Twisted Crankshaft 'D' John Deere

'D' John Deer Tractor

No, it's not a 'D' John Deere with a Titan engine in it, but it runs like one.

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R.R.2, Box 111 Hillsboro, Kansas 67063.

Having grown up on a farm with the familiar 2-cylinder popping, Wilbert K. Bartel thought it would be humorous relief to change the tone of the D's exhaust.

A 200 HP, type S. I. De Lavergne engine inspired him to convert a 2-cylinder John Deere to a 360-degree firing order. He did just that some five years ago in his machine shop near Hillsboro, Kansas.

The guinea pig selected for the project was a styled D purchased from a friend at an affordable price. This tractor was definitely not in showroom condition. The head, block and radiator had suffered from severe frost cracks.

On the inside, Bartel found well burned valves, worn bearings and pistons with at least three-sixteenths-inch clearance, and an oil pump drawing from several inches of sludge. The rest of the tractor was in the condition you would expect when there are boots in each tire.

The crankshaft and camshaft were removed from the tractor. Bartel began the modifying process by cutting the crankshaft at two places with an oxygen cutting torch, allowing the center diagonal to be removed. Then one-half of the crankshaft was rotated 180 degrees, the throws were put together, and then welded back together on a specially fabricated jig. Additional counter weights were added to provide proper balance for the pistons which now traveled together back and forth.

To provide proper valve timing, the camshaft was cut between the two sets of lobes, indexed with a 90-degree twist and welded. Ignition timing was adjusted by modifying the Edison Splitdorf magneto to provide spark on every crankshaft revolution.

Bartel's intended result became realitya smooth running D with a different sound. How smooth the modified tractor ran was readily apparent when belted to a large Baker fan. This D can easily pick up the load with minimal belt whip and jerk. Other D's nearly jerk the fan off the ground with the belt whip generated by the uneven firing (provided the clutch can be fully engaged without stalling).

Two years later, Bartel made more modifications to the tractor. A pair of used aluminum high-compression 0.90 inch oversize pistons were put in. Though the cylinders did not even clean up after the bore job because of excessive cylinder wear, the piston fit improved dramatically. The standard sized piston rings, new when assembled the first time, were rebuilt and used again. Rebuilding involved welding additional length to the ring to reduce the endgap, then peening on the inside to provide proper tension.

Bartel also added a cold intake manifold and dual exhaust, which provides more 'bark' for the 60-plus HP at standard RPM 'bite.' In its modified form, this D has plowed many acres in high gear with a 3-bottom, 14-inch number 55BH John Deere plow.

Bartel's tractor is an attraction and is fully demonstrated annually at the Wheat Heritage Engine and Threshing Company Show in Goessel, Kansas. The 1993 show dates are August 6-8. Goessel is located in South Central Kansas, about 15 miles north of Newton on Highway 15 and about 50 miles north of Wichita.