1947 McCormick W-9

Bernard's Beauty
post by
Lee Klancher
Media Name: w9header5.jpg
Photographer and author Lee Klancher shot the May image for the Farmall Calendar 2017. Here he shares some insights into the process by which he brings these impressive farm machines to life.

The McCormick W-9 was one of the earliest IH high-powered field machines. While it’s 52 drawbar horsepower isn’t much by today’s standards, this was one of the most powerful machines in the line when it was introduced in 1940. As the model aged, farmer’s needed larger machines, and the fact that IH didn’t introduce them led innovators like the Steiger family to build much larger machines at home in their garage (but that’s another story entirely!). This W9 was restored by Bernard Selensky of Baytown, Texas to honor farmer Neil Burnside. Selensky worked for Burnside for many years, and ran W9s just like this one. Selensky eventually cofounded a seed company. When he sold his portion and retired, his first task was to restore this W-9. He found it in Kansas, and did all but the sheet metal work with his own hands.

I first learned about this McCormick W9 out at Louis Buice’s place in 2012.  I was photographing his 1911 Titan tractor (see below), and nearly blinded the owner of the W9, Bernard Selensky. We were shooting the Titan at night. I was using eight-foot umbrellas to soften the light, and the wind was blowing fairly hardEven with a heavy weight on the stand, the wind would knock over the lights. So I recruited several people—including Bernard—to hold the lights in place while I shot.

I shot for nearly an hour, and poor Bernard didn’t always close his eyes when the flash popped. It’s also possible that I forgot to alert him I was going to shoot . . .. Bernard was seeing stars for a while that night, so I’m told.
After that shoot, Bernard emailed me photographs of the W9 he had just finished, and it was beautiful.
On March 31, 2016, I headed back to the Buice’s to photograph their lovely 45 horsepower Mogul. Lou Buice and his son, , specialize in early tractors, and I had been wanting to photograph the 45 for a long time.
As it happened, Bernard’s W-9 was out at the Buice’s place. So we took some images of it out in the field as the light warmed up.
Then the big 45 was due to come out. Unfortunately, that machine didn’t want to start (more on that later), so we put the W-9 in the nice light on the sprouting beans. I put two lights on it, and the shot that resulted was strong. As it turned out, I only made about six images in that spot, as the big 45 started and I had to scramble to move my lighting setup.
The shot of the W9 was solid, and we used on the cover of the 2017 Farmall Calendar. Maybe Bernard will now forgive me for nearly blinding him . . ..