still had no luck in the search for his dad's first tractor. He spent hours driving around the country checking back lanes and lots in search of the tractor. Partially giving up, in 1992 he bought a 1946 Farmall from someone down South. "I was going to restore it, because it was as close as I thought I'd ever get to dad's Farmall," he says.
About this time, his 11-year-old son Jonathan became a 4-H member. For his county fair project, together father and son set out to restore and repower a 1970 Cub Cadet. While they showed it at the county fair it rained cats and dogs, and Jon found himself inside a building viewing the other 4-H exhibits. He was drawn to a photo exhibit where one photo in particular caught his attention. It was of a rustic tractor sitting in the weeds with the sun setting behind it. The tractor was a Farmall H. "This crazy throttle was sticking up. At that time, it hit me like a ton of bricks. This rascal had the same Goodyear tires. The seat itself was the right seat. All those things clicked, and I was positive that I had spotted dad's old H."
Jon went in search of the exhibitor, Tanner Towe. He found the boy's mother and asked if the tractor was for sale. She told him that it belonged to Tanner's father who was out of town. However, she said he would probably sell the tractor.
The next Saturday, Kinzenbaw and his 14-year-old daughter drove out to look at the tractor and confirmed that it was indeed the one his dad had owned. The next day he asked Mr. Towe how much he wanted for the tractor. He held his breath, knowing that to him this particular tractor was worth almost any price. Mr. Towe said he would like $400 or $500. Kinzenbaw offered

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1998 - Volume #22, Issue #2