A little tender, loving care keeps American dream machine alive

Angus Paterson fell for the Farmall 966 the moment he saw one at a vintage machinery sale. “There’s something awesome about the shape,” says the former farmer from Rushall, Norfolk.

“You”ll only find a handful on this side of the Atlantic, so I decided that with such exclusivity, I had to own one and get it out of my system.”

That was early last year, and the example he saw fall under the hammer fetched around 7000 – much more than he wanted to pay.

“It was a very clean example, but just too pricey, so I carried on searching.” He eventually found a 1974 model fitted with a European-spec cab at Cheffins vintage machinery sale – its more agreeable price reflecting its condition.

One of more than 40 machines in Mr Paterson”s collection of post-War International and Farmall tractors, the 966 is his most modern piece of agricultural memorabilia.

The 6250-hour example, although relatively tidy and mechanically sound, lacked some of the original features it would have had when it left the factory.

“The original twin 6v batteries that sit astride the bell housing have been replaced by a single, heavy-duty 12v battery to ensure she starts in the winter,” he says. “It was bodged in place on a home-made bracket long before I bought the tractor, so I’d like to put it back to how it should be.”

Other elements marked for potential restoration include the rear axle clamps that hold the wheel centres onto the half shafts – one is original and corroded away but not yet loose, and the other has been temporarily repaired and is still in place.

“The tractor is 30 years old, so is entitled to look a bit frayed around the edges, but it would be a shame to carry out a full restoration while it is 98% original,” he says. “It wouldn”t do her justice to change too much – she’s authentic.”

Fitted with a 6.7-litre (414cu in) six-cylinder diesel engine producing 95hp at 2400rpm, the two-wheel drive tractor was produced between 1971 and 1975. The model was also available with a turbocharger, which saw the more powerful model changed to 1066 designation.

A single plate 20cm (8in) dry clutch transmits power through to a four-speed twin range mechanical gearbox offering 8F/2R speeds. Some examples were equipped with the firm”s torque amplifier splitter, effectively doubling ratios to 16F/4R, and a hydrostatic version was also produced.

High clearance versions and models with front-wheel assist were also produced, but Mr Paterson is pleased to have found a relatively standard 966. “It would look better without the cab,” he says.

“The bonnet has nice clean lines – it looks built for business.”

Indeed, a glance round the chassis reveals that the 966 was engineered using traditional US manufacturing processes – throw more metal at it to make it stronger. The 966 tips the scales at around 6t, which is hefty for a 100hp tractor by today’s standards.

At the rear, farmers were treated to dual pto shafts for 540rpm and 1000rpm use, plus a three-point linkage with lower link sensing. “I’ve used her on a set of disc harrows and she coped quite well,” he says. “But now she’s mostly used to pull bale trailers, delivering hay to equestrian outlets.”