A historical aside: After horses and before things got standardized, each tractor manufacturer had their own hitch arrangement. Some with the alien voodoo technology called hydraulics and others without. Some were symmetrical and some were asymmetrical. A smart fellow named Harry Ferguson made a hitch that was just as likely a contender as the others. Actually Ferguson’s hitch system was pretty good. A lot of people preferred it. I like it.
Ferguson made what has forever been called “the handshake deal” in 1938 with a guy called Henry Ford. Heard of him? Yah, I thought so. That’s why my Ford tractor has a placard on the hood proudly claiming my machine has the excellent and marketable “Ferguson System”. Yay! Ferguson’s hitch system was pretty good. Combined with Ford’s popularity, it crushed the other hitch systems in a way which brings to mind the word “Betamax”. It became the de facto standard for nearly all tractors and has remained so for the better part of a century.
Everything was awesome. Then Henry Ford woke up one day and decided there was no reason to keep paying patent fees. In his steamy little head it was a groovy idea to royally fuck Ferguson over. He was Henry Goddamn Ford! Why not simply be evil? Perhaps you’re thinking this was a misunderstanding? Nope. Ford was something of an asshole. I suppose hosing a business partner is no big deal if you’re a grumpy anti-semitic Nazi sympathizing jackoff.
Litigation ensued but Ford was… well he was Ford. You think he was going to lose? A Ford tractor made a few years after mine has the same hitch system but the placard saying “Ferguson System” no longer exists. This somehow makes it all perfectly cromulent?
The moral of the story is that if a guy like Ford wants to do a “handshake deal”, shoot the bastard. Then shoot his ass again just to make sure. Ford was the Google of his time. If I was writing this blog ten years ago I’d say Ford was Bill Gates. There’s a level of rich and powerful that can turn a simple jerk into a raging monster.
The reason I’m mentioning the whole “handshake” asshattery of seven decades ago is that it still, to this day, affects the sale price of a seventy year old tractor. Totally reasonable tractors of the era such as Allis Chalmers or International Harvester are less useful if they have their original hitch system. The price reflects it. The other brands are either retrofitted to have a standard hitch or they’re relegated to towing but not lifting an implement. Also you’ll never find implements that fit a non-Ferguson setup. They exist but you’ll be entering the realm of collector with the associated price and hassles. (On the other hand, if you have the non-standard implement and the tractor that goes with it, you’re officially excellent. Restore them both and keep the set together. Be warned, collectors might stalk you and try to shove money in your pockets to buy them.)