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Case 4wds 1984-1994
Posted by Case Traction King on 4/13/2007

Thirty Years of Traction King

Part III Case 4wds 1984-1994

by Jason Hasert

Case found tremendous success with its 4wd line in the 1970’s and into the 1980’s. The quest for more horse power and options continued through the 1980’s as Case developed new models to stay competitive. This era in Case 4wd history would be a time of major upheaval in the farm equipment market and lead to several changes in the company.


The late 1970’s and early 1980’s were a time of 4wd horse power wars. The largest field tractors from the main 4wd manufactures ranged from 300 to 350 hp. Companies like Big Bud, Steiger, Versatile and Rome were experimenting with larger models ranging from 600 to 760 hp. Models like the 650 hp Steiger ST-650 Panther Twin and the 600 hp 8wd Versatile 1080 Big Roy toured the major farm shows of the late 1970’s. Case was working on its own mega 4wd in Racine, Wisconsin. Engineers at Case wanted to marry the best features of the large horse power articulated 4wds with the rigid frame Case Traction King.

Case developed plans to build a 6 wheel drive tractor capable of 600 hp. The plan for the monster six wheel drive tractor was to provide farmers with a powerful tractor that could make high speed farming possible. The Case 6wd was a concept tractor J.I. Case began work on in the late 1970's. The goal was a low compaction, high speed, heavy pulling, hydro drive, 400 hp tractor. Case wanted an articulated tractor to introduce in the mid 1980's, to compete with Steiger, John Deere, Versatile, Big Bud, International, Allis-Chalmers, Massey-Ferguson, Ford, and White. The Case engineers came up with the ultimate dream tractor that would have had rear and front articulation points that hinged around the cab that also had the crab steer or independent steer wheels all around. This tractor never came together as a full model, although the drive axles were designed and built. The model number slated for this monster was 5094.


Development of the Case 6wd ended when the farm economy slowed down due to high inflation rates. The 6wd project was not discontinued in vain. The research produced by Case engineers on the 6wd model was used to develop a giant Traction King. The large 400 hp Case 4994 was introduced in 1984.

Case developed the 4994 with a Scania turbocharged V-8 engine rated 400 hp, a 12 speed forward and 3 speed reverse, Twin Disc powershift transmission and four way steering planetary axles.

The big rigid frame tractor ran into problems in early 1984. There was no doubt that the 400 hp tractor could work hard and plow deep but reliability issues arose with the tractors engine, transmission and axles.

For many reasons V-8 engines never seemed to work well in agricultural tractors. Case, John Deere, Steiger, International, Ford, White and Versatile offered V-8 engines in their early 1980’s 4wds. All of these V-8 4wds had engine troubles. Today many of those tractors have been rebuilt with Cummins 6 cylinders engines.

The 4994’s transmission did not offer a skip-shift feature which meant the driver had to start in low gear and shift through one gear at a time to arrive at the desired operating speed. This method of shifting was slow and frustrating.
The planetary axles on the 4994 had problems holding up under constant maximum load conditions. This flaw lead to a recall of all 4994’s.


The 4994 had a short production life from 1984-1988. Just over 200 models were produced and after the 4994 recall, even fewer returned to the field.

Other new Case 4wds were introduced in 1984 along with the 4994. The 94 series models included the 213 hp 4494, 261 hp 4694 and 300 hp 4894. The major cosmetic change for the 94 series 4wds was a new black and white paint scheme. In 1983 new government regulations were put in place regulating paint with lead chromate. Case used lead chromate paint for its power red (orange) paint. To eliminate the lead paint, Case switched from power red paint to black.
Another change for the 94 series tractors was a new roof cap that was placed on the tractors. A major problem with the 90 series was a leaky roof. Case solved this problem on the 94 series by placing a new top over the existing Silent Guardian cab over roof.


Engineering changes for the 94 series included a 24 speed transmission, electronic transmission controls and an intelligence center that grouped the computer controls, monitors and tracking devices in a cluster.

Case was not only focused on the big tractor market with the 4994 and other 94 series 4wds. The 4wd line was joined by a new 163 hp all wheel drive 3294 in 1984. The 3294 offered full time front wheel assist traction. This meant the mechanical front drive did not have to be shifted out or in on the row crop tractor. The 3294 was designed for the farmer that needed 4wd but did not want the price tag or the size of a large 4wd. The 3294 was offered into 1986 when it was replaced by the 163 hp 3394 and 182 hp 3594.

The tough economic conditions of the 1980’s showed in Case 4wd sales. In the past decade Case was a 4wd sales leader and often dominated the market with Steiger and John Deere. The roaring 70’s screeched to a halt by 1984 and the 94 series 4wd sales number show it.

Case 94 Series Production Numbers
Model 3294 Produced from 1984 to 1985 with a total of 1,036 units

Model 4494 Produced from 1984 to 1990 with a total of 947 units

Model 4694 Produced from 1984 to 1988 with a total of 636 units

Model 4894 Produced from 1984 to 1990 with a total of 872 units

Model 4994 Produced from 1984 to 1988 with a total of 224 unit


On November 26, 1984 the course of Case was forever changed. Tenneco to parent company of J.I. Case acquired the agricultural division of International Harvester. The IH ag line included tractors, combines, tillage, seeding, hay, forage and material handling equipment. Overnight, Case was a full line equipment manufacturer.

After the acquisition of International Harvester, Case changed its tractor colors from white and black to Harvester red and black. The Case decal on the 94 series tractors was replaced with a new decal that said Case International on the driver's side door and International Case on the other side. During the transition year of 1985, the Case 94 series tractors that were already built as white and black models were re-painted to IH red. It is not uncommon to see red 1985 models with orange Case 94 series decals.

CaseIH under went another major change of course in 1986. Tenneco purchased the Steiger Corporation of Fargo North Dakota. Steiger, the leading manufacturer of 4wd tractors, fell on hard times just like many tractor makers in the 1980’s. Steiger had the best tractors in the industry, but they had no other products to sell in the lean times to keep the company going.

When CaseIH took over Steiger, the 94 series ridged frame 4wds and the 9100 series articulated Steiger 4wds were sold together at CaseIH dealers in 1986. The 1987 CaseIH 4wd line up included 10 models. The ridged frame 94 series included four models from 213-400 hp. In the articulating 9100 series there were six models from 200-525 hp. In 1988 the 400 hp 4994 and the 261 hp 4694 were dropped from production. The 4494 and 4894 continued to be sold along with the CaseIH 9100 series through 1990.

The sales of Steiger built 4wds far surpassed the Racine built crab steer 4wds by 1990. The long history of 4 way steering 4wds dating back to the Case 1200 ended with the 94 series. The need for 4 way steering was greatly diminished by the end of the 1980's. It was a logical move for CaseIH to end the dual lines of Case and Steiger 4wds. The need for a ridged frame 4 way steer 4wd was not completely gone. Farmers in the steep hillside region of Palouse, Washington liked Case 4wds. To meet the nitch market requiring a ridged frame, CaseIH married the Steiger cab and body to the Case 4 way steer frame.

In late 1990 CaseIH introduced the 9200 series 4wds. The 9230, 9250, 9270 and 9280 4wds continued to use the articulating Steiger design. The new 9240 and 9260 models looked like Steigers but utilized the Case ridged frame design. The 235 hp 9240 replaced the 4494 and the 300 hp 9260 replaced the 4894. The rigid frame Steigers were offered through 1994.

CaseIH offered the 9100 and 9200 series 4wds built at the Fargo, ND plant with Case International or Steiger decals. While the Case International versions are the most common, John Deere and other main line dealers that sold Steiger before the 1986 take over were provided red models bearing the Steiger name rather than Case International. The ridged frame 9240 and 9260 were offered as red Steiger models for these independent dealers.

Beyond the Traction King..............
In 1994 the 9240 and 9260 were retired in favor of a new 9250 row crop. The articulating Row Crop Special (RS) 9250 used a front steerable planetary front axle that provided 18 degrees of front axle steering. The front inside tire on the RS 9250 had to be removed for row crop applications. In 1995 the Steiger Row Crop Special 9350 was introduced and the inside front tire could be left on for row crop work. In 2000 with the introduction of the STX Steiger series the steerable front axle option was retired in favor of a front articulation point ahead of the cab, called Accu-Steer. This feature was available on of the STX275 and STX325 models. Accu-Steer provides the industries tightest 4wd turning radius of 12.4 feet. The new double articulating Steigers models ended the last connection to the Case 4wd. It is interesting to note that the new Accu-Steer models utilized the concept of front and rear articulation developed by Case for the 6wd 5094.

Today farms across North America still use Traction King 4wds. It is not uncommon to still see a Case 2470 or 4690 at work in the dairy regions of Western New York and Wisconsin. The 4890 and 4894 models are still proving their worth in the hillside wheat country of the Pacific North West. Even big models like the 4994 are still used by farmers. The Williams Brothers of Big Sandy, MT started out with a Case 1200 but today the use a 4994 along side their 900 hp Big Bud 16V-747. The Case Traction King will be in the field for years to come.

Did you enjoy this article? Read more like it on tractors from 1960-1990 in Tractor Shop Magazine.






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