Minneapolis Moline Tractors

The buyout of Minneapolis Moline by White Motor Company didn't have a particularly negative effect on MM at first, as the company was allowed to continue operations as a wholly-owned subsidiary of White.

When White Motor Company decided to enter the farm equipment business, they did it with aggressive, concentrated purpose. Cockshutt and Oliver had already been acquired by WFE, (as it was later to become), and then Minneapolis Moline landed in their corporate crosshairs. An offer followed that (apparently) couldn't be refused, and Minneapolis Moline was now part of WFE. While Cockshutt and Oliver had already had equipment lines shut down, and Oliver tractors became Cockshutt tractors, and Cockshutt combines became Oliver combines, Minneapolis Moline was left relatively un-scathed, and allowed to continue producing it's own tractors and equipment. From 1966 to 1968, MM built their Jet Star 3 Super as the Cockshutt 1350, producing 380 tractors this way. Later, in 1971, the MM G950 became the Oliver 1865, and the MM G1050 became the Oliver 2055, and the MM G1350 became the Oliver 2155, and the MM A4T 1400 & A4T 1600 became the Oliver 2455 & 2655. Things looked pretty good for Minnie Mo...

The flipside, however, wasn't as generous and considerate to MM; the Oliver 1555 became the MM G550, the Oliver 1655 became the MM G750, the Oliver 1755 became the MM G850, and the Oliver 1855 became the MM G940; as the big tractor market didn't have the production numbers of the smaller tractor market, more Olivers were being produced as Molines than Molines as Olivers.

While MM personnel breathed Praire Gold, now more of their tractors started out as green... and leaving MM Oliver green with envy, and Cockshutt red with embarrassment.

Then things turned ugly for Moline...

WFE, deciding that the Oliver transmission, rear end, three point hitch, and, most notably, the Over/Under Hydraul Shift, was a better--or more practical--setup than the MM rear end and Ampli-Torque power shift, elected to build their new flagship tractors with MM engines and front axles, but backed up with the Oliver rear end and Over/Under. These models became the 97 PTO HP White 1870 and MM G955, and the 137 (later 142) PTO HP White 2270 and MM (and Oliver) G1355. No doubt some noses were a little out of joint both at MM AND Oliver, as none of either company's tractors were--obviously--considered good enough by White to solely bear the White name only, as it was first applied to a farm tractor on it's own. White now was a tractor MAKE, not just the owner of tractor companies.

Obviously, with the inauguration of WHITE as a tractor make, some major change was in the wind...

Olivers--including their Fiat-built utility tractors--made up all tractor production up to 86 PTO HP, and shared the 97/98 PTO HP slot with the Moline/Oliver White 1870 hybrid, but the over-100 HP slot was handed over the popular 108 PTO HP pure Oliver 1955, and the 137/142 PTO HP Moline/Oliver White 2270 hybrid; there were no more pure Minneapolis Moline tractors; their heyday had ended, and their sunset was nigh...

A very brief respite was given MM in 1975 when White chose to restyle the 2270 MM/Oliver hybrid into the 145 PTO HP White 2-150. This lasted only a short white, and the 145 PTO HP Oliver 2255 was selected to replace it, as the restyled White 2-180; the last vestige of Minneapolis Moline tractor technology and production had disappeared for all time from the farmscape.

Ironically and hypocritically, while in 1971 there were red, white, and blue 'Heritage' versions of Oliver, Cockshutt, and MM tractors, now White was liberally slaughtering all of the makes without which White Farm Equipment themselves would never have come into existance.

Time capsule:

The Minneapolis Moline G350 & G450

Earlier, in 1971, both Oliver and Moline suffered a mild embarrassment when WFE, continuing in the utility import tradition that Cockshutt had started long before, imported the Fiat 450/480 and 600/640 to become the Oliver 1265, MM G350, White 1270, and the Oliver 1365, MM G450, and White 1370, respectively; WFE evidently didn't think ANY of their umbrella of companies had a modern, economical enough tractor--or even PART of one--to bear ANY of their names! MM had it's U302 and Jet Star 3 Super, and Oliver had it's 550, which actually was a more viable utility tractor than the Molines, given it's lower slung, lower center of gravity design, but still lagging behind the times in technology.

Enter the Italian-born, Fiat-built, Minneapolis Moline G350 and G450...

The Minneapolis Moline G350

The Fiat 480, becoming the Minneapolis Moline G350 for 1971 only, was rated at 43 PTO horsepower. This came from a 3 cylinder, 4 main bearing, direct injection, 17:1 compression ratio engine of 158 cubic inch displacement. Full flow lubrication, with a spin-on, disposable filter, was featured in this engine, along with a CAV fuel filtration and injection system. A thermostarter starting aid made the 480 an excellent choice as a chore tractor, as it's high compression Diesel engine would start in conditions that would give gasoline engines difficulty.

Cooling was provided by a large radiator and high volume water pump, in a system pressurized at 4PSI by a radiator cap calibrated for that rating. The conventional, automotive style thermostat was calibrated to open at 179 degrees Fahrenheit.

In front of the radiator was an updated style of oil bath air cleaner; it included a cyclonic precleaner, which flung the heaviest particles of dirt to the outside, transparent area of the precleaner by centrifugal force. From there, it could be disposed of by an 'automatic' dust unloader 'valve', which was merely a rubber sock with a split bottom, that remained closed until squeezed, much like a change purse. Thus equipped, the oil in the main air cleaner cup only needed changing once a year, or when the sediment level in the cup reached 1 CM (approx. 1.3 inches) in depth.

At the opposite end of the engine, a heavy, 10 inch dual clutch unit was firmly secured to the crankshaft flange by 6 bolts. This unit, built by LUK, provided the MM G350 with a live PTO, controlled by a two stage foot clutch. Backing up this hefty clutch unit was a 6 speed forward, 2 speed reverse, partially synchronized, straight cut gear transmission, controlled by a single, centrally located shifter, having two ranges. Locking in each gear was automatic, and disengaging any certain gear required 'rocking' or tilting, the shifter to the left, then shifting out of the previously chosen gear.

Behind the transmission, was a lockable differential, controlled by a foot pedal at the operator's right heel. It was also the second reduction in the system, at 3.917:1. Disengagement was automatic, or could be accomplished manually by a quick stab at either brake pedal. Speaking of brakes, braking was provided by self-energizing, 50MM, contracting bands and internal drums on the 'axle' shafts off of the differential. A ratcheting hand operated parking brake was also standard equipment. The two foot pedals were independently appliable, but also lockable for road travel.

An optional creeper drive unit was available for behind the main transmission. This increased the available gear selections from 6 forward, 2 reverse, to 9 forward, 3 reverse, and a very deep first gear of 0.48MPH in the (new) first gear. This addition made for an excellent transplanter tractor, among other slow speed applications.

Off the ends of the 'axles' were the deep final drive units. A standard ratio of 5.636:1 was featured in the final drives.

A depth and position control 3 point hitch was standard equipment, and featured top link draft sensing. Cat I and II implements could be accommodated simply by reversing the lower links. A handy top link retention strap on the back of the seat suspension solved the common and often annoying problem of what to do with the top link when it wasn't in use. At that time, it was held snugly in place by the retention strap, and, being right behind the seat, on the centerline of the tractor, didn't interfere with the operator. Many simple, thoughtful additions like this were found throughout the tractor, for convenience and easy service.

On the subject of thoughtful additions and easy service, the hood hinged up for easy access to the engine. Once unlatched by the 2 over-center clamping chrome handles on the right side panel, the prop rod for the hood automatically snapped into place, so the hood could be opened with one hand. When closed and latched, the hood was held down snugly against rubber bumpers for rattle-free operation. Similarly cushioned, the grille required no tools for removal for quick access to the air cleaner and precleaner, and batteries.

Under the front end, a round tube, telescoping front axle, allowed row spacing from 51 inches to 78 inches, in 8 positions. Spacing at the rear ranged from 52 inches to 75 inches. Both front and rear settings involved flipping the wheels for 'dished in' or 'dished out' settings.

The G350 was also available in a four wheel drive version, based on the Fiat 480DT, "DT" standing for Dual Traction. Less adjustability was provided in the front end, at 55 inches and 59 inches only. Front wheel and tire equipment on the G350 4WD was 8.3x24. Rear wheel and tire equipment on either tractor was 14.9x28.

Electrical equipment on the G350 consisted of a 33 amp alternator with external regulator, a 2.5KW starter, two large 6 volt batteries (connected in series for 12 volts), 2 headlights, rear worklight, flashing warning lights, and full instrumentation. A combination tachometer and hourmeter and combination fuel gage and temperature gage, with a warning light for alternator performance, and a warning light for low oil pressure made up the monitoring system, in a neat, tidy package in a housing behind and above the fuel tank, and underneath the upper half of the steering wheel, in plain view of the operator.

Options on the G350 consisted of underslung exhaust, power adjust rear wheels, and the aforementioned creeper drive auxiliary transmission.

The MM G350 was the same tractor as the Oliver 1265, Cockshutt 1265, and the later White 1270

The Minneapolis Moline G450

Adding one cylinder to the G350's three, was the 1971 Minneapolis Moline G450. Engine design wasn't exactly the same, however, as the G450 also benefited from the addition of a vibration damper assembly, slung underneath the crankshaft. It was gear driven, and had two counter-rotating rotors in a sturdy case, much like a gear driven supercharger, only the sole purpose of this assembly was for absorbing, or counteracting, vibrations in the engine. It was geared to run at twice the speed of the crankshaft. The 211 cubic inches of this direct injection engine came from a bore of 3.93 inches and a stroke of 4.33 inches. Compression ratio was 17:1.

The G450's Dynamic Engine Balancer

A maximum of 59 PTO HP was developed at the rated engine speed of 2400 RPM. Like the G350's smaller powerplant, the engine in the G450 was a cross-flow style; that is, the air intake manifold--and injectors--were on one side of the engine, and the exhaust manifold was on the other. This arrangement made for an engine that 'breathed' well. A CAV filtration and Diesel injection system was part of the G450 powerplant package

Also part of the standard engine package was a thermostarter system, aiding cold starts. This ingeniously simple system featured a combination glow plug and fuel valve threaded into the intake manifold. Fed from the fuel return line off of the injectors, the small thermostart reservoir held enough fuel for a cold start. Turning the starter switch clockwise to the first position activated the heating element of the thermostart plug; the heat thus generated by the energized element un-seated the ball valve (which otherwise kept the fuel shut off) above it, letting a small charge of fuel from the reservoir trickle into the intake manifold. The heat from the coil then ignited this fuel within the intake manifold, thus heating the air within it. Turning the starter switch the rest of the way then activated the starter, thus drawing this heated air into the engine, allowing it to start. Releasing the spring loaded starter switch then turned off current to the heating element. Cool air rushing in through the intake manifold, and thus over and past the thermostart plug, would reseat the ball valve within it, thus halting fuel flow. The reservoir would then be re-filled by the return fuel line, and remained ready for the next time it was required. Far more eloquent was this system in operation than it has been described here.

The G350 & G450's Thermostarter System

A big, 11 inch double clutch handled the power and torque from the G450's responsive, fuel efficient engine. It was fed into a somewhat similar--but still much different in operation--transmission from the G350; The G450 had a 2 stick, 8 speed forward, 2 speed reverse, straight cut gear, partially synchronized transmission. 8th to 7th, and 4th to 3rd gears were synchronized in the G450. High and low ranges were selected by the right side lever, as opposed to gear selections AND high and low ranges, being selected by the single lever in the G350's unit. Also featured in the G450 package was an independent PTO, controlled by it's own hand clutch, located under the dash on the extreme left hand side of the transmission, as opposed to the two stage clutch in the G350.

A locking differential gave second reduction to the rear wheels. It's ratio was 3.357:1. Off of the 'axle' shafts from the diff', were the brakes. While the same basic, self-energizing, contracting band/internal drum system as the G350 was used, in the G450 the width of the drums and bands was increased to 56MM, providing 12% greater braking ability in the G450.

As in the G350, outboard final drives were featured in the G450, and were the same style, only slightly heavier duty in construction. The same 5.636:1 final reduction ratio was featured in both tractors.

A slightly different, beefier front axle was featured in the 2WD G450; it had the cross section of an inverted 'U', but still shared the same 8 position, telescoping adjustment as the round tube style in the G350. Owing to it's open, inverted 'U' style, the G450's axle was less likely to seize together than the G350's 360 degree contact area round tubing. Front tires on the 2WD G450 were 7.50x16, and rears were 16.9x30, notably larger than the 14.9x28's on the G350. G450 4WD wheel and tire equipment differed.

Detail showing difference between round tube and inverted 'U' front axles
(Oliver tractor shown)

Styling and conveniences in both tractors was the same, the G450 only having a slightly longer hood and side panels due to it's 4 cylinder engine length.

Also due to the 4 cylinder engine of the G450, a heavier duty 3.5KW starter took the place of the lighter, 2.5KW unit in the G350. All other electrical and instrumentation equipment was the same in both tractors.

The MM G450 was the same tractor as the Oliver 1365, Cockshutt 1365, and the later White 1370

After 1971, there were no further utility tractors available from Minneapolis Moline.

Parts for Minneapolis Moline G350 & G450 Tractors