1965 FARMALL 806 FWA
Hugh Forbes’ ’65 806 FWA is about the same physical size as the higher-horsepower 1206 to its left, but its burly stance gives it the impression of more power. Even though the 1206 was rated with almost 20 more horsepower, it’s likely the 806 with FWA could give the 1206 a run for its money out in the field because it can put more of its power to the ground. Regrettably, the FWA 806 was not Nebraska tested, so we have a limited objective picture of how it compares on paper to the rear-drive units. Typically they can deliver more drawbar horsepower at the same weight with less wheel slippage. Fuel economy is another strong point because less tire slippage equals better economy. Drawbar pull is typically much higher at the same weight. The differences become acute when the ground surface deteriorates.
When it debuted for 1963, the Farmall 806 was one of International Harvester’s high points. The company was still punchy from the disastrous introduction of the 560 models and their host of technical issues. The all-new 06 Series put that debacle to bed once and for all. The 06 models were a genuine triumph for IH and the new 806 led the charge.
Putting out nearly 95 PTO horsepower, the 806 was the IH powerhouse tractor for several years and at the top tier for rowcrop tractors. Power come from an all-new diesel, the D361. The 806 was offered as a Farmall rowcrop model or a Wheatland style or industrial. It could be delivered with a wide front, or a narrow. AND it could have a driving front axle. IH called it Front Wheel Assist (FWA), and it’s still known commonly by that term today. This wasn’t IH’S first rodeo with FWA, however.
Through the ’50s, FWA was offered by aftermarket companies and you could see it installed
onto tractors of any color. Elwood Equipment Company, of Elwood, Illinois, had been doing that since 1947 using military surplus GMC truck axles. When IH introduced its new line of tractors for 1959, Elwood had attracted enough good attention that, after tests, it was validated as an Ih-approved, dealer-installed accessory. It proved to be a great accessory for the farmers who needed it.
When the new generation debuted, IH retained the FWA option but used a different supplier. This time, they went with American Coleman of Littleton, Colorado. Coleman had been in business since the 1920s building large all-wheel-drive trucks. That market was wide open when they started, but by the time World War II was over they were reduced to being a small fish in a very large pond. Coleman adapted into building and selling conversion kits for trucks, light trucks on up to the biggest there were. As it happened, they were dealing with IH, selling kits for IH medium and heavy trucks. It isn’t clear why IH pushed Elwood aside in favor of Coleman since IH had made no public complaints about Elwood. It could have been that Coleman was a larger company and a working relationship was well established, or it could have been cost. Elwood continued selling kits to dealers and individual tractor owners of all makes, even for IH 06 model tractors.
In back, it’s a typical 806. The Farmalls usually came equipped with a drawbar, three-point hitch and PTO. This one is sans the upper link but has dual hydraulic remotes. The standard or Wheatland version, marked on the hood sides with “International” rather than “Farmall,” usually were fixed tread and may or may not have the 3-point or PTO.