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Meet Mighty Little B

My Favorite Tractor: Aaron Gettelman of Ixonia, Wis., bought this 1946 International Farmall B in 1996.

Harlen Persinger

February 13, 2020

2 Min Read
Aaron Gettelman and his wife Patty enjoy riding together on their 1946 Farmall B tractor
2-FOR-1: Aaron Gettelman and his wife, Patty, enjoy riding together on their 1946 Farmall B tractor to check different fields.Harlen Persinger

While doing some service work for a customer in October 1996, Aaron Gettelman could see the gas tank of an old tractor under a nearby lean-to shed.

“It was a 1946 International Model Farmall B. After contacting him, I agreed to purchase it for $875. The owner insisted that I take it for a test run, but that never happened, so he brought it to my place anyway,” Gettelman says. “Once here, the brake came off and it went through the garden and down a nearby hill. After driving it back to the yard, I decided the B was going to be a good purchase. However, I always have to make sure it is parked in gear now.”

The Farmall models A and B are nearly identical tractors. However, the B has a centered engine on the frame, a seat offset to the right and a narrow front end. It was manufactured from 1939 to 1947 by the International Harvester Co. in Chicago. With a total of 75,241 units coming off the assembly line, the original price was set at $770.

Other features on Gettelman’s tractor include manual steering, open operator station, 10-gallon-capacity fuel tank, 4-by-2 2-wheel-drive chassis that weighed 2,400 pounds, two forward and one reverse gear, and an IH 1.9-liter, four-cylinder, liquid-cooled vertical one-head gasoline engine.

This utility tractor is used for pulling a small trailer, operating a 10-foot International drag, putting in 20 acres of corn with a two-row 250 International planter, and drilling a mixture of oats and alfalfa hay with an 8-foot Van Brunt drill.

Gettelman, who is self-employed, specializes in doing IH repairs along with working on electrical systems and hydraulics for customers in a 50-mile radius of his Ixonia, Wis., farm. He notes the tractor has never been overhauled. However, it does leave a small trail of oil because the crankshaft seal leaks.

“I feel this mini-sized tractor is like having a [John Deere] Gator, because it handles so many small chores. The B is such an original and works as good or better as when it came off the showroom floor,” he adds. “My wife, Patty, and I enjoy riding together to check different fields or areas where high water causes problems. I will never part with this prized possession because I have always liked the faded, brown color on the fuel tank. She has more than earned her title as our Mighty Little B.”

Persinger lives in Milwaukee, Wis. 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.

About the Author(s)

Harlen Persinger

Harlen Persinger is a photojournalist who lives in Milwaukee. Since 2004, he has freelanced for regional and national farm publications such as Wisconsin Agriculturist and Farm Industry News, plus many others.

Persinger grew up on a farm in Grundy County, Iowa. He received a degree in ag journalism from Iowa State University in 1972. He has traveled to more than 40 countries and has been a member of the American Agricultural Editors’ Association (now Agricultural Communicators Network) since 1976. In 2016, he was the first photojournalist/freelancer to receive the organization's Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2017, Persinger began providing college scholarships to 4-H’ers from his home county who have an interest in photography/journalism and agriculture. He was inducted into the Iowa 4-H Hall of Fame in 2023.

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