An Old John Deere 'D'

Content Tools

P.O. 1605 Branson, Missouri 65616

I have been a subscriber of GEM and IMA for many years-since the early 60's, I think. Old iron has always had an appeal to me. Back in the 40's, when I was in high school, I bought a John Deere 'D' and used it for many years around home in Thousand Oaks, California, discing, pulling a hay baler, and testing deep wells by using the belt on big turbine pumps. It was common practice to pump a new well for seven days and nights to see if the well had a good supply of water. One day my father decided to build a big metal building, and ordered about 22 tons of 3' x 3' x ? 'angle iron. It was delivered on a semi-truck, and was stacked in a square bundle on the trailer, and there was no way to unload it! I got the 'D', tied a chain around the stack of iron, and got ready to pull. All the people standing around were laughing and saying things like, 'It won't work,' etc. I gently engaged the clutch, and the 'D' went 'POP-POP,' and dug a hole with both wheels. The steel didn't move. I backed up about two feet, opened the throttle, snapped the clutch. The 'D' leaped ahead, hit the end of the chain, and the steel started to move! The engine almost died, but slowly started to gain RPM. The steel was banded together to form a solid bundle, and it came off the trailer like a piece of wet spaghetti. When the leading edge hit the ground, it dug a hole about four feet deep, and when the end came off, it broke the heavy chain.

I enlisted in the Navy in 1951, and was in the Sea Bees. I spent three years on Cubi Point, in Subic Bay, Philippines. I was a mechanic working on all sorts of construction equipment. I was in Mobile Construction, Battalion Five. I put the 'D' in the barn, and when I came home four years later, it started-by hand-on the second try. When I moved to Tehachapi, California in 1968, I bought another 'D'. This one had electric start, and turning brakes. We used it for everything on the farm, and in the winter, when everything was covered with snow, it was the only tractor that would always start. When I knew I was going to move to Branson, Missouri, in 1983, I used the 'D' to disc up about ten acres to plant some barley. I really did it just to hear the old tractor work one last time. I gave it to my son so he could sell it, and ran an ad in GEM. He said the day GEM came out, he got 18 phone calls. The man who bought it came from near Oxnard, California, and drove about 150 miles for it. I know it pays to advertise in GEM! After moving to Branson, I joined the Ozarks Steam Engine Club in Springfield, Missouri. In 1988, I made a video tape of our show. Not being a photographer, or even owning video equipment, I hired the news team of one of the local TV stations to tape the show. It took three days to do the taping, and because of the size of their camera, and the station's name on it, everyone thought they were going to be on the six o'clock news! We made a very good, professionally produced tape, and I advertised it in all the steam and gas engine magazines and several farm papers. By a large margin, most of the sales came from GEM! Incidentally, I still have some left if you missed out, or didn't have a video tape player then. One of the advantages for the club was that the next year the TV station used parts of the tape to advertise our show. If your club hasn't made a tape, you should give it some serious consideration, not only as a money making venture, but to preserve memories of your club and its present members. Think what that tape will be worth 20-30 years from how. And you never know who will buy them. One day I got a phone call from New Zealand! The connection was as clear as if the call came from across the street, and the lady calling spoke better English than I do. I accept Mastercard and Visa, and she gave me her card number, and the tape was sent the same day. We truly live in a shrinking world!

I have a business called 'Tiny Power' and I build small steam engines-mostly working table top models, but also some big enough to do real work. I have one in my shop that pulls a 4 KW generator, and the marine version will power a boat up to 26 feet long. Branson is known to most people in the midwest for its country music theaters, good fishing, and theme parks. Our Chamber of Commerce claims over four million people a year visit this area. If one of them is you, come by for a visit! I always have some old iron to look at. I almost forgot-one of the descendants of the founder of the Cushman Engine Company owns a theme park here, and has quite a collection of Cushman engines. If you are a 'Cushman Collector' you might want to look him up at Mutton Hollow Craft Village.