Cafeteria Style Deere

Stover Engine

William Rogers, Hannacroix, NY 12087, sends this 1990 picture of seven-year-old Erin and her 'Miss Stover' engine, a 1925 Model KA hit & miss.

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Rt 2, Box 330 Buckholts, Texas 76518

In the winter of 1991, after having bought a 1939 model B John Deere which turned out to be more of a challenge than I bargained for, an opportunity to obtain parts arose. Having caught a glimpse of air stacks and mufflers across the ubiquitous Texas mesquite at a ranch about 10 miles from my home, I determined to stop at the earliest opportunity to explore the possibilities.

One day when returning from Austin, I saw that the owner's pickup was there, so I stopped to visit. After meeting 'Beck,' the owner, and declaring my need for parts, I was informed that he would not sell a whole tractor, but was willing to sell some parts, so we went to see what was available. To my amazement, there sat a veritable 'cafeteria' of old Johnnies. In addition to a '39 B, there were three Hs, a part of another, a '35 B, a '38 B, and a 1941 six speed B. A plentiful selection!

After feasting my eyes on the rusty old machines, arrangements were made to return with a more complete parts-needed list. When a return trip was made in a few days, the grocery list of needs was presented. Beck said 'You need the whole tractor if you have that much missing.' Recovering quickly, I agreed, and asked what he would take for it. His response was 'make an offer.' This is usually a tricky situation, but by then we were becoming friends, and learning to trust each-other. I offered to pay what he had said earlier that he had given for it years ago, realizing that certain parts alone were now quite valuable. The deal was made.

After two trips to set the wheels in so the tractor would fit my trailer, the big day for hauling it home arrived. My son met me on location, and we persuaded the old girl to mount the trailer with the help of a chain hoist and a Hy-Boy jack. When we stopped at Beck's house on the way out, he thought we had paid too much. At least he told us that if we had seen anything else that we needed we could go get it. My answer was that I really would like to have a particular set of front wheels off one of the other old tractors. 'Go get 'em,' he says, 'and anything else you want.' We got the set of front cutoffs from a pre-'43 H, an oval radiator cap which was on the ground but sheltered by a rear tire, and an old, semi-retired magneto.

The trip home was made without incident. The '39 from Beck was rebuilt with parts from the original '39, instead of the other way around, in the winter of 1991-1992. About 300 hours were devoted to this one. It made a beautiful addition to the collection, although it has such flaws as pits from rust on the wheels, dents in the hood, worn spots on the drawbar, etc., that were earned in 50 years of hard work.

In October 1991, she was loaded to go to the Texas Early Day Tractor and Engine Association show. I drove to Beck's place to show him how it had turned out. The end result: two of the H's have been bought and hauled home, where they await their turn in the shop. The '41 B belongs to Beck's son-in-law, and is not for sale, but I hope to finalize a deal for the two B's soon. Not bad for the plentiful cafeteria selections which were not for sale!