By Peter Simpson
During the late 1960s and in to the early 1970s, many major American tractor manufacturers either merged or ceased trading as the order of the day became the demand for larger and more powerful tractors.
This resulted in several familiar names being relegated to the history books. As the decade closed, far fewer tractor manufacturers remained. Those that did survive were able to utilize decades of tractor building expertise from former companies, thus offering improved and more efficient tractors for the end user.
At this time the tractor manufacturing names of Cockshutt, Oliver, and Minneapolis were slowly disappearing as the White (White Farm Equipment) name was becoming more prominent on these products. By 1974, the silver and charcoal color scheme and livery of the new White Field Boss machines, replaced the familiar red, green and yellow of the former marques.
When the White Farm Equipment company took over, it was able to draw on the Minneapolis Moline and Oliver lines with over 70 years of expertise to produce a wide range of tractors in both 2WD and 4WD configurations. These range from 43 engine horsepower to 210 engine horsepower under the Field Boss name.
The White 4-150, the first 4WD tractor from White Farm Equipment, made best use of components from 2WD machines. Utilizing two 2WD power trains joined front-to-front, pivoted in the middle to give a true 4WD tractor no taller than a 2WD tractor, the 4-150 and following 4WD models were often described as low profile machines.
Many factors on the new 4WD Field Boss machines made them ideal for virtually every type of farming operation. The tight turning circle was less than 16 feet to the center line thanks to the hydrostatic steering.
Ideal for use in row crops was the fitting of sliding hub axles, which meant that tread widths could be adjusted from 60 inch to 108 inch. 1000 rpm PTO, Category 3-point hitch and remote hydraulic valves also meant that the Field Boss was capable of using a very wide range of implements, giving them true versatility.
The more powerful 4-180 followed a year later, and looked virtually identical to its little brother. As the 1970s were drawing to a close, White changed its numbering system to fall in line with other tractor manufacturers. Previously, the number 4-180 denoted drive and power, the 4 denoted 4WD and 180 denoted 180 PTO horsepower. With the new system the 4-180 became the 4-210, 4 still denoted 4WD while 210 denoted 210 horsepower engine.
In 1975 between August 20th and 29th, the “White Field Boss 4-180 Diesel 12–speed”—built by the White Farm Equipment Co. in Charles City, Iowa—underwent testing at the Department of Agricultural Engineering in Nebraska. Test 1184 showed that the 4WD tractor produced max 181.07 PTO horsepower at 2801 rpm and 150.52 horsepower at the drawbar.
In 1979, test 1318 for the “White Field Boss 4-210 Diesel 18-Speed” was undertaken between June 12th and 20th which showed max 182.44 PTO horsepower at 2800 rpm, while drawbar horsepower was recorded at 158.77.
The test results showed that the power increase between the two models was minimal—not surprising as the engine was the same Caterpillar 3208 V8 naturally aspirated diesel engine with 636 cubic inch displacement.
The transmission on the 4-180 was a 12 forward 4 reverse unit. The transmission on the 4-210 was a Hydraul-Shift partial power shift with six forward and two reverse speeds, an over and under power shift for each gear, giving it a total of 18 forward and six reverse speeds.
Toward the end of the 1960s, the Hydraul-Shift was a transmission used on Oliver tractors. Previously, the Hydra-Power Drive was a two-speed transmission which gave a total of 12 forward speeds made into a three-speed unit by incorporating an overdrive, which gave shift on the go with a total of 18 forward speeds.
In 1976, the 2WD Field Boss machines underwent slight styling changes and a new look front grill featuring headlights at the top. The new grill helped identify the updated machines from the previous models with the introduction of the new numbering system on the 4WD tractors.
After facing Chapter 11 bankruptcy, much of the White Motor Company was sold off. In 1980, the division White Farm Equipment was sold to TIC Investment Corporation in Dallas Texas, and under the new banner of WFE, tractor production once again resumed with many new lines.
In 1982, with some new styling and a few other technical changes, two new 4WD tractors emerged: the 4-225 and 4-270. In keeping up with their smaller 2WD cousins, these tractors featured the WFE logo on the front cowl, and a red stripe ran from front to back along the hood, cab door and rear fenders.
The last 4WD tractors to carry the White Field Boss name were the 4-175 and the 4-210. After considerable financial difficulties and restraints, the two new WFE models ceased production in 1988. AGCO purchased White Farm Equipment in 1991. After a period of appraisal and testing, the AgcoStar range of tractors, which used some WFE technology, were released in 1996.
White 4-210 specifications
Engine Caterpillar- 3208 V8
636 cubic inch / 10.4 liter
Naturally aspirated 210 engine horsepower @ 2800 rpm
Transmission- 3x6 Over/Under
6 forward 2 reverse in 3 on the go power ranges
Total- 18 forward, six reverse speeds
Top forward speed 18.3 mph
Category III 3-point hitch
PTO fully independent 1000 rpm
Steering- hydrostatic articulated
Turning radius- 16 feet to center line
Tyres singles- 20.8 x 38 8-ply R-1
Duals 20.8 x 38 8-ply R-1 or R-2
Wheel base- 117 ¾ inches
Length- 244 inches
Height to top of cab- 123 inches
Axle width- 116 inches
Minimum ground clearance under drawbar- 16.7 inches
Approx shipping weight- 22,300 lbs (10,124 kg)
Fuel capacity 94 US gallons