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Ode to the IH 1420 Combine

Harry Lutz

December 4, 2017

Our 1420 IH Axial Flow combine was manufactured in the East Moline, Illinois International Harvester plant in the fall of 1982. We are proud to say she became a new member of our IH family in November of 2010. Although we never knew her previous owners, she had been well taken care of and did not need much attention before going to the field. After some minor repairs and a fresh service, she was ready to go. She took good care of us, and we took equally good care of her. After a hard day of combining, she was returned to her shed each night and remained housed there when she was not out working in the field. 


Her heart was strong and she showed a willingness to get the job done. She spent many years steadily working. In June of 2016, adjustments were made to get her ready to cut wheat, and out to the field we drove. She led the procession with two grain trucks proudly following. Things went smoothly, and the first grain truck was quickly filled. We were getting close to having the second truck filled, but then the straw started to get tough. We had only to make one more pass in the field, and then our 1420 would be heading back to her shed for the night.


Unexpectedly, it happened. A loud bang rang out into the night, and suddenly she was leaning on her left side and stopped moving. At first we thought she had blown a tire. A closer inspection revealed that the front support axle had broken. It was obvious that our 1420 was through cutting wheat, and possibly forever done harvesting any more crops at all. Her bin was half full and we had to get the rest of the wheat out and loaded into the grain truck, so we began scooping the grain out by hand before heading home for the evening.


The next morning, panic set in as we tried to find someone who could help us harvesting our wheat. Some quick calls were made to neighbors to see if they could help, however, most had yellow wheels and were not finished with their own crops. One last call was made, and yes, someone would be willing to help. Shortly thereafter, a bigger and newer red combine showed up to take over for our 1420. With harvest back under way, we could breathe easier, and a few days later the combining was completed. We could now turn our attention to our lonely1420 that was still sitting in our field.


Our first thought was to pull her onto a trailer and then on to the salvage yard. That seemed to be more of an insult than we could bear to inflict onto our faithful 1420 that had ran with so much heart for us over the past six years. With such a strong and faithful heart as she possessed, we decided we should get her back on her feet. Many neighbors had watched her sitting alone in the field and after one more call, a backhoe arrived along with jacks and some blocking. Together, we stretched a chain across the bottom of the support axle, and my son began welding the repair. Finally, her engine was fired and she was gently eased into gear. At last our 1420 could once again move on her own. Her red paint glinted in the sun like a heart beating its final beats as she began her last drive home. She proudly rolled back into her shed for the very last time. 


We would like to give many thanks to the designers, engineers and field personnel that brought this machine to the market and ultimately to our home. While our 1420 may never harvest again, she was a very good combine who took pride in her job for a very long time. To this day, we continue to look for a replacement 1420 as we drive along the roadways during our travels. If we happen to find one, we will stop to pay our respects and see what it will take to bring her home. Even though we have purchased a newer Axial Flow cousin of hers, we will always have room for another beautiful 1420 red lady.

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