The 560

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					                       The International Harvester 560
                               First of the modern tractors

“The world’s most powerful row-crop tractor!” That was the title applied to the Farmall
560 introduced by International Harvester in July of 1958. Weighing in at about 10,000
pounds, it was presented to 12,000 IH dealers from the U.S., Canada and 25 foreign
countries at a “New World of Power” extravaganza at Hinsdale, Illinois. The big show
covered 65 acres, befitting the largest farm tractor manufacturer in the world, and
highlighted the 460 and 560 models in Farmall and International versions. An answer to
the race for increased horsepower that had begun in the early 1950’s, the 560 set
standards in so many areas that one could arguably call it the first of the modern
tractors. From its square, aggressively-styled front end to lines that made it look longer
than it really was, the 560 and its companion 460 were clearly a new breed.

First and foremost, of course, was power, and lots of it, coming from a 6-cylinder
powerplant, the first to be introduced in a general-purpose tractor. International
Harvester found the answer to its power needs in its current product line – both the
gasoline and diesel versions of the 560 were adapted from the TD-9 crawler tractor 6-
cylinder diesel engine. The diesel engine boasted a displacement of 282-ci while the
gasoline and LPG versions displaced 263-ci. Nebraska Tractor Test results credited the
560 diesel with 62 belt horsepower, and the gasoline version with 65 horses. Both
gasoline and diesel engines had forged camshafts supported by four replaceable
bearings, and cylinders that were the replaceable dry type. Inherently balanced for
vibration-free power, the smooth 6-cylinder sound and feel was an immediate indication
that tractors had entered a new era. After thousands of hours spent on earlier model
Farmalls, the author can still recall how dramatic the smooth response of the 560 diesel
seemed in comparison.

Farmers were, of course, more interested in what this new level of power translated to in
terms of work done in a day. The 560 could turn over 30 acres a day with a 5-bottom
plow, or cover 100 acres a day with a 6-row cultivator. Other jobs were handled with
equal ease and speed. The 560 diesel version was also notable for its excellent fuel
economy. With a 33-gallon fuel tank, it could easily operate for a day without requiring
refueling. The diesel engine produced 14.46 horsepower-hours per gallon of fuel
compared to 12.20 for the gasoline version. One farmer calculated diesel fuel costs of 19
cents per acre pulling a 6-row planter. This economy made the diesel version by far the
most popular of the engine choices.

The 560 had numerous styling and mechanical advancements from previous models to
accompany its increased power. The steering shaft was moved from the position atop
the engine to run along the left side of the engine, making a cleaner profile and changing
the steering wheel angle to more closely resemble an automobile. Batteries were moved
from beneath the driver to a location under a hood panel and the hydraulic pump was
internally mounted. The diesel starting system was changed from the gasoline-start
design of earlier versions that had to be switched to true diesel operation after a warm-
up period. Instead, a direct-start approach was used, each combustion chamber being
pre-heated with a glow plug, simplifying the design and reducing the start-up time. A
heat exchanger between engine oil and engine coolant reduced crankcase oil
temperatures to extend engine life. The 560 also utilized the transmission and differential
case as the reservoir for hydraulic fluid. To accomplish this, a special IH Hy-Tran Fluid
was developed that could meet the varying needs of lubrication and hydraulic operation.
An improved independent power take-off utilized a new multiple-disk clutch drive.

Operationally, the 560 combined proven features from previous models with additional
new designs. The Torque Amplifier and 2-point Traction-Controlled Fast-Hitch were
retained, while the new Hydra-Touch hydraulic system introduced what was called Tel-
A-Depth, with follow-up-linkage for positive implement control. Convenient hand-
operated levers were also added just below the instrument panel to allow switching
between single and double action hydraulics. If a piece of equipment with double-action
cylinders were connected, the valve could quickly be turned to accommodate it.

Operator comfort and convenience had been addressed in several ways. Power
steering, built in instead of added on, as many of its competitors were, was touted as
“shimmy-proof” and transmitted a solid feel of quality to the operator that was especially
well received. A deluxe upholstered seat featured a backrest and dual torsion spring
suspension. The full instrument panel included an oil pressure and charge indicator,
combined tachometer/hour meter, heat indicator and fuel gauge. Diesel models also
included a special glow plug meter. The Hydra-Touch controls were conveniently
clustered just to the right of the instrument panel, allowing multiple levers to be moved
simultaneously. The throttle control was located just below the steering wheel, allowing
the operator to change engine speed while still holding the wheel.

With all that the advancements built into the 560, one would expect it to have been a
runaway success for International Harvester, but it was not meant to be. While it was in
fact one of the biggest selling and most popular tractors of its time, it had design
problems that were to both taint its reputation and contribute to the decline of
International Harvester as a company.

To understand the significance of the 560, a little historical perspective is helpful. In the
mid-50’s, International Harvester, once dominant, was locked in a tight battle with John
Deere for the lead in farm equipment sales. As part of its plan to regain its dominance,
Harvester in 1956 rushed into construction a new research and engineering center in
Hinsdale, Illinois. The first series of products that resulted from this effort included the
560. In its haste to produce the new high-powered model, inadequate attention was paid
to the engineering of the final drive - the chassis and transmission of the 560 was largely
based on the lower-powered M model.

Soon, reports of final drive failure begin to come in from the field, many occurring in the
first 50 to100 hours of operation. The combined transmission/differential case and
hydraulic fluid reservoir may have contributed to some of the final drive failures.
Hydraulic fluid loss was common from hose couplings and cylinders, increasing the
potential for reduced lubrication in the already under-designed final drive, unless the
operator was diligent in maintaining the proper fluid level. As failure reports grew from a
trickle to a flood, Harvester worked feverishly to find a solution. It wasn’t until January of
1959 that the first modification was announced to the field, but it proved ineffective in
halting the failures. More field modifications followed in March and April but they too
failed to solve the problem.

Finally, in June of 1959, Harvester announced a wholesale parts change that constituted
almost a complete revision of the rear axle and differential unit. A $19 million field
modification campaign was launched to incorporate the changes. The number of tractors
needing modification overwhelmed IH dealerships, requiring separate regional “tent
cities” to be set up. The combination of the original problem and the publicity of the
rework campaign resulted in the defection of a large number of farmers to John Deere.
1958 turned out to be the year that Deere passed International Harvester in farm
equipment sales. A quick look at 560 production numbers tells the story. Over 22,000
560s were built in 1959, but less than 6,000 in 1960. Although 560 production averaged
around 10,000 for each year from 1961-1963, John Deere introduced their “New
Generation” tractors in 1960, a new line including 6 cylinder models that attracted many
buyers who might have purchased IH tractors with an untainted reputation.

Many 560 operators experienced no final drive failures, were pleased that Harvester
addressed the problem aggressively (if somewhat belatedly) and found the tractor to be
a reliable workhorse for many years. Some features such as the IPTO clutch required
upgrading during the 560’s life span, but in comparison to the final drive problem, the
tractor was relatively trouble-free. In 1962 Harvester released a dealer-installed turbo
option from its TD-9 crawler, in an attempt to overcome the horsepower advantage of
the new John Deere 4010. 560 production ceased in 1963, giving way to the 706/806
series, designed to go head-to-head with the Deere “New Generation” series. A total of
nearly 60,000 560 tractors were produced, a large percentage of which still find use

Given the overall reliability of the 560 and its relative freedom from serious problems
other than the final drive, buyers or collectors wanting to buy a 560 for use or restoration
should apply the normal tests of tires, wheels, steering, engine, electrical,
clutch/transmission and hydraulics. Although many 560s are still operating which never
received the final drive modification, one should probably avoid an unmodified tractor if it
is intended to do heavy work. Units employing the upgraded parts are distinguished by a
“delta” or triangle punched in the ID plate following the serial number. The 560 is a good
candidate for collectors, since it is relatively cheap, easy to find and still has good parts

While 6-cylinder diesel tractors are commonplace on farms today, those who witnessed
the introduction of the 560 knew they were hearing the sound of the future. The 560 set
new standards in many areas and is still mentioned with loyalty and fondness by a host
of farmers who found how much more work could be done in a day by this reliable
machine. It will not be forgotten.

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