1965 Farmall 504

What International Harvester called the “New World of Power” launched them into their first line of six-cylinder tractors in 1958. These were the now-infamous 460 and 560 lines. We have talked about the final drive debacle that put IH into panic mode for a couple of years and giving John Deere the edge it needed to race ahead in tractor sales. In order to beat John Deere to the six-cylinder punch, execs had dismissed the advice of engineers and launched the more powerful tractors with the old M-Series final drives rather than wait for the new drives that were in the engineering pipeline. That proved to be a very big mistake.

The 504 would set the pattern for the IH tractors that would soon follow. It’s not a big tractor but looks like one. The 706 and 806 that came along in ‘63 were bigger and more powerful but had the same broad-shouldered look. Owner Eric Balling has two 150 pound one-piece weights on the rear and 400 pounds of suitcase weights on the rack up front, which is only about 30 percent of the maximum allowable weight.

By 1961, the technical part of the problem had been dealt with by upgrades and recalls, all of which had slowed up future plans. It took IH a long time to recover from the reputational hit but they introduced new models that were ready for action. They started with the introduction of the 404 and 504 for ‘62, both fighting in the lower middleweight class. The 404 was a two-plow tractor that debuted only with a gas engine. The three-plow (plus) 504 turned out to be the hit of that pair. The 504 was the precursor to the new 706 and 806 models that would emerged barely two years hence and set International back onto solid reputational ground. The 504 embodied much of the new technology that would make the 706 and 806 such a success, mainly a stout final drive with a torque amplifier, hydrostatic power steering and a new 3-point system with draft control.

The business end of the Farmall 504 shows off the standard 3-point, which was much more universal than IH’s fast hitch system, swinging drawbar, optional dual remotes and the standard 540 rpm PTO. The upper link is not installed right now.

The 504 came in four variants during it’s ‘61-68 run, the rowcrop Farmall, a Utility with an Industrial variant, and a special high clearance model that came in 1963. The standard power for the 504 was the four-cylinder gasoline C153, a 153 cubic inch that could also be propane fueled. The D188 diesel was the compression ignition option and it was a four-cylinder variant of the D282 six that had been developed in 1958 and used in the 560 and other equipment. All the engines in the 504 line were rated by IH for 45 horsepower. In the Nebraska tests, the gas, and diesel achieved remarkably similar results, being less than one horsepower apart for both the PTO and drawbar ratings. The gasser used three-fourths of a gallon an hour more at full power, however.

The D188 was nothing less than D282 less two holes. It shares many parts with the D282. It was sleeved with three main bearings. Indirect injected using a Roosa-Master pump and used glow plugs for cold starting. It was basically a good engine but like it’s six-lung parent, it was short a few head bolts. When worked hard and hot, it could tend towards blown head gaskets. That was mostly likely to happen when the pump was turned up or a turbo added. Other variants of this engine family include the D301, which was an unsleeved (parent bore) version and the D236, which was a smaller displacement six of the same general design. The D282 remained in production for some applications into the late ‘60s.


The 504 was one of those tractors that over-delivered on the ad hype. It was rated as a three-plow tractor, but unlike many tractors it could handle three bottoms in tough ground and maybe four in easy dirt. It could deliver 40 horses on the drawbar with 2,500 pounds of ballast and almost 39 with no ballast. That’s good for it’s weight class.

By the standards of the day, this was a nice place to work. The control layout was lauded as was the Deluxe seat. The high operator platform became a signature design element for the IH line.

Available options included a wide front axle, adjustable (from 50 to 80 inches) on the rowcrop Farmall and fixed on the industrial. The Deluxe adjustable seat was a popular option. Though it was an option, the Torque Amplifier appeared on most Farmall 504s, as well as power steering. A rear PTO was standard and a belt drive could be added. The hydraulic system was integrated and two sets of remotes could be used. A high speed reverser was on the options list for those using the 504 in loader operations. The reverser was found most often on the Utility or Industrial variants.

If the 504 had a weak link, it was the steering system. Yeah, it was hydrostatic but a really oddball combo of mechanical and hydraulic. They can be really cranky when they get old. This system was soon eclipsed by a better hydrostatic power steering unit.

Production of the 504 started in December of 1961 and ended in February of 1968 with about 21,000 built. The 504 was replaced with the updated and more powerful 544. The 504 was one of the “just right” tractor size many operations needed and it had the right options. On top of that, it proved to be reliable as well, with only the power steering system getting low marks.


1965 Farmall 504

Engine: 4-cylinder diesel, indirect injection, IH D188
Displacement: 188 ci
Bore & Stroke: 3.38 x 4.25 in.

*Rated PTO Power: 46 @ 2200
*Rated Drawbar Power: 40 @ 2200

Compression Ratio:     18.7:1
Transmission: 5-speed with optional TA (5×2)
Weight: 4,400 lbs.
Fuel Capacity: 18.6 gal.

Front: 6.50-16
Rear: 13.9-36

*Fuel Consumption: 3.08 GPH @ full power
*Drawbar Pull: 5501 lbs @ 10.6% slip w/max ballast
*Top Speed: 17.64 mph
* As Rated by Nebraska Tractor Test  816

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