MY 1921 JOHN DEERE

Model 'H' John Deere tractor

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Bossier City, Louisiana 71111

My dad started me out in the field driving our model 'T' pickup to the house while he drove tractor and machinery home after finishing a field. I was so small I had to stand on the floorboards to see ahead. He would release the emergency lever and put it part-way down and I would push in the low pedal. This way I would never get out of a fast walk. Of course, the tractor moved even slower. I would hold down on low pedal until my leg would get tired and slip off. This, of course, would kill the engine. So when my father would catch up he would patiently restart me home again and he would return to the tractor. I probably killed the pickup at least 8 or 10 times in the couple of miles before we would get home.

Incidentally, this happened around Tangier, Oklahoma in northwest Oklahoma where I grew up. Finally, I graduated to where I could put the old 'T' in high gear and drive home. I learned this when I could not hurt anyone or anything. I credit this to good teaching and lots of patience on the part of my dad. In fact I will say I have never caused an accident in over 50 years of driving. I have been hit three times when there was not a bar ditch to get into to get out of the way. Anyhow I learned my love for driving trucks and tractors this way. I still say a good tractor and plow that turns over God's good clean earth is the most satisfying and pleasant smell there is.

Soon we acquired an old 1928 Chevrolet 1?-ton truck with a 100-bushel grain bed on it. On the way to the grain elevator we had to drive over a very steep overpass across the Sante Fe Railroad in the city of Tangier. Well those who know of the 28 Chevy and its old vacuum tank know they always caused trouble. So before we would get to the top of the steep grade the heavy load would take its toll and cut off the gasoline supply and down we'd go backwards to the bottom. Also they had lousy brakes. So we would have to back way up the road and make another run for it. Very little traffic so this didn't cause too much of a problem. People knew the problem and they wouldn't pull behind you until you made the grade. When we would start down the other side in low gear it would hold it down enough to make the sharp bend at the bottom to take the road into the grain elevator.

The old elevator was powered by a big old one cylinder gasoline engine, hit and miss type. This is where I got my love for the sound of the old hit and miss engine. I always said that when I grew up I was going to get one of those old engines and put it in the front yard and let it run for all to hear. Of course, my wife cancelled this idea of a front yard engine. Anyhow, I did get one of those engines (in fact 70 of them). I have several mounted on trucks so I may pull them outside and run when I wish. Then they go back under cover as I hate to see any machinery out in the elements unprotected.

Think now it might be time to get on with my engine story or tractor as the case may be.

The year was 1974. I lived in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, at the time and worked for the Federal Aviation Agency as an electronic technician. I decided that I wanted to build a tractor. I have no welding equipment and never had the occasion to learn to weld, so this project would entail getting a partner.

A buddy of mine, Herb Little, who incidentally I had talked into becoming an 'Engine Nut' like myself, and I decided we would build one. We made a deal that for doing the welding and for his work, I'd give him my 1938 model A John Deere tractor.

We took off for Fargo, Okla., to see a friend of mine to get parts with which to build. There we purchased an old Nash Metropolitan car. We also got a model 'T' frame. This now gave us the skeleton to start. We took the body off the Nash to get the transmission, differential, steering gear and brakes. We also used back wheels to move it around. Then we drove to Wichita, Kansas where I swapped Harold Ottoway out of an old 3 HP hit and miss John Deere gasoline engine-a 1930 model in pretty sad shape. This was to become the power plant for the tractor. We started assembling this equipment and got the project off the ground.

About this time proceedings for a medical retirement came up for me from F.A.A. and in June of 19751 was medically retired.

My wife works for Sears and is required to transfer quite often. This move sent me to Wichita Falls, Texas and put the brakes on tractor building. I was not well a lot of the time and time passed.

In January 1976 my wife was transferred to Temple, Texas. This proved good for me as I became associated with the Texas Early Day Gas Engine and Tractor Association. (I also belong to the Oklahoma Steam Thresher Association of Pawnee, Oklahoma, and The Bayou Old Time Engine and Power Association of Louisiana.) I made many good friends in the Meridian, Texas, area of this association. These Texas engine people are fine people and very good friends. In fact, most engine people are good people!

Every once in a while I would be in Oklahoma City and do a little work on the little tractor. Herb, in the meantime, moved to El Reno, Oklahoma, so this almost stopped work on the tractor entirely.

Then in March of 1977 they operated on me at Temple, Texas, for cancer. I was sent to M.D. Anderson Cancer Hospital and another operation was performed on me in April of 1977. In the time from then till now I return to Oklahoma City and Houston for continued treatment and checkups. I am happy to say I feel very good most of the time. Can't do much work but putter when I feel up to it. This cancer put an urgency on building my tractor. I wanted to get it done so I could drive it in the show at Pawnee, Oklahoma, before I departed this earth.

During 1976 I restored an old model 'H' John Deere tractor. Time slipped on and progress on the little tractor got slower and slower.

In May of 1979 I found a 'GP' regular tread J.D. tractor. It was within 10 miles of where I had lived for 23 years and I didn't know it existed. I had been hunting one to restore for about 6 years. Well, I traded for it. In June I went with my trailer to get it. With the help of Herb Little and V. R. Lawson we tried to get the 'GP' overhauled enough to get it off the trailer when I got to Louisiana. Vince did a lot of rebuilding gas parts etc. But the tractor had some problem requiring a complete tear down and overhaul. I called my good friend in Meridian, Texas, M. H. Sylvester, and asked if I could bring the tractor down to his shop. He is retired and has a nice machine shop. He agreed, so to Meridian I drove.

Parts are not available for this old 1929 'GP', so Mr. Sylvester made new valves for it and several other parts. The problem in the engine was the governor was so worn out it was locking up and stopping everything from turning. This he rebuilt. After many long hard hours and three days we had it running. The carburetor had problems but it would run halfway. So home I went.

At this point I see I left out part of my story so I will pick this up now. In August 1977 we were transferred to Pineville, Louisiana. Then in June of 1978 to Bossier City, Louisiana. You can well imagine how these moves upset my tractor building.

I had machinery and engines in Oklahoma, Texas and Louisiana. Finally, I have them all home from Oklahoma. I still have a 1934 big 4 J.D. mowing machine and a 1905 J.D. 1-bottom sulky plow at Meridian, Texas. Hope to get this home soon.

In June while in Oklahoma I persuaded another engine collector friend to finish welding on my little tractor so I could get it to Louisiana and finish it. His name is Wayne Welliver and when he does something he does it good. He agreed to do this as Herb was working at two jobs and was newly married and didn't have time to work on the tractor.

In the meantime I returned to M.D. Anderson Hospital for a checkup and on the way home I stopped in Lake Charles, Louisiana to see a friend of mine, John Morse. He built my carburetor parts up on the 'GP' carb. so it would run better. Still needs a float valve though as I can't make this one hold. But anyway the 'GP' runs fine!

In November I went again to Fargo, Oklahoma, and picked up more parts that I needed to complete my tractor. Wayne had the welding done, so I brought it home with me. So for about a week I finished putting it together. Parts used in it are John Deere, Allis-Chalmers, Chevrolet truck, model T Ford, Nash, A combine and a few miscellaneous other parts. Next I spent two weeks and $50.00 of paint to paint the tractor.

I call the tractor a 1921 model 'Z' J.D. after my birthday. It is complete now with the exception I need some good tires. It runs very well and certainly causes a stir, excitement, and curiosity around here.