Alan Albright's Memories as an IH Mechanic
Alan P. Albright
September 28, 2020
I grew up on a farm 3 miles W and 8 1/4 N of Clark, South Dakota on a true IH family farm. We used a Farmall H, Farmall Super H, International 460D, International 560G, International 826D gear, International 1086 and a lot of equipment that had the IH logo on it. My Dad was a good mechanic and got me started.
In the fall of 1972, I attended the two year Farm Equipment and Diesel Mechanics program at Lake Area Vo-Tech in Watertown, SD. Due to a shortage of second year students returning, a test was done of all 1st years students. I was #1 with Rick Greenfield of Castlewood, SD being #2. We both were allowed to take both 1st and 2nd years at the same time. So Greenfield and I graduated in the Spring of 1973 in one year from the two year course. Greenfield passed away suddenly due to complications of Diabetes shortly after graduation.
My first job at an IH dealership was in the Spring of 1973 at Erie International in Redfield, SD. My first project was a complete rear end overhaul of a 1256 International. I really enjoyed the people at Erie's but I was a bit restless. I quit and went back to the farm for a awhile.
I then went to work for Mel Schmidt at Schmidt Implement in Willow Lake, SD. This was a true old time dealership building which was hard to heat and was showing it's age. But Mel had a following and was rumored as the largest IH propane tractor dealer in the country. So I got good at fixing propane issues with these tractors. IH also had a recall of the 66 series tractors for differential issues. We had 23 tractors, most with cabs, that required the differential and Hy-Tran be replaced under the recall. This was a huge project but myself and the other mechanic, Ray Pieschke, soon had the project done. The best time was an open station 1066 being completed by the two of us in four hours. It was great being friends with the farmers who owned these tractors and keeping them in the field. But I again got restless and moved on.
I ran my own shop for a couple years, worked as a mechanic for a road construction crew. I was single and didn't have much for responsibilities.
I then got involved in law enforcement and ended up back in Redfield for the next 20 years in the Spink County Sheriff's Office. It was in Redfield that I met my wife Karen Frank. We later were blessed with our only son, Frank Alan Albright. I started non-traditional classes at Northern State University in Aberdeen, SD and in 1999, I received a Bachelors degree in Business. We then moved to Watertown where I worked for the State of South Dakota for another 15 years.
Karen and I are now retired. We help spoil our three grand kids, Jonathan, Olivia and Emma. I got involved in SD Chapter #21 during RPRU2014 and am currently a State Director for the club thru the RPRU2020. The Chinese Covid fiasco caused problems for 2020 but the RPRU went forward. Karen and I have been on bus trips to Red Power in 2018 in Alabama and 2019 in Pennsylvania. Hopefully we can do this again in 2021 to Illinois and in further years.
There are many things in my life that I would change. But the best thing was attending the Diesel program at Lake Area Tech. This Foundation carried on through my life along with the love of International Harvester instilled in me by my father. I still have my families Farmall H and it is still in it's work clothes. I also crank it to start it as that is the way we did it when I grew up. Although fixed, I have not put a battery in it to use the starter. That may change as I get older.
Hopefully International Harvester will continue on in the hearts and minds of the young people. The youth who are now taking the reins from us who actually worked in the dealerships. Being a mechanic, whether it is for a business or for yourself, can be a very rewarding profession. Please help our youth learn to carry on the history of the farms way of life using IH products.
May God Bless my family, International Harvester and our country.
Alan Albright, Watertown, SD September 28th, 2020