Gene Mealhow: Using a Vintage Allis Chalmers Tractor and Massey Ferguson Combine in Popcorn

Durable, reliable, versatile AGCO equipment gets the job done.

By Nancy Dorman-Hickson | Photos By Justin Hayworth

“All the farm work, from tillage and weed control to cultivating and the planting process, is done with the Allis Chalmers 185 tractor,” says Gene Mealhow, owner of Tiny But Mighty popcorn.

Gene Mealhow, with the 300 Massey Ferguson combine.

Gene Mealhow, with the 300 Massey Ferguson combine.

He brags on how the older model tractor still “runs great. We keep the oil changed, and we’ve had to fix hydraulic hoses and put on new tires and a muffler, but even in the winter, it starts fine.”

For a time, he had his neighbors do the harvesting. His small acreage, though, was a problem. “No farmer wants to quit harvesting thousands of acres, change his combine over, come to me and do a five-minute pass through a field to harvest,” says Mealhow.

So he borrowed a neighbor’s 300 Massey Ferguson® combine and does the work himself now. “It worked great so I ended up buying it.” Mealhow says his corn is “an heirloom, ancient old seed, and it seems like this ancient heirloom combine does the best job of cleaning it. Because it is a small-capacity combine, it does a more efficient job harvesting the popcorn seed and cleans our smaller seeds better than a larger combine too.

“When I first got it, there were some parts on it that needed updating—bearings and all of that,” Mealhow notes. He called on K & A Farm Equipment, Inc., in Strawberry Point, Iowa. “I asked them if they had parts and they said, ‘We might be able to put our hands on some. We service about three or four of those.’ They did have all the parts: sickle blades, bearings and just little things. They still maintain a wonderful selection of parts for the older equipment.”

Mealhow readies the combine about one month before harvest begins, checking the oil, filters, hoses, bearings, chains and belts. “You don’t want to go to the field and have it break down,” he says.

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