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The story of Old Reliable

| January/February 1983

RD 1, Millersville, PA 17551

This is the story of my 1938 John Deere A. The rusty old tractor stood with many tractor in an overgrown, grassy lot. It was along a secluded York County, Pennsylvania road. The tractor was not stuck and looked like it was worth $400.00. The owner sold it to me, guaranteed to run, in the summer of 1975.

The trip home was easy. A Dodge 4-wheel drive pulled the tractor ten feet and it started. We backed the tractor on the trailer and headed for home. People sure looked at what I'm sure they thought was junk!

The old girl sure needed some work. It took a head rebuild job, new pistons, valves, etc. I decided to tear it down and rebuild it from scratch. Nearly all the parts were available from our local John Deere dealer and from fellow collectors.

All during restoration, my grandfather took a keen interest n my unusual hobby. He told me about the used John Deere A he bought during the war. They were reliable and real work horses. Grandfather was the only one in the family that wanted to see the tractor restored in showroom condition. He didn't laugh and he didn't make jokes. I finally got the tractor running in 1976 and Grandfather was tickled pink! He owned two farms which his sons farmed. Of course, they had modern John Deere tractors. When the 38A was used, lo and behold, guess who drove??? He was 76 years old and always drove the A in hay or straw harvest. Grandfather still insisted that I should paint it to showroom condition. I promised it would be before spring.

Spring came and the John Deere was not painted. My grandfather did not live through the winter. His name was Chris K. Neff and I'll always remember his stories of yesteryear of farming with two bangers. When I look at the shiny gears, I think of him.


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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