Johnny Popper Jr. Hit &. Miss tractor

The picture is my recently constructed Johnny Popper Jr. Hit &. Miss tractor.

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Rt. 11, Box 493 Poplar Bluff, Missouri 63901

The Stover engine and the 1952 B series John Deere tractor were purchased at a local farm auction in the spring of 1994. The tractor had already been professionally restored and was in perfect running condition. The Stover engine, on the other hand, was mechanically free, had good compression and appeared to have been well prepared for extended storage many years ago, although hadn't been run in over a decade. The engine sat around in my barn for a year before I figured out what to do with it. I occasionally attempted to start it with ether but could only get it to hit two or three times at best.

After learning of an old timer 20 miles north of my hometown, the engine was loaded up on a trailer and delivered to him. His excitement with old engines did not allow him to waste any time before beginning 'operating' on the old one lunger. Although I was aware that there was still some trash in the fuel tank after many flushings, I was unaware of a check valve at the end of the siphon tube in the fuel tank. After many years of storage, the check valve was totally gunked up and sealed shut with varnish. After a good soaking in carburetor cleaner and blowing out with pressurized air, the parts were reassembled, installed and the engine was successfully started. What a treat it was to hear this massive conglomeration of cast iron come to life after a 10-plus year hiatus! It was also the first hit and miss I've ever heard run.

The next step involved a mild teardown to prepare for a new coat of green paint. Although the original paint appeared to be a dark green, I elected to use John Deere Green. The Wico magneto brass housing had been painted black somewhere along the way, but it seemed a shame to hide what could easily become a highly polished brass finish, so off came the black paint and on went the new luster.

The next stumbling block to deal with after reassembly was what to do with the finished product. I had somewhat considered ordering a kit to build a little hand truck to tote the engine around, but the sheer weight and bulkiness of the engine voted against this option. The intense craving to harness the mechanical energy of this little fire exhausting monster was catalyst enough to round up a pickup load of odds and ends parts and structural steel to assemble a tractor. Since I already had the '52 B as sort of a 'blueprint,' I thought, well, why not build a Jr. sized tractor modeled after the big one.

Exact duplication for authenticity's sake was not really what I was after, as the photos reveal, but I wanted the finished tractor to suggest that the big JD was used as a rough draft. The front I-Beam and rear 4-speed transaxle were obtained from a local lawn-mower salvage yard and had previously been housed in two different Ford garden tractors. The steering box came with the front axle. After measuring the bolt pattern on the transaxle, it was determined that full sized Dodge pickup truck wheels would bolt right up. A local used tire store had a pair of like-new steel belted radial snow tires for $50, so I picked up a pair of Dodge wagon wheels that were compatible with the tires. The rear fenders are 15 inch boat trailer fenders. The seat was obtained from a flea market for $12 and was cushion mounted using a spring off a tool and die machine. Two pairs of pillow block bearings holding two jackshafts transfer the power back to the transaxle input pulley. Pulley ratios were stepped up at every power transfer point to allow the tractor to obtain a top speed in high gear similar to a brisk walking speed. Two hitches installed at the rear enable the tractor to pull a variety of trailers in parades, hay rides, etc.

Both tractors pulled custom built Budweiser draft beer trailers in our town's recent Fourth of July parade and were on display at the fair afterwards. Although some of the old timers may not have been particularly impressed (being familiar with this type of engine), the younger folks absolutely loved this display of Americana from yesteryear!

This Stover engine was complete with the exception of the serial and model number tag which appears to have been riveted to the top angled side next to the hopper. Cast into the side of the block opposite the magneto is 4CT2. I am curious to know the year and horsepower. Any suggestions as to how I could find out?