2013 - Volume #37, Issue #2, Page #23[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
Perfectly Restored Massey Harris 222 Combine
Most folks wouldn’t have attempted the restoration, he admits, because of the extent of parts that needed replacing or fixing. But only 475 of the Massey Harris 222 combines were built in 1948, and between its rarity and nostalgia, he felt it was worth the effort. It took him a long time to find the machine, which had been parked in a field for more than 35 years by the original owner in Patricia, Alta.
Holo had an idea what he was getting into. He had previously restored a Massey Harris 21-A combine and an old Dodge farm truck so that he could retrace the route of the “Great Harvest Brigade” harvesting wheat on farms from Oklahoma to the Dakotas (www.customharvesttribute.com). The Brigade refers to Massey Harris’s proposal to the government during WWII (in 1944) to let them have enough steel over their quota to produce self-propelled combines for 500 farmers who each pledged to combine at least 2,000 acres of grain. Many of the combine owners followed the harvest north as the crops ripened.
After a collector purchased Holo’s 21-A combine, he decided to find and restore a 222.
“One of the selling points of the 222 was that Massey Harris was in the process of changing the drives,” he says. “The old 21-A’s had stick transmissions without much variable speed. The 222 has variable speed, and is very maneuverable. It’s easy to operate in tight corners.”
Holo also liked its size – just 8 ft. wide and easy to haul on a trailer. The shiny, working combine he hauls to shows is a far cry from the rusted piece of metal delivered to him in 2007.
All the bolts were so rusted they had to be ground off, and many parts of the combine had rusted through and needed to be rebuilt – the grain elevators, augers, the straw walker housings, the bottom of the grain tank, reel bats, air intake and exhaust pipes, etc. The old sicklebar was salvaged, but fitted with new knife sections. New wooden reel arms were stained cherry red.
As Holo tore down the combine, he realized it wasn’t an ordinary 222.
“I have a parts book for the 222 model and every part on this machine is identical except for the engine and drive chain. That makes it unique,” he explains. The 222 model had a 4-cylinder, flathead F-162 Continental engine and a single roller chain. Holo’s combine has a 6-cylinder 217 Chrysler engine and a double roller chain like the Model 26, the 222’s successor. A former Massey Harris employee said the combine was likely a test machine, which is how Holo labeled the finished combine with decals.
The only modification he made was on the unloading auger so that he could lower it by himself from a support rod to transport it on a trailer.
Holo had the combine on the road soon after completing it last summer. He took it to events in Baraboo, Wis., Le Sueur, Minn., and more recently to the U.S. Custom Harvesters Convention in Kansas City. But his most memorable moment occurred at the Farm Progress Show in Illinois.
“The man who I sold the first combine to was there, and we ran both combines together,” Holo says.
“Combines are just fascinating to me. I could get on one and stay on there all day,” he adds. They bring back good memories for him – riding that new combine, working with his dad and running his own harvesting business for a few years.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Len Holo, 2810 Hallie Ln., Eau Claire, Wis. 54703 (ph 715 563-8439; firstname.lastname@example.org).
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