1961 Farmall 404

Darrel Darst's Hardworking Machine
post by
Lee Klancher
Media Name: farmall_404-06a.jpg

The Farmall 404 was built on the first day of production in 1961. The model is a great example of model evolution. The chassis is based on the venerable Model C, first introduced in 1948. The 404 offered more power and features as well as a three-point hitch, and the model was offered from 1961 to 1968. While it lacks an independent power take-off, the little 404 offers a nice balance of compact size, spacing and clearance well-suited to row-crop cultivation, and enough reliability to make it appealing to modern day farmers working small acreage plots.
The 404 is is 95 percent original with the original tires, something you don't see much anymore. It had all the options including power steering, three-point hitch, deluxe seat, as well as wide front and extended rear axle.
This 404 is being worked by Darrell Darst, the editor of Harvester Highlights and a dedicated International Harvester historian. Darrell and Kevin, his wife, own an interesting International Harvester museum that is on their property near Madison, Missouri. Their space is jam-packed with interesting bits of history, as well as a large collection of Irma Harding memorabilia and IH-built appliances. Kevin and Darrell are fixtures in the IH collector world, and the 404 helps work their farm each year.
“I bought the tractor in Michigan and have had it for 15 years,” Darst said. “Recently I sold the tractor to Mike and Kris McDaniel from Washington, Missouri who will baby it like I have.”  


The sequence of images tells a bit of story of how a photographer thinks. Darrell’s original condition 404 was not ideal for a static beauty shot, but it was perfect to be captured at work. As it happens, Darrell had it all set up. So off to the field he went, and the shot above was my first. I wanted to capture Darrell, and also take advantage of the nice light.
I put the light to my back, and made the image below. The image isn't bad, but there isn't enough light on the tractor. 

The light on the top of the trees caught my eyes, so I shot the image below. I was getting happier, but there isn’t enough light on the machine and the planter obscures the subject.

So I then shot these two with as high dynamic range (HDR) images. This technique knits together three differently exposed images into one file, which allows you to see into the shadows and capture the highlights as well. Note that Darrell had to stop and the tractor sit perfectly still while I made the three shots. While I’ve lost interest in shooting HDRs—I find most of them cartoonish, over-saturated and unnatural--I do like both of these images.

This image was shot a few minutes later. I love this shot. This is not an HDR, so Darrell is actually working, and the light on Darrell is perfect. 

Just for the sake of doing it, I’m also including shots of the museum owned by Darrell and his wife, Kevin. The place is packed with fascinating pieces of IH history, and well worth the trip to Madison, Missouri.

At the bottom, I’m including my mystery bridge. This was in the same folder, and shot at 5:19 a.m. the morning after I took the shots at Darrell’s place. The bridge is somewhere between Madison, Missouri and Keystone, Iowa.
I don’t have records of where I stayed that night, but I know it was shot on September 16, 2012. If anyone out there can identify the bridge, I’ll send you a free calendar! Contact me here

For more amazing photographs check out the Farmall Calendar 2017!