A. J. 's John Deere

Old John Deere tractor

Content Tools

2763 East 25 South, Layton, Utah 84840

I first realized how much fun kids can have with machinery when at the Barnes Steam and Gas Engine Show in Belgrade, Montana. The model train folks there let my daughter, A. J., drive the 'Old Rusty and Wobbly Railroad' train. During the same visit, a kind man let her drive his old John Deere tractor. She was so taken in by this that she said we should get a tractor for her to drive at our local engine show. I didn't think much of all this until, at our show in Salt Lake, I saw a little old garden tractor and decided that it was about the right size for a kid to enjoy.

One week after the show, I found an ad in the local paper for an old Wheel Horse garden tractor. I surprised my daughter by taking her to look at it and she surprised me by demanding we buy it!

I did so against my better judgment, as it was really a 'basket case,' with more rust, dents, and missing parts than I could imagine (even the engine was missing). Like a good dad at a weak moment, I bought it.

I was excited, until I got it home and started to disassemble it. What a mess this tractor was! The gear lube in the transmission was a light brown color, a mixture of water, dirt, and oil. The rust and dirt on the body parts were depressing, but it looked like there might be most of what was needed to make a tractor.

Piece by piece, I replaced rear axles, bored and sleeved the axle housings, replaced seals and bearings in the gearbox, repaired the pinion and sector parts of the steering, purchased and installed an engine, and welded metal patches in the wheels where rust had once been. After nearly a year of work in my spare time, it's together and it runs, not bad, kinda fun, even for Dad.

Next, I sanded and painted it so it would look like something. By now, A.J. was in love with John Deere tractors, so we painted the Wheel Horse tractor John Deere green and yellow. I applied John Deere decals and away we went.

She drove her tractor in the pasture at the engine show, much to her delight and to the envy of all the young boys that came by. I am glad we pursued this project, as it turned out to be fun for everyone.

Since that time, my brother Lon has found and purchased a Wheel Horse tractor for his eight year old son, Kyle. These kids really have a good time!