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My Son Troy's John Deere

| February/March 1998

  • 2 HP Witte engine

  • John Deere Model E engine

  • 2 HP Witte engine
  • John Deere Model E engine

RR 4, Box 354A Williamsport, Pennsylvania 17701-9579

This is a story of a John Deere 'E' engine, serial number 290364, a 1928, and how it was found and restored.

One Saturday, my stepdad, my boys, and I went to a show in my hometown to show off my stepdad's John Deere Model E hit and miss engine. When we arrived, there was a guy who had a couple of engines for sale. Naturally, I fell in love with my stepdad's John Deere sitting there purring away, so I bounced over and talked to the guy. He said he lived down the road and his name was Dave. (We later gave him the name of Flywheel because it suited him better!) He said he had a couple of engines for sale and I could come and look, if I was interested. I obviously 'sucked up' his offer and went to take a look. I ended up bringing home a 2 HP Witte for my son Tyler. (My wife and I had a big fight over it.)

I fixed it up with help from Flywheel Dave, and had it running within one year. Then one night I called and asked if he was going to be home tomorrow so I could bring my boys down to look at all of his 'junk' (engines) and he said yes! So the next day , early in the morning, we hopped in the Mazda pickup and we were off. When we arrived, he had one of his homemade tractors sitting in the driveway; next to that he had one of his scrap metal Toyotas. He said they will do a hundred miles an hour in second gear. (If you don't believe it's true, you'd better believe it, because one time he showed me how he did it.) We got out of our vehicle and we saw him sitting in his garage. He fired up a Stover. Then we turned our attention to a beaten John Deere model 'E' engine. It did run, but one of its previous owners abused it. My son Troy really liked it. I asked the price and he fooled around for a while, as usual. First he told us five dollars, and I told him I would take it for two dollars. (One of our other buddies likes to buy things for a couple of dollars, or he won't buy them.) We dickered for a while with the dollar thing, and then he finally told us, 'Yes.' I said, 'Bring it up to my house and I'll take it,' and he said, 'Okay.'

After I bought it, my boys tore it apart and we found everything to be in bad shape (rings, valves, bushings, mag., etc.) After it was torn apart we sandblasted it. Flywheel and I covered it with body filler, sanded it smooth, and finally the paint was sprayed on. We used auto -motive type paint because we found out it lasts a lot longer than spray bombs. We installed the new rings, re-ground the valves, and rebuilt the mag. The biggest secret of a John Deere, so that it doesn't leak oil, is to install oil seals on the outside of the mag and on the push rod for the ignitor trip. Finally last, but not least, was to install new gaskets. We put it all back together and got it running. To the moment, we have it apart to fix the one leaky gasket with that gasket silicone.

I would like to thank Flywheel Dave for helping us (this job would never have been accomplished without his help), and for giving us all those free engines! I would also like to thank Marshall Updegraff for all of his helpful welding skills. I think he may be one of the best welders in the country, so thanks, Marshall, for all the little things you have given us!


Gas Engine Magazine A_M 16Gas Engine Magazine is your best source for tractor and stationary gas engine information.  Subscribe and connect with more than 23,000 other gas engine collectors and build your knowledge, share your passion and search for parts, in the publication written by and for gas engine enthusiasts! Gas Engine Magazine brings you: restoration stories, company histories, and technical advice. Plus our Flywheel Forum column helps answer your engine inquiries!

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