The IH-Hough Connection and the Infamous 4300 | Octane Press

The IH-Hough Connection and the Infamous 4300

An excerpt from Red 4WD Tractors

When International Harvester acquired Hough they also acquired the 4WD-1 prototype, which was quickly developed into the 4300 tractor. The 4300 would come to be known as a disastrous flop for IH, but it began as a promising and innovative machine, with a bright future ahead. Read about the early days of the IH-Hough connection and the development of the 4300 tractor in this excerpt from Red 4WD Tractors.

          In late 1952, Frank G. Hough, inventor of the PayLoader line of rigid-frame four-wheel-drive, rear-wheel-steered loaders, sold his company to International Harvester for $7.8 million, the same year Hough had successfully launched its first pair of dedicated drawbar tractors: the four-wheel-drive, rear-steer TM PayLoader tractor and the two-wheel-drive, front-steer TC060 PayLoader tractor.

Hough’s ModelTM was similar in design to the Model HM PayLoader, but the TM was equipped with a torgque converter in addition to a friction clutch to transfer power from the engine to all four wheels. This machine proved successful and versatile in rail yards, where it excelled at railcar switching and other drawbar work. The machine, although capable outside the freight yard, was rarely seen far from it. The TC-60 was put into service primarily as a factory parts tug, airport baggage cart prime move, and as a small aircraft tug. This entire line of PayLoader tractors was renamed PayMover, and reconditioned versions of these machines can still be seen on the tarmac at airports around the world.
The red-and-white Hough-build 4WD-1 agricultural tow tractor prototype was loosely styled after the then-current farm tractors, but its underpinnings were taken from the PayMover program. Wisconsin Historical Society

The operator’s station on the 4WD-1 prototype was little changed on the production model 4WD-3, later name the 4300, and it was borrowed directly from the PayMover program. Wisconsin Historical Society.
The Birth of the 4300
           Upon its debut in 1961, the International 4300 farm tractor was significant to the agricultural community because of its 214 drawbar horsepower, unique three-way steering, dedicated four-wheel drive, and sheer size. The tractor was additional significant for International Harvester because it was the first farm tractor to be offered with a turbocharged engine from the factory. The 4300 also stood out because it was painted yellow–the color most often associated with IH’s construction equipment division. Perhaps the most unusual thing about the 4300 is that it is a farm tractor that was designed and built by the Frank G. Hough Company of Libertyville, Illinois, which was by then an IH subsidiary.

By 1957, IH’s Hough Division had been experimenting with a four-wheel-drive, equal-sized-wheel, four-wheel-steer farm tractor that could do everything a dozer could do, only faster and arguably better. Exactly who authorized this program is still a bit of a mystery since it was very unusual for Harvester’s agricultural division to reach across silos to elicit input, much less design and manufacturing services, from another division. There is no doubt that Hough’s foray into the world of farm tractors sprang from the PayMover program. Corporate memos suggest that the work was justified because of the growing demand for high-horsepower farm tractors in the Great Plains and irrigated West. Wagner Tractor Company was now successful with marketing its articulated tractors in central Montana as well as Washington and Oregon wheat country. Wagner proved that rubber-tired tractors could do the work that was traditionally afforded to crawlers faster and with lower fuel consumption, and they were relatively simple to transport on the road under their own power. By 1959, Hough had completed a working prototype called the 4WD-1, which looked very much like the Model T-225 and Model T-245 PayMover tugs with the exception of the cab and hood that were styled more like the 560 Farmalls and also utilized the red-and-white paint scheme of the agricultural line.

A schematic drawing of the 4300's unique hydraulic steering system that allowed front-wheel, four-wheel-oblique, and four-wheel-coordinated steering. Most PayMovers utilized only front- and four-wheel-coordinated steering. Oscar H. Will III Collection

          The 4WD-1 was based on Hough’s successful rigid-frame PayMover design, and the tractor was equipped with front-wheel, four-wheel-coordinated, and four-wheel-oblique (crab) steering. The coordinated steer setting was useful in reducing the tractor’s turning radius, and the oblique steering allowed operators to keep the power on even while farming across slopes, and in this case, no steering brake wear was necessary. Conflicting reports surround the transmission used for this prototype. If it came directly from the PayMover program, it was likely an Allison automatic with a torque converter. Some references suggest that it was equipped with a sliding-gear transmission, which would certainly have required fabrication and tooling to accomplish. In either case, power was fed to a pair of oscillating live axels with planetary gear reduction at the hubs.

After inspecting the 160-horsepower 4WD-1, members of IH’s Tractor Committee concluded that it was a worthy design but that it lacked sufficient power to go head to head with Deere & Co.’s new 8010 prototype, an articulated entry into the wide-open market. The 8010 prototype used a Detroit Diesel engine with 200 horsepower. The Tractor Committee charged the Hough design group to come up with a larger, more powerful tractor that the John Deere, and the designers did that in about nine months.

By 1960, Hough’s 4WD-1 project had evolved into the 4WD-3, which was essentially the production prototype of the 4300. The 4WD-3 weighed about 15 tons and had at least 180 horsepower at the drawbar. The tractor featured Hough FS-100 axels developed for the PayMover program and the relatively new IH DT-817 turbo-diesel engine, which was rated at 300 horsepower. Like the 4WD-1, the 4WD-3 had front-wheel, four-wheel-coordinated and four-wheel-oblique steering settings.

International 4300. This restored 4300 is part of the Mez collection and represents the open-station version of the tractor well. The bidirectional tires were standard, although some operators swapped them for bar lugs. Oscar H. Will III Collection

Find more accounts of farm-machine industry successes, failures, and trails and errors in Red Tractors, Red Combines, and Red 4WD Tractors.
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