1912 Mogul 45 | Octane Press

1912 Mogul 45

The Dangers of Working in Texas

Photographer and author Lee Klancher shot this tractor for the Farmall Calendar 2017. Here he shares some insights into the process by which he brings these impressive machines to life.

ABOUT THE TRACTOR
The massive Mogul 45 was one of International Harvester’s first serious efforts at manufacturing tractors. Their first model, the Type A, was built using a heavily modified chassis design purchased from another company, and the subsequent machines were built in a circus tent erected near the factories in Chicago. The Mogul 45 came out of their new tractor manufacturing plant in Chicago, and featured some of the hallmark over-engineering typical of IH at that time.


Expensive and massive, these machines were owned mainly by large operations or wealthy farmers, and very few of them have survived to modern times. 



The twin-cylinder engine had a 9.5-inch stroke and 12-inch bore, displacing more than 1640 cubic inches. Starting the machine by hand was nearly impossible, so the tractor included a small gas engine “pony” motor used to start the big engine. Forward motion came via a clutch and gear drive, while reverse was a friction drive. 



This one is owned by Lou Buice of Moody, Texas, and is in gorgeously burnished original condition. 




Rusty and Nancy Steed are in the photograph below. The gamely agreed to dress up and look like they belonged back in the 1920s. They did a great job! 




The car below is Lou Buice’s 1911 International Harvester Autowagon, a beautiful old machine (more on red ants after the jump). 



TEXAS ATTACKS

This Mogul 45 shoot was supposed to be something special. And, as it turned out, it was. Just not quite what I expected . . .
 
I first saw the 45 while visiting Lou Buice’s place a while back. The tractor has this fabulous burnish on it that only comes from nearly a century of aging. I absolutely loved the tractor at first sight, and started plotting with Lou and his son, J.T., on how to properly photograph the machine.
 
We finally found a time to do that this past spring, and the idea was to recreate a field scene. We’d put the tractor out in the field at dusk, with a farmer on the tractor and his wife delivering lunch with Lou’s Autowagon.
 
J.T. was able to talk one of the guys at their place into dressing up in work clothes, and the Autowagon was pulled out of mothballs. I brought out lighting equipment and even a smoke machine, and off we went to make an image.
 
So the first problem was the Mogul 45 didn’t want to start. In fact, it took about an hour to start. By the time it was running, dusk had passed and the sky was pretty much full dark. My lighting plan relied on mixed light, and that was gone.
 
In the dark, I found the best angle came from laying on the ground, with much of the background dark sky. I shot the image that appears in the calendar while laying flat on the ground. Whiel the tractor was in a planted field, where I was laying was weedy, untended ground. 
 
Shortly after getting up, I noticed an itch under the waist band of my pants. I scratched that now and again as I continued to shoot. The itch became more urgent. I scratched more.
 
I figured I had sat in one of the many Texas plants that have thorns, spines and poisons. No big. I kept shooting.
 
And scratching. Every time I took a little break from making pictures, I scratched. 
 
I finished, packed up my equipment, and pulled my car near the Buice’s shed. The itch on my waist had spread up my back. I was a bit concerned, and asked the JT and the guys if they would take a look.
 
I turned around and pulled up my shirt.
 
The guys started howling.
 
“WHOA,” one said. “You better do something about THAT.”
 
My entire back was bright red. In fact, so was my chest. And my face. I was lit up like a Christmas tree.
 
“You want to take a shower?” JT asked. “We have one in the shop.”
 
I did. He found me a towel and a clean t-shirt. When I undressed in the bathroom, I looked in the mirror. I had a ring of bright red rash around my middle. My face was flushed bright pink. My chest was blazing. And my back was red from my neck to my butt. 
 
The shower helped cool me off, as did a clean t-shirt.
 
I exited the bathroom, took the sandwich the Buices offered, and loaded up the car and headed out on my 90-minute drive back to Austin. I wanted to get home-pronto!
 
I called my wife, Joan. She was concerned.
 
“Is your throat tightening up???” she asked immediately.
 
Nope. None of that.
 
“If it does,” she said. “STOP and CALL 911!"
 
I hadn’t thought about my air pipe swelling shut. Until that moment . . .
 
The rest of the drive is a bit of a blur. My hands itched like mad--I had to restrain myself from just scratching everything raw! About 40 minutes in, the itching seemed to back down a notch, and my color went from nuclear to my normal tones.
 
When I got home, I took ANOTHER shower and liberally applied calamine lotion. My wife found my back and waist covered with more than 60 bites, and another 40 bites on my arms and hards. I apparently laid down on a nest full of insects—most likely fire ants. They are nasty little bastards and the stings usually hurt like hell. 



Apparently, I’m not allergic to ‘em. Just another day in Texas!

This photograph is the July image in the Farmall Calendar 2017, photographed by Lee Klancher.

facebook Twitter LinkedIn