Red Power Isn’t Always Red

Author Photo
By Mel Boone

The annual Red Power Round Up was held last month. It’s held in a different location every year. This year, I got lucky to have it in my home state at the Missouri State Fairgrounds in Sedalia. With it being fairly close to home, I was able to attend.

Unlike most tractor shows that I go to, the Round Up is an International Harvester only show, while other shows feature all brands. The IH brand, if you’re not familiar with it, includes Farmall, McCormick Deering, Cub Cadet, IH trucks, implements, and household appliances. At one time, the company was one of a few manufacturers of the M1 Grande rifle. One of the fascinating things for me were the trucks ranging from the Highwheeler/auto wagons built in 1908 up to the fairly new semi.

When you come to the Round Up, regardless if you are an exhibitor or a spectator, one thing becomes quite obvious. Red Power doesn’t always mean it’s red.

IH tractors built before 1937 were painted gray. However, a 1935 Farmall traveled all the way from North Carolina to the show that was painted green. If I understand the owner correctly, the previous owner found green paint hidden under one of the side rails and painted the tractor to match the paint that was found. Nobody is sure why it was painted green to begin with. Perhaps it was a special order from the factory, perhaps by the original owner (farmer, conservation department, or military?). Some things really are a mystery, and I hope the owner can trace the F-20’s story.

There are demonstrators as well. IH did that with some of the letter series tractors. They painted them white at the factory and sent them to the dealership. The dealerships would then use these tractors to demonstrate to the farmer how those tractors worked. If the farmer bought a demonstrator, the tractor would have red paint applied over the white paint before being delivered. IH did the same thing with some of its number series tractors. Those had the hoods painted gold.

At any large gathering of IH products, there’s always a yellow one. If it’s yellow, there’s a chance that you may see a sickle bar mower with it. Those are state department tractors used to mow the road banks.

This year’s Round Up had a model M painted black. I don’t know why, but it really stood out and the paint job was very well done. The M next to it was an eyecatcher as well. It was painted red, but had a V-8 in it. It definitely didn’t come from the factory like that nor do I think you will find it in the field!

My favorite displays come down to a tie. One display was a nice selection of pink tractors. Guys, don’t laugh, roll your eyes or complain about this one. They’re pink for a reason. If you ever had a loved one diagnosed with cancer, you’ll get it. Trust me.

The highwheelers are my other favorite. I had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to ride in the truck parade in an autowagon built in 1908. It’s a memory I will never forget and I appreciate so much the owner letting me ride with him. All of the trucks, highweelers and autowagons were beautifully restored. One of the most eye-catching was built in 1910 and painted a beautiful shade of blue. Auto makers don’t make them like they used to.

Published on Jul 7, 2015