Here is some more interesting info, especially if you like toys.
Spec-Cast launched a new era in its toy building in the fall of 2004 when it introduced a resin cast model of the International-Harvester HT-341 Turbine Tractor. What is the IH turbine tractor? For this answer we turn to well known IH author Ken Updike. Ken wrote International Harvester Tractors 1955-1985 and Farmall Cub-Cub Cadet History.
Ken Updike tell us that IH engineers started experimenting with hydrostatic drive tractors in the 1950â€™s. International developed the first hydro static drive tractor using a stock I-340 tractor. The standard gasoline utility tractor had its entire drive train (clutch, transmission, final drives) replaced by a variable displacement hydrostatic pump and two construction final drive motors (one mother for each rear wheel). The HD-340 proved itself in tests and out preformed the gear drive I-340. With one lever the driver of the HD-340 controlled travel speed. Simple operation over a tractors speed would open up a new ease of operation in big jobs like planting, baling and forage harvesting.
After the HD-340 passed the test phase, the engineers at IH took the experiment to a new level. They replaced the IH built gasoline engine from the I-340 with a gas turbine from IHâ€™s SOLAR engine division. After some â€œspace ageâ€ styling to the sheet metal the tractor was ready for its public debuted. The HD with the solar turbine looked futuristic in 1961 compared to the other tractors in the IH line but if you look at the sheet metal it has similar lines and looks to the 88 series introduced in 1982.
IH HT-341 Concept Drawing
Actual 1961 HT-341 On Display
IH brought out the new HT-340 on July 20, 1961 at the 10th annual University of Nebraska Tractor Day. Shortly after the show, the tractor was damaged when the truck transporting the new tractor overturned in Missouri. The HT-340 was returned to IHâ€™s Hindsdale Engineering Center for repairs. Ken Updike belives that it was at this time the tractors model number changed from HT-340 to HT-341. The early pictures of the HT-340 show different emblems and painted in blue. The HT-341 was given a new look with a white/red/silver paint scheme. IH used the HT-341 at a variety of farm shows and dealer open houses through 1962. The tractor was then put into storage and then in 1967 donated to the Smithsonian Institute as part of the 75th Anniversary of the gas powered tractor.
The turbine IH tractor was not a feasible farm tractor although the hydrostatic drive of the HT-341 was. The new hydrostatic transmission was successfully transferred to farm tractors. In June 1967 the IH Farmall Plant began producing the 656 Hydro. Shortly afterward the IH 544 and the industrial 2544 were introduced. (See the April and May 2003 â€œVariationsâ€ Toy Tractor Times articles to learn more about the 544 and 2544 made by Ertl). Other Hydro IHâ€™s followed including the 1026, Hydro 1066, Hydro 100, Hydro 666, Hydro 70, Hydro 86, Hydro 186 and Hydro 3488.
New Spec-Cast HT-340. Notice Wheel Changes Over HT-341
The HT-340/HT-340 tractor lead to a generation of IH tractors that lead the industry. Spec-Cast helped honor IHâ€™s engineering advances in 2003 with the production of the HT-341 tractor. This model is made from plastic resin rather than the traditional die-cast mold. Resin allowed Spec-Cast to produce a nicely detailed model tractor. Producing a die-cast model of such a limited prototype would not be possible. Collectors do not miss out with resin as the model looks as good as any metal tractor on the shelf. Only 1,000 of the 1/16 HT-341â€™s were produced in 2003 and are quickly becoming quite scarce. The HT-341 was packaged in an attractive collectors box detailing the tractors history.
Spec-Cast Prototype of HT-340. The Front Grille On The Production Model Will Have a Bow Tie Badge
In July 2004 Spec-Cast will release the blue HT-340. Many may think oh here come a re-release with a new paint job. That is incorrect. Spec-Cast has several variation changes planed for the HT-340. Cosmetic changes beyond the blue paint include black side badges rather than red found on the HT-341, extended white side panels all the way to the grill, a front bow-tie badge found on the original HT-340 grille rather than the rectangular white IH badge and an added center cylinder on the 3pt hitch not found on the 1/16 HT-341. A few other changes include the wheel rims. The HT-341 model has dished rear rims while the new HT-340 will the have dome rear wheels found on the real model. The HT-340 model will have wheel weight detail added to the front tires. The weights were required because the IH SOLAR turbine engine only weighed 90lbs and with out the weights the tractor would have popped up in the air.
Detailed Operators Platform On Resin HT-340
Spec-Cast will continue its work in the rare tractor area beyond the HT-340 and 341with a new Fuel-Cell tractor. The Allis-Chalmers Fuel-Cell tractor was introduced to the public in 1959. The Fuel-Cell was an electric tractor that had the potential to change the future of tractor power. The fuel cell was developed by the Allis-Chalmers Research Division. The fuel cell was tested in a tractor to test its application in the ag industry. A total of 1,008 fuel cells provide direct current when a mixture of fuel gases and oxygen reacted in an electrolyte. The by-products were no-polluting pure water and carbon dioxide.