For a company that only existed for a few years, Newgren sure got around. Sometimes in the strangest of places. For example, five blank Newgren Company equipment tags showed up in a model airplane kit. Here is the story.
It is corn harvest time in Indiana. There are still large farms around us and we have been sharing county roads with combines. We thought it might be a good time to talk about the role of the Farm Jeep in this important annual endvorer.
With October comes the end of antique machinery shows, at least here in Indiana. We manage to display the Jeep at a couple of shows in September.
Ask Farm Jeep
Earlier this summer we received a note asking if we knew the purpose of the slot on the top of the Jeep’s PTO shield.
A 1953 Willys Motors, Inc Parts list showed up on eBay. It was well used, with greasy fingerprints on the front and back cover and the spine had black tape holding the pages together. Perfect. And it listed the Universal and Farm Jeep as separate models. We have scanned a few pages under the Special Equipment and Accessories section for now. Let us know if you are looking for a particular part or parts and we will make a copy for you.
In addition to part numbers, there are good cut-away illustrations too.53FarmJeepPartsList
Farm Jeep started twenty years ago as a Christmas gift, a domain name that Evan gave to Barry. It has been the gift that keeps on giving, to us and the small group of people who think there is something special about a Jeep with a plow hanging off the back.
Even after twenty years, there is still so much to learn about the extraordinary people and their accomplishments that produced the Farm Jeep in years following the end of WWII. We have focused on the three hydraulic lifts developed and sold through Jeep dealers in the years 1946 to 1948. The story of the fourth and final lift, the Stratton lift, is still unfolding, thanks to a reader who told us how his family’s business had build the lift.
In recent months, some interesting things have happened. Barry had the cover photo and story in the Farm Collector magazine. It was the first time in the publication’s twenty five year history that a Jeep had appeared on the cover. Score one for the Farm Jeep. A few weeks later, Keith Buckley shared some materials with us, including Newgren Service Bulletins. These gave us our first clear evidence of just how quickly the Newgren organization transformed the Love designed lift. There is still plenty of information to be uncovered.
A few weeks after that, Barry was engaged in a Jeep forum exchange and made a statement about the Love lift. He was challenged (gently) and it became clear that he had made a general comment when what was required was a specific statement. The bottom line is that there are two very distinct Jabez Love designed lifts, and far too often we have not differentiated between the two.
That was a wakeup call. We need a reboot. In the publishing world, we would be in need of a revised edition. Given that the site is now twenty years old, that isn’t surprising. Over the next few months we plan to revisit many of our posts and will update, but not replace them. For example, we spent several years trying to figure out the reference to the “push button on the dash” lift control of the earliest Newgren lift that was stated in many ads and stories. Everything we knew pointed to the Newgren lift having its control lever for raising and lowering the implement between the seats. We even went so far as to blame it on a marketing error. Then Dave at eWillys showed us a very early brochure with the control on the dash. This was followed by one of Keith’s Newgren Service Bulletins that documents the change of the control from the dash to between the seats. There is no mystery. We just got it wrong and we need to, and will, correct that story.
We don’t want cover up our mistakes (even the dumb ones) so we won’t rewrite or remove the posts, just mark them to let the reader know that they should be aware of the errors. We are also calling on you to let us know when we have made an error so that we can be as accurate as possible. The aforementioned forum discussion is a great example of how criticism is a positive force.
This won’t be an overnight process. Our plan is to roll out the revised edition over the winter months. We will continue to search for more information and plan to report both the revisions and the new “stuff.” As always, we welcome you thoughts and comments.
Happy 4th of July! We consider this the mid-point of the summer show season. If the second half is as productive as the first, it is going to be a great year.
The Newgren plow gets an upgrade
We visit shows for many reasons, including looking for needed parts, both Jeep and implement related. Most shows include vendors, but we often encounter people who are willing to help us locate needed items. Such was the case with our newly acquired Newgren 16″ plow that was rescued from a Georgia barn.
Last season, Kenneth Miller, an exhibitor at a show, had seen our flyer asking for help. He had hunted through his son’s antique plow collection parts bin to find us possible donor parts, including a share, coulter and land gauge wheel. It wasn’t until winter that we had time to work on the plow. We managed to mount the share, but not the other items. It wasn’t a major problem, since the plow is for display purposes only.
When we arrived at our first antique machinery show this year, Kenneth was there too. He asked why we hadn’t mounted the other parts and we confused to time and more importantly skill issues. Kenneth volunteered to help with both.
The following day, we returned with parts and tools and Kenneth did the same. Together, we were able to quickly mount the coulter. The gauge wheel was more problematic. It would require some engineering work and more critically, some bending of a thick steel bar. Kenneth said not to worry, we have the farmer’s friend, a blacksmith shop, on the grounds.
The next day, Kenneth arrived with the needed mounting parts, including the heavy bar. The members of the blacksmith shop made quick work of the metal bending and were happy to show off their skills. The bar and wheel fit perfectly. Somehow, a simple thank you doesn’t seem enough, but thank you Kenneth.
A Crosley Farm-O-Road Sighting
Another reason to visit shows is that you never know what might show up. We attended a show in Osgood, IN this year. This is the home show of Andy Boyd, who we first met at another show in 2018. Andy had his tribute MB, along with his daughter Emily’s M Farmall at the show.
Also at the show was a Farm-O-Road.
This was the first in person example we have seen. You can read all about it here.
A face made for radio
That is a saying from our all time favorite talk show hosts at Car Talk. And Farm Jeep did make its radio debut, thanks to Kenneth Miller. Kenneth’s son, C.J. Miller was visiting his dad at the same show where we repaired the plow. Kenneth suggested that his son, in his role as a reporter for Hoosier Ag Today, visit our display. You can see and listen to the results here.
May is the our favorite month in Indiana. The weather is getting warm, but not yet hot, and the Jeep and antique farm equipment shows have started. We had a great trip to Aurora, Ohio to attend the Spring Willys Reunion. While there, Keith Buckley gave us three Newgren Parts and Service Bulletins from early May, 1947. These extremely rare documents are providing new insights for us into the operation of Newgren prior to their acquisition by Monroe in 1948; In addition, the bulletins also address problems we encountered with our own Newgren installations. Enjoy
In the summer of 2018, I was at a show with our CJ3a. A visitor told me that I should write an article for the Farm Collector magazine. I had to admit that I wasn’t familiar with the publication, but a quick search at www.farmcollector.com made me think that might be fun. I sent an email to the editor later in the summer, asking if they would be interested in a short article on the Farm Jeep. The editor wrote back, saying they had just accepted an article on the Farm Jeep and it would be published in December.
I was surprised and asked if I could have the name of the author. It wasn’t a name I had come across, so I subscribed to the magazine and waited for the issue with the Jeep story to arrive. When the magazine come, I was shocked. The article contain a number of errors and declared that the Farm Jeep was a short-lived failure.
After my initial outrage, I cooled down enough to realize that we needed to do a better job of telling the Farm Jeep story. The author had every right to tell his version, even if it didn’t agree with the facts. So I set about to right what I saw as a wrong. I started by submitting an article to Farm Collector that was published in April, 2020. That article highlighted the Farm Jeep demo that was part of the annual Willys Jeep Rally and featured our friend John Ittel.
I also realized that much of our research had focused on the early CJs and that we had little information on the CJ5 and the period from its introduction until the end of the era around 1970. That was an important part of the Farm Jeep story and it led to the E&K story about the Stratton Lift.
In the fall of 2021, I submitted another article to the magazine, with the idea of correcting some of the information presented in the 2018 article. My first draft was “too much Jeep” (a few kind words from the editor made me realize this) and I rewrote the article to be more “tractor forward.” It was based on our work on the “Jeep as a light tractor.“
In January, I learned that the article had been accepted and I was asked if I had a photo suitable for the cover. Needless to say, I was thrilled. There had never been a Jeep on the cover of the magazine and I couldn’t think of a better rebuttal to that 2018 story.
So the cover photo is special for many reasons. The first is that it was taken at the Jeep Rally demo that showed Farm Jeeps of all types in action. But this Jeep was a 1963 CJ5 plowing with a Newgren lift and plow from the late 1940s. It was also a way to honor our friend John who had taught us that the Farm Jeep wasn’t just about the CJ2a or CJ3a or even John’s beloved CJ3bs but about the CJ5 too.
The article is available online at www.farmcollector.com/company-history/jeeps-on-farm-zm0z22mayzram/ (you may need a subscription to view it). I believe it is a fair treatment of the subject. My hope is that it provides an alternative to the original story and will bring a new audience to the Farm Jeep. Most importantly I believe it shows the the Jeep has a place as a part of “Vintage Farm Equipment.”
It wasn’t an April Fool’s joke in November 1948 when the above ad was published. More evidence in the same newspaper tells us that the showing did take place. “Premier” normally implies a “first showing.” But was this really the “first showing”? Read on –