The following excerpt is from Revolutionary Red Tractors, an ideal book for young readers fascinated with machinery as well as for anyone who wants to learn more about the hardworking people and the machines that feed our world! In this excerpt, nine-year old James and his family need a tractor that is powerful yet nimble. Meet Snoopy!
James and his siblings are playing hide and seek on a Sunday afternoon. As his sister, Jennifer, counts to 100, he runs through the different hiding spots in his head. None of them seem tricky enough. But then James remembers the grain bin. They aren’t allowed to go there, so Jennifer will never find him. As he scampers toward the bin, he hears an angry shout. “James! You better not be going where I think you’re going,” his father yells.
James doesn’t understand. He knows every inch of this farm. Why can’t he be trusted to be here too? James’s father kneels and pats James on the back. “Your grandpa tried to unclog a grain bin. He fell in and couldn’t breathe with the kernels crushing his chest. He died in minutes.” James understands now. He’ll be staying away from the grain bin for a long time.
James loves helping his parents on the farm. But today his father is in a bad mood. Their four-wheel-drive tractor does the heavy work, like plowing. But it can’t cultivate. It’s too hard to steer and the tractor’s turns are too wide. James’s dad can’t hook any tools, like a mower, to the back either. The tractor has no power take-off to power the mower and other tools. They need a machine that moves over land like a four-wheel-drive but is nimble enough to cultivate.
IH realized that farmers needed a four-wheel-drive tractor that felt like a two-wheel-drive. They wanted to build a brand-new tractor, but the company was low on cash. They had spent a lot on research and hadn’t been able to sell enough equipment to make up the difference. To save money, they took the back of one tractor and combined it with the back of another.
The two parts were connected by an articulation joint. IH unveiled the 2+2 in 1978. The new tractor handled like a two-wheel-drive but could do the work of a four-wheel-drive. It also came with a rear power take-off.
Unlike many articulated four-wheel drives, the 2+2’s cab was behind the joint. The cab is where the driver sits. This made for a funny-looking tractor with a long nose. The 2+2’s look gave rise to plenty of names. The people at IH called it Snoopy since its long nose matched the comic strip character’s snout. Others said it looked like an anteater. James’s family called it the land shark.
Despite its appearance, James’s dad takes the tractor for a test drive. He’s worried that it will be hard to drive with that long nose, but the 2+2 handles well. Right now, times are tough for James’s family, but they need a new tractor to grow more crops. James’s parents end up buying the 2+2.
Check out Revolutionary Red Tractors for more!