RR 2 Webster City, Iowa 50595
This is a story about a tractor that started 30 years earlier. A model 80 John Deere diesel, built in 1955.
When I got out of high school in May of 1955, I went to work for a John Deere Tractor Co. at Waterloo, Iowa. At that time, they had just set up a new assembly line to build a new Model 80 tractor. I was one of the lucky dozen or so employees who were chosen to set up the assembly line. It took us about six weeks to assemble the first tractor because of all the problems involved with setting up production on something new. We were soon producing one or two a day. And it soon got into a full swing of production. I worked at this until November of 1955, when I decided that I was not cut out for factory work and decided to quit
Years passed and I still had the fond memories for the Model 80 John Deere. But it was out of the question, since I was not a farmer and didn't have the need for a tractor (especially that size).
In 1977, the old 'tractor bug' bit. After going to Albert City, Iowa to their Annual Threshermen and Collectors Show for the first time, I decided that I just had to have an old John Deere to restore (being I was brought up in John Deere country).
I found a 1931 John Deere G.P. in pieces, hauled it home, and restored it. And the 'bug' had bit hard.
This is how the story about the '80' came about:
After receiving the GEM May-June issue of 1984 and reading the ads, I found a Model 80 listed in Overbrook, Kansas, a Mr. Frank Turner. After seeing the serial number (#198), I remembered that it was one I had helped put together back in 1955. After convincing my wife that life could not go on with out this tractor, I called Mr. Turner and made arrangements to pick it up.
On a Saturday morning, my wife, two of my sons, and I left for Over
Brook, Kansas, some 500 miles from Webster City, Iowa. When we were 25 miles from home it began to rain very hard and continued until we got to Kansas. We were about 50 miles north of Topeka, Kansas when we came over a hill and water was running over the highway ahead.
We had planned to be at Mr. Turner's about 2:00 and it was 2:00 with 70-80 miles to go. We decided to go west and go around the high water. Although we had come all of this way without a map, we finally had to stop and ask someone how we could get around the high water. We were informed that it probably wouldn't do us any good because a dam had broken and the town was under water; therefore, we assumed that the highway was also under water.
So we went back east, stopped at a station and called to see if we could
get through that way, but we found out water was going over the road that way also. We decided to go back and wait, a local authority informed us that the water should go down in about 2 hours.
While we were waiting, a tornado watch for the area was in effect.
Finally the water receded enough so that we could cross. We proceeded behind two large semi-trucks with water up to our axles. The empty trailer seemed to want to float down with the current as we went across, but we made it without mishap.
We arrived at Frank Turner's Farm in a hard down pour. They had received 6 inches of rain the day before and, so far, had 6 inches on the day that we arrived.
After looking at the tractor, which was in one of his sheds, we loaded it without any problems. After leaving Mr. Turner's farm, we went back to Topeka, Kansas, where we spent the night.
The next morning the sun was shin' ing and we had a perfect day to come home with the '80'
The morning seemed so perfect because of our new possession; and life couldn't have seemed better suddenly, looking in the mirror, I saw blue smoke coming from the trailer. I pulled the truck to a stop and ran back to the trailer. I noticed that one of the spring leaves had broken and turned in towards the tire, ruining the tire (we had put a new set on the trailer just before leaving on the trip). After patching the spring up so we could get by, we cautiously continued another 350 miles home without any more serious mishaps (except for power steering hose developing a leak).
Since then we have painted the tractor and overhauled the Pony Motor. We have taken it to two shows and can't wait until next year when we can go to more shows and show off our '80'.
My wife has warned me that is her last trip after old junk tractors; but I think when the time comes she will be right beside me just like always