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1946 Farmall M enjoys second life as ‘Farm Rat’

My Favorite Tractor: Ed Tessmer says this restored tractor is used just for fun.

Harlen Persinger

January 31, 2024

2 Min Read
Ed Tessmer stands next to his 1946 model M Farmall Tractor painted black with red accents
DOUBLE SEAT: Besides repainting and adding some catchy phrases on parts of the framework, Ed Tessmer put a wide front on the tractor because the original design wobbled. However, the most notable change was attaching a double seat. Harlen Persinger

After seeing an advertisement in an area newspaper, Ed Tessmer of Hartford, Wis., purchased a 1946 Farmall M for $800 in 2010. The tractor had been used primarily for tillage chores, but when the first owner moved on to another machine, he parked this one in a fence line near Fond du Lac, Wis.

“The tires and gas tank were basically junk, and water had seeped into the transmission,” Tessmer says. “After changing the oil and cleaning up the air filter, it was back to running functionally again. I decided to make some changes and turn it into an amusement tractor, to follow the guidelines of the RAT [Restored Antique Tractors club] philosophy in Hartford.”

Besides repainting and adding some catchy phrases on parts of the framework, Tessmer decided to put a wide front on the tractor because the original design wobbled. However, the most notable change was attaching a double seat.

“Initially, I envisioned a roll bar and cage with a single seat. However, I met a lady friend, and my original plan turned into making it a two-seater,” he says. “It cost around $1,000 to add different tires, repaint and redesign the front end.”

Tractor’s history

This three-plow row crop tractor, a version of the McCormick-Deering W-6, was manufactured under the Farmall brand from 1939 to 1954 in Rock Island, Ill. That plant built 270,140 machines, and the M was available in the MV high-clearance “vegetable version” and the MD diesel.

Features included two-wheel drive, five-speed sliding gear transmission, mechanical steering, mechanical contracting band brakes, lift-all hydraulics, open operator station and 21-gallon fuel tank. There was a test rating of 25 hp on the drawbar and 31 hp on the belt. The tractor weighed 4,858 pounds, had an IH 4.1-liter four-cylinder distillate or liquid-cooled I head or gasoline engine, and succeeded the Farmall F-30.

Known as the “Farm Rat,” Tessmer’s tractor is totally used for fun. It goes to tractor pulls around the state in Ixonia, Burnette, Baraboo and Kewaskum, various threshing events, and fall plowing days around the area. In second gear, the M works flawlessly on a two-bottom, 16-inch plow at 3 mph.

“This is my second favorite tractor, especially how it has been modified since I picked it from that fence line,” Tessmer says. “At the shows, there is quite a bit of chatter about the revamped design and different slogans I added. In the future perhaps someone will provide a fine home for the Farm Rat rather than sending it to the junkyard when I’m gone.”

Persinger writes from Milwaukee. To have your favorite tractor featured, email or send in a photo of yourself with your tractor, along with a 300-word write-up about the tractor, to: [email protected] or Wisconsin Agriculturist, P.O. Box 236, Brandon, WI 53919.

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