Steel Wheels: 1936 Farmall F-12

For the Barn Finds farmers and farm tractor collectors, here’s a 1936 McCormick-Deering Farmall F-12. This good looking tri-wheeler is listed on Hemmings with an asking price of just $2,500! Seemingly a heck of a deal, especially if you’re in the Fredericksburg, Texas area so you don’t have to deal with shipping this one across the country, or world.

I hate to say this yet again, but this is another vehicle that I would have absolutely no use for but I still want it! Especially in this unusual configuration with the 54″ steel wheels on the rear instead of the usual rubber tractor tires. According to some owners of the F-12 with the steel wheels, 4-5 mph is about as fast as you’d want to go, anything above that is a bone-shaking experience. This tractor has a veritable mish-mash of factory wheels. The standard, from what I understand, was having two steel wheels in front but they did make this single rubber tire wheel in front, too, along with a two-wheel wide front end. But, to see it with rubber in the front and steel wheels in the rear is somewhat unusual. Someone took liberties with the white paint when it was “restored” so maybe they changed the front wheel at the same time?

Sadly, as good of a deal that I think this one is, this exact tractor sold a few months ago at a Mecum Auction for $1,000! That, my friends, is how to make money in the flipping business; I mean, the buying-and-reselling business. McCormick-Deering Farmall tractors were made by the International Harvester Company from 1932 to 1938 in Rock Island, Illinois. Here’s a YouTube video of a similar but original F-12 being pulled out of a barn! Now that would be a great find!

By the time that this tractor was made they were using International’s overhead-valve 113 cubic-inch four-cylinder with 12.3 hp at the drawbar and 16.2 hp at the belt. These F-12s had 3 forward gears and 1 reverse gear and they were 2,700 pounds of fairly inexpensive workhorse for the time, at around $800. According to the seller this engine turns over but they “have not had time to get it running.” They say that it would make good lawn or ranch art! NOOO! Would you have a use for a cool tractor like this?

Fast Finds


  1. Don

    Never seen a wight one most are red.

    • geomechs geomechs Member

      Actually they were gray well into the 30s. Red didn’t become universal until almost wartime.

      • Don

        Thanks did not no that.

  2. geomechs geomechs Member

    The local dealer in my hometown had a collection of vintage IH tractors and trucks on a piece of land just off the highway. One of those was a Farmall F-20 that he’d resurrected some years before. One night a drunk drove off the road and plowed into the lineup breaking a W-40 in half and seriously damaging his recently restored F-20. The dealer donated what was left of the F-20 to the local tractor club to be used in the restoration of one they had on the go for a couple of years. Everything turned out for the better in a sense.

  3. TBall

    Sweet ride, thanks for sharing. My first job out of high school was at a farm implement dealer. They gave me an old John Deere B from around that era to restore. If I lived closer and had more garage space, my wife would be mad!

  4. JW454

    The men and women who sat on these for hours everyday to work the crops that fed America and other places, had to be tough as nails. No air conditioned cabs, no power steering, no GPS control just direct sun, insect bites, and sore forearms. My grandfather did it for years.

    • Woodie Man

      yup. Tip of the hat to all those folks.

  5. Dave Wright

    Great old machine……..the tricycle gear scares me to death. Many farmers were killed when they tipped into a furrow or ditch. We were shown films on tractor safety in school where I grew up.

  6. mark

    Getting that running will be easy. They were as simple as simple gets. No water pump (huge radiator and fan) hot water rises and cold water sinks, no battery (magneto and crank starter), no oil pump (splash oil system and you oiled the valves at the start of the day through the valve cover). No fuel pump either (gas tank is above the carb). My Dad had a a 1936 F-20 when I was a kid. It had been converted to all rubber but you still had to crank it to start it. If I remember right Dad said the last year for the F series was 1939. The replacement was the model H.

  7. Chris N

    Love the Lone Star beer can on the exhaust, as it is in Fredericksburg, makes total sense. My grandparents and great grandparents were JD folks. I only snicker because instead of the Lone Star beer can, they always used Folgers Coffee cans. Every time it was started the can would fly in the air and as a kid I always thought that was hilarious.

  8. Ric

    If you travel up I 95 near Richmond VA you MUST stop at Keystone.

    Even if you are not a tractor head you will be amazed at the collection and restorations.

    • Scotty Staff

      Oh boy, I just went right by there a week ago and had no idea it was there! Thanks for the tip, Ric, it looks like a must-see museum!

  9. Jack

    I remember seeing these at the Vermont State Fair in Rutland, Vermont. Listening to those motors run was pretty wild.

  10. Francisco

    As with all vintage tractors, be smart, and be careful; or else you may become a eunich.

  11. Howard A Member
  12. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    Great photo Howard. To those of you not living in the North, this is what is going on inside barns and shops to keep your sanity till Spring planting.

  13. Jay E.

    JW454, you are totally correct about driving one. I have a JD B on steel and a farm to use it on. Until you spend a day in the hot sun actually working one, vs parade time it is hard to appreciate how much DUST, (you can’t breathe going downwind) noise, exhaust fumes, and rough riding hard turning work was demanded. It is better and faster than horse plowing, but I was glad when my day of reliving the past was done.

  14. Dano-40

    Dark Grey was the color on these earliest F12 and F20 models. The iconic red color that became International Harvester started in the mid-1930’s. These old tractors were almost indestructable.This tractor has been modified with the single front rubber tire, it should have come originally with dual front steel wheels on a single post. A wide-front end was an option later in the production run of the F20. The single front wheel was more of an F20 option when rubber tires became the norm. My grandfather and father both owned an F20, and I remember the joys of starting that old beasts on parade days….

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