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Last year when I was a member of the Yahoo Case forum, the promoter of the Rockford Colt/Case/Ingersoll tractor Show announced that top management from Eastman was going to attend. Upon reading that post, I replied by saying that their participation would be a farce. That stance did not sit well with many of the members of the Yahoo group but once the show was over and the dust settled, I was proven to be right.

Anyone who attended that Show knows this to be true. The presence of Eastman was practically non-existent in comparison to the level of hype uttered prior to the Show taking place. In truth, it gave me no pleasure to be found right because it just made me even more disappointed in Eastman. It was similar to being a long-time Yankee’s fan and knowing in your heart that they would lose the game you just paid money to attend. You are cheering your guts out for them but as inning after inning passes into history, the hits are few, the runs even fewer and the errors continue to mount.

For some totally inexplicable reason, Eastman paid a company to design a new website to replace the existing one. When it was first released, I was dumbfounded and so were many other enthusiasts. I was highly critical; not only about what was done but also about what was not done. Others said that I wasn’t being fair and I needed to give them a chance to install all the missing information that any decent manufacturer’s site should have. As the months rolled by, not a single change took place. Today, the site is still the same piece of useless garbage it was nearly one year ago. The irony here is that the old site that they scrapped was ten times better than the replacement. Eastman took one baby step forward and 20 giant steps backward while spending money to do so.

In recent months, we learned that Eastman no longer had any inventory of the “wings” used to widen the snow blowers by 4 inches nor are there any plans to make them. Recently we found out that gaskets for the headlamps are now obsolete and we have a fresh thread talking about the famous “banana plate” for the 600 Series tractors being NLA (no longer available). Under law, a manufacturer is obligated to produce replacement parts for a minimum of six years after the date the item was manufactured. When the OPE (outdoor power equipment) division was under the control of Case, parts were not a problem for any model they made.

When Jack Ingersoll ran the show, parts were still not a problem and even when the Rothenberger Group took over, I don’t recall hearing about a shortage of parts. In all fairness to Eastman, the problems allegedly began during the Rothenberger era on many fronts. They changed they way the division was run and parts that used to be made “in-house” were farmed out to machine shops in nearby towns and cities. The tooling needed to make those parts was loaned to these shops for that purpose. However, when Rothenberger’s allegedly fell further and further behind in paying their bills, production stopped in those independent machine shops and the tooling was apparently held for ransom.

When Eastman took over the failed company, one would think that the existing employees at Winneconne told senior management of these problems. Perhaps it was too little, too late and the tooling got sold for scrap years earlier. Perhaps Eastman made a decision to not recover that tooling because the outstanding invoices were far too high and they were certainly not under any legal obligation to settle those old accounts. At this point, it is all speculation other than the fact that the main source for new replacement parts is now drying up more and more. I think that the time has come for everyone to come to grips with this issue. There is no way that I would suggest Eastman is in financial difficulty. But….factually speaking, Eastman is a small player when you compare them to Deere, MTD, AYP, Murray and some others out there. Add into that reality, the current state of the US economy that is struggling to pull itself out of a recession.

On one hand, Eastman disappoints me. On the other hand, I have empathy and understanding for their predicament. I believe that many parts that are currently sitting in Eastman’s various warehouses will not be replaced once existing inventory is depleted unless it is still a current part number. It would not surprise me to see a total recall of all “obsolete inventory” with a view to placing it in a single warehouse facility. And if it shrinks to a certain level, I visualize it being sold off for pennies on the dollar because the annual sales do not justify the overhead to hang onto it.

Adding to that problem is the proliferation of the backyard tractor dismantlers that sell parts on e-Bay and elsewhere. If there is a good supply of used parts, then the demand for new parts drops accordingly and manufacturers are not interested in doing a production run for 100 pieces. It just isn’t cost effective unless you jack the part prices way up. Of course, if you do that, then you create a demand for good, used parts. It is a vicious circle. The other factor is that most of you guys are so cheap, you squeak when you walk…….and I am one of you. We try to keep our costs to the bare minimum whether we are restoring one of these tractors or we are just repairing one so that it will cut our lawn or blow the snow in winter. We seek out alternative sources of new parts because we are repelled by some of the prices charged by Eastman’s dealer network.

In other words, all of us are part of the problem and no one has a viable solution. I predict that things are only going to get worse between now and 2020. Those of you wanting to keep their tractor in tip-top shape should consider doing a full restoration of it as soon as possible. I don’t see the Kohler engines being much of a problem but I do forecast Onan prices continuing to climb to the point where re-powering will be the only economical choice. I also see that the supply of affordable tractors will begin to shrink. More and more tractors will get dismantled and we are seeing the 4 digit models being parted on a regular basis. As for new tractors, I would be surprised if Eastman builds more than 1000 units per year these days.

Therefore, that huge bubble of 70’s and 80’s tractors that many of us have been feeding off is being depleted at a rapid rate and the one’s from the 90’s and early 2000’s are the next to get exploited. Then what?

Think about it.
 

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they make more money selling new tractors,,if you consider the way the tin tractors are built( to sell new tractors) they are in bad shape ,no wonder they aren't going to help us keeping our old iron running.they are in business to make bucks,not to collect rust
 

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On the other hand

I appreciate all the parts they do make, which is most. I have not had a problem getting any part I needed. I was pretty pissed when they wanted $20 each for those clutch spring washers but theyre $19 at mcmaster... soooo
 

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Some of the folks on this forum own these tractors for the historical/collectors aspect. Some own them because they get the job done. And some own them for both reasons. I have never been in the first category. I bought my Case used when I bought my house. I wanted a heavy duty tractor and I liked the looks of this design. I grew-up on a JD 316, and I very well could have went that route, but the dealer just happened to have my Case sitting there at the right price. It has served me well for the 14 years that I have owned it, and I assume it's 34 year life. However, since I have owned it, I have really came to appreciate it.

I often wondered when Eastman took over, if they would continue to manufacture this line of power equipment. Frankly, I am surprised that they have for so long. It would not surprise me to wake up one day and the Case/Ingersoll heritage be gone.

As it was mentioned, parts are getting harder to come by, more expensive to obtain, and in some cases---non-existant. So here-in lies a question. I'm a realistic person. Even though I love the styling of these tractors, I know that there are other manufacturers that can perform the same task and are well built. Kubota, JD (larger ones), etc. First question... let's take JD as an example, do they still have a good supply of parts for their 30+ year old tractors? And are they of a reasonable price? Is it perhaps time for those of us who just use the tractor for what it is... to perhaps switch to a better supported brand?

As an example, the dealer where I bought my tractor is gone. A small engine repair shop took over the business and is "supposedly" a dealer. However, they have very few parts in stock and I don't even think that they have a New model in stock. They are mainly just a dark, dingy, smokey, repair shop.

I am sitting here with a broken down 446 with bad Onan engine. As we discussed in another thread, it's going to cost me $1000+ to fix. What would the Kohler have cost to fix? Granted, if I fix the Onan, then it should be good for probably another 20 years or more. but what happens when I break something else.

I must say, I am really considering jumping ship because I don't want to get stuck with something that cannot be supported. BTW... anyone have parts for a Yugo? :smile:
 

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Since the basic Case/Ingersoll design has existed for more than 40 years it is well proven and has few, if any, weak spots. Many parts used on new models are interchangeable with those made 40 years ago so I suspect there are far fewer obsolete parts in the Case line than most other brands.

It is true that some JD tractors are as rugged as the Case but they are much more difficult to work on and the parts are certainly no cheaper. JD attachments are not interchangeable over all models/years as most Case attachments are so the costs and availability of attachments will be higher with JD.
 

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The only comment I can make is when I first became interested in these tractors I hunted down the website and from the looks of it did not know if they were still in business or not. Even if you go google "ingersoll garden tractors" right now, there is no sign of the official site within the first 20 listings, I didn't look farther than that - most surfers don't.


P.S.

This site did come up 20th. :thumbsup:
 

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The company is dying out and cant afford to make, sit on the investment in the hopes of selling, and supply old out of production parts. Nothing new with that picture. I wouldnt harp on them about it. People are in business to make money. If there is money to be made in producing, storing, and selling these parts then one of the people on this site will probably get into doing it. Demand ($) creates Supply.
 

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Re: One man's opinionhttp://www.casecoltingersoll.com/forum/

geeco1 said:
I am sitting here with a broken down 446 with bad Onan engine. As we discussed in another thread, it's going to cost me $1000+ to fix. What would the Kohler have cost to fix? Granted, if I fix the Onan, then it should be good for probably another 20 years or more. but what happens when I break something else.
Doesnt sound too bad to me. Its alot in relation to what the tractor is worth but not in a sense of what it can do or how long it will last.

Pistons for Kohler twins are $130-180ea. An onan piston is $120.
Connecting rods are $50-90ea. An Onan cr is $85.
A Kohler gasket/no seals set is $80. An Onan/with seals is $120-140

Not sure where the price difference is unless youre using import parts
 

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I too bought my 448 to work-and work it does. I have so many attachments (and use them all) that I would be hard-pressed to go to another brand.

Frankly, if the Onan blew up today, I'd put out a call for a good B48 engine here-and if it didn't happen in a very short time, I'd order a Vanguard repower from Jim's. I cannot be without this tractor for very long, and to replace the tractor AND implements would be an enormous expense.
 

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How many dealers are there in the U.S.? Is there an ongoing program to enlist new dealers? Is there an advertising program to promote the product? I'd never heard of an "Ingersoll" until my 444 came my way. Seems like all the R&D work that supposedly costs so much has been done for years, so I really don't want to hear whining about that. Start a sub-division to market the parts at a reasonable price, get the tooling, (they already have the rights and specs), and get moving. The CEO needs to kick their Marketing Div. out on their a$$ and hire good people to do the job. I've seen on this site about capable people being out of work-HIRE THEM. They may consider going back and marketing the LT line to compete with the box stores. There are ways to make the company viable, they just need to think out of the box a little and do something instead of wringing their collective hands while the company dies. If the company would provide real support, four good people would be able to start working towards a good dealer network in the U.S. and three or four more in Canada to do the same. My point of view is marketing and Eastman just doesn't get it done. Not everybody can afford a new 4018 or whatever, but there are people that can and will buy if they know about the product. Goes back to re-introducing the LT line to help with the normal consumer.
 

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I think this is a pretty small company and a lot of the ideas posted are great ones but ya gotta get a little realistic about it. Big big money to sit on parts inventory. More than the company itself.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Billygoat said:
How many dealers are there in the U.S.? Is there an ongoing program to enlist new dealers? Is there an advertising program to promote the product? I'd never heard of an "Ingersoll" until my 444 came my way. Seems like all the R&D work that supposedly costs so much has been done for years, so I really don't want to hear whining about that. Start a sub-division to market the parts at a reasonable price, get the tooling, (they already have the rights and specs), and get moving. The CEO needs to kick their Marketing Div. out on their a$$ and hire good people to do the job. I've seen on this site about capable people being out of work-HIRE THEM. They may consider going back and marketing the LT line to compete with the box stores. There are ways to make the company viable, they just need to think out of the box a little and do something instead of wringing their collective hands while the company dies. If the company would provide real support, four good people would be able to start working towards a good dealer network in the U.S. and three or four more in Canada to do the same. My point of view is marketing and Eastman just doesn't get it done. Not everybody can afford a new 4018 or whatever, but there are people that can and will buy if they know about the product. Goes back to re-introducing the LT line to help with the normal consumer.
I am going to swing a double-edged sword with this reply.

One one side, you have to look at the history. J. I. Case is world-wide corporation that began before the American Civil War. By the time Case bought Colt, the company already had a dealer network in place all over North America and the world. The name was highly trusted and they had ultra-deep pockets. The outdoor products division flourished largely in part to those facts. Anyone in agriculture, construction or associated trades were familiar with the Case name and what it stood for.

The problems began in 1986 when the Case name was no longer on the tractor but the Ingersoll name was. Who is Ingersoll? What do they know about making lawn and garden tractors? Jack Ingersoll ran smack dab into the wall called "brand recognition". Some Case dealers decided to stop selling these tractors just as soon as the Case name disappeared. This was a high-end product with a high price tag. People who have the money to buy high-end products not only wanted the CASE name on their tractor (snob appeal) but they also wanted the strength of a big corporation like J. I. Case backing up the product. Who can blame them? But if the lack of those two factors caused them to look elsewhere when they bought their next machine, then sales of Ingersoll branded products fell; both at the dealer level and at the corporate level. Dealers are in business to make money. They are not going to tie up showroom space, stockroom space and warehouse space unless there is public acceptance of the product.

I think that Jack Ingersoll MAY have seen the writing on the wall and decided to jump ship. He sold the company to the Rothenberger Group and that (in the opinion of many) was truly the worst possible thing that could have happened. I collect printed material. Case was fantastic at putting out advertising literature. They had dealer incentives, sales literature, belt buckles, hats, ties, tie pins, post cards, pith helmets, umbrellas etc. The amount of marketing done by the Rothenberger Group was apparently minimal, at best. I watch e-Bay all the time as does Jack. Try and find sales literature for 1995 to 2004 when Chapter 11 was declared. Thanks to Brian, I have the 2004 brochure and if you compare that brochure to the ones produced by Case or even when Jack Ingersoll was running the show, the difference is staggering. All through the 90's and into the 2000's, it is my understanding that dealers began to disappear from the landscape mainly because they felt that they were not being supported by the parent company. Fewer dealers obviously resulted in few sales of new tractors, as well as parts. More and more loyal owners were forced to change to another brand. By the time Eastman RESCUED Ingersoll, the brand was in terrible shape and none of that was their fault. Those who were at fault, are now long gone from the scene and Eastman is now expected to clean up their mess.

Let's look at the other side. Advertising can take place in newspapers, magazines, on the radio or television or on the internet. Most of these cost big bucks. A 30 second ad on Oprah's final TV show is allegedly going for a million bucks. Sure...that's the extreme end but even if you are spending ten grand for a 30 second spot, the tab mounts fast. We are talking about "return on investment" here in a highly competitive area of commerce. Realistically, it would take years of concerted action by Eastman to raise the profile of the awkward Ingersoll brand. Personally, I despise the name because all too often, it gets confused with Ingersoll-Rand. Some people might look on that as a bonus but I don't. Does anyone confuse Xerox with another brand? If someone utters that word, most people instantly know who the company is and what they make.

My major beef with Eastman is with their piece of crap website. No one will ever convince me that Eastman doesn't have the money to fix that problem. Doing so is just a beginning but it's a damn good start, in my books. The number of people who own a computer is growing every year and so is the number of people who are connected to the internet. This media isn't going away anytime soon and when you look at what other brands of GT's are doing on their websites to promote their product, Eastman's site looks like a home-based business at best. Eastman is desperate to find new dealers but in my opinion, they are going about it the wrong way. If you want to be a dealer, then you should be required to stock certain parts. That is called a "Initial stocking order" in dealer parlance. They should also be required to stock at least ONE tractor so that they have something to show prospective buyers. How do you sell a tractor from a brochure? Case had a Demonstrator Program for around five years to get the word out. Eastman could do something along those lines.

I have talked on the phone with Jeff, who is VP of Marketing. My impression is that Jeff is not the problem and that he can only do what the budget and Nick allow him to do. As for going into making box store types of tractors, the old Ingersoll company tried that many times and from what I see, none of them were very successful. I make that statement based on the number of e-Bay, C/L and other ads for the Case and Ingersoll LT, YT and RER models that were supposed to convince consumers to move up to the GT's that we all love. Right now, I'm trying to convince some of you to buy the ones that do show up and save them but even that is an uphill battle. The only reason most of you have a GT is because the price has dropped to the point of affordability. Of the 625 members on this site, it would surprise me if more than 5 own an Eastman-built Ingersoll. Eastman also needs to provide their dealers with a CURRENT brochure that shows the 3000 series and possibly the 3200 series if they went that far when they brought the Lo Pro line back. In my opinion, there is much that they can do that will not cost an arm and a leg but will go a long way to proving to the current dealer network that support is finally on the corporate agenda.
 

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Great points in this thread. A good learning experience for a fng like me.

The Eastman website is a disappointment.

Targeted magazine advertisements in Hobby Farms, Home Handyman, etc would go a long way. They're already close to bottom on name recognition; no where to go but up!
Best,
Jim
 
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