A Case Steam Tractor and the story behind it by Bob Frassinetti
A Case Steam tractor and the story behind it.
Hunting tractors

Argentina and South America, for their strong agricultural feel have always had a great flow of field machines, even from the beginning of most South American countries’ national life in the early 1800s.

Our countryside is similar to a treasure island, meaning there are amazing hidden treasures in steam engine or early 20th century models that are no longer available anywhere else.

We hunt in and around Argentina, Uruguay, Chile and Paraguay for unique steam engine machines, such as old tractors and steam powered mechanical devices.

If you’re one of those collectors who want more out of their passion, and wish to enhance your private collection with unique machines we can find that special item you’re looking for by hunting the fields of Argentina, Uruguay, Chile and Paraguay.

I acknowledge the fact that in Argentina we’ve come to have an extraordinary option of high quality- very reasonable priced vintage and antique objects of all kinds, and tractors as well as steam engines are no strangers to this.

This is a very appealing feature for those who appreciate great antiques. Some of you might have the opportunity of traveling to Argentina and experience it first hand through my customized tour for collectors. However not all of you will be able or are willing to travel that distance for those beloved antiques. But this doesn’t mean you can’t get to enjoy them and profit of the superb and favorable exchange rate: 3 pesos 1 dollar; 4 pesos 1 euro approximately.

Through means of knowing a bit of Argentina’s history with tractors you will know what amazing hidden treasures there are in the argentine field:

In Argentina the first registered tractor importation was in 1906. Case Steam Tractors and International Harvesting were two of the first companies to export these machines to Argentina.

It’s hard to know about quantities, for at first these items were registered under locomotives in customs. Later on they are registered as “motors”, therefore we can’t calculate for sure the amount of tractors that were imported in those days. It is only by mid 1920s that we have statistics on this matter. The information in those documents show that these machines were specially incorporated in big fields, for it wasn’t profitable in small fields.

The mass use of tractors in Argentina only began when those machines were locally produced in the 1950s –without the importation costs, these machines were much more affordable; plus there were local tractor versions that had been specially designed for the standard Argentinean field.

Case Steam was one of the main providers to Argentina of these machines.

According to some of our sources the John Deere company first sold tractors to Argentina that were not manufactured by them, these were called “Big Four” tractors, and had gasoline powered engines. This company might also have sold to our country steam engines that had been manufactured by third parties.

Soon after this invention took off, tractors suffered some alterations, such as the replacement of steam engines for diesel or kerosene ones. Some of the main international manufacturers provided the Argentine market at that time.

But it wasn’t till mid 1940s when Argentina took the auto industry in its hands.

The folk story tells that Peron, who had established a love-hate relationship with the United States had broken up all commercial tides, and while Argentina stopped selling them some of the most important prime materials the US bought, they wouldn’t sell one manufactured item to the country. One of the most famous phrases at that time was “If the US wants to paint their houses with our line oil they’ll have to bring their houses down to Argentina…”the reply of some of the most liberal sectors in our country was –regarding the importance of our importation of toilet paper manufactured in the US- “so, when we want to go to the toilette we might as well travel all the way up to the States for some toilette paper?”.

No house came to Argentina, and no one traveled that much for some toilette paper, but the impact of this closure was huge.

In 1948, Peron inaugurated the IAME –mechanical industry company owned and run by the Argentinean state- with the aim of producing tractors in the country.

A very large group of experts began took over the titanic task of creating from scraps a mechanical industry. The first move this group made was a survey on what local farmers preferred on this matter. The most voted answer was the German Lanz Bulldog, produced in Mannheim, for it had a simple motor that could be easily fixed if there was any trouble, it only needed heating before use, and this could be done using lamps powered by a kerosene pump, hence there was no need of electrical power… Plus this tractor’s motor could be worked with alternative combustibles –at that time Diesel fuels were very expensive and rare to find in the country- such as a mix of kerosene and used oil, or even regular oil and animal fat. It served it purpose in the fields and it was very cheap to maintain. And its power was enough to remove the old steam boilers for thrashing line and wheat machines.

The inspiration came from the Lanz German tractor. Many units of this machine were brought to the country and mechanics and technicians began to work on a “national model” tractor with a two time motor with only one cylinder of 55HP, that could traction a four plowshare of 14 inches.

The result was a local very cheap version christen as the Pampa. There were 3500 Pampas made in the country from 1952 to 1963.

At the same time, some other companies began to settle down in the country to locally produce tractors, for it was economically more profitable than exporting them and there was an unexploded market anxiously demanding these products. Fiat Conrad was one of the first ones to come to Argentina in 1954. Later on came John Deere in 1958. Two of the most important ones at the time, adapting many of their models to the local market as well as offering their standard ones to the Argentine market.

The move was a success back then, and today there are several of these wonderful gems of history and machinery in the South American fields to be discovered by us for you, the collector who wants more.

So if you’re interested in these unique gems of the Tractor industry you can contact us directly for further information and details.

For more information: Email:
admin@frassinetti.com Bob Frassinetti.

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