An Old John Deere ‘D’

By Staff

P.O. 1605 Branson, Missouri 65616

I have been a subscriber of GEM and IMA for many years-since the
early 60’s, I think. Old iron has always had an appeal to me.
Back in the 40’s, when I was in high school, I bought a John
Deere ‘D’ and used it for many years around home in
Thousand Oaks, California, discing, pulling a hay baler, and
testing deep wells by using the belt on big turbine pumps. It was
common practice to pump a new well for seven days and nights to see
if the well had a good supply of water. One day my father decided
to build a big metal building, and ordered about 22 tons of 3′
x 3′ x ? ‘angle iron. It was delivered on a semi-truck, and
was stacked in a square bundle on the trailer, and there was no way
to unload it! I got the ‘D’, tied a chain around the stack
of iron, and got ready to pull. All the people standing around were
laughing and saying things like, ‘It won’t work,’ etc.
I gently engaged the clutch, and the ‘D’ went
‘POP-POP,’ and dug a hole with both wheels. The steel
didn’t move. I backed up about two feet, opened the throttle,
snapped the clutch. The ‘D’ leaped ahead, hit the end of
the chain, and the steel started to move! The engine almost died,
but slowly started to gain RPM. The steel was banded together to
form a solid bundle, and it came off the trailer like a piece of
wet spaghetti. When the leading edge hit the ground, it dug a hole
about four feet deep, and when the end came off, it broke the heavy
chain.

I enlisted in the Navy in 1951, and was in the Sea Bees. I spent
three years on Cubi Point, in Subic Bay, Philippines. I was a
mechanic working on all sorts of construction equipment. I was in
Mobile Construction, Battalion Five. I put the ‘D’ in the
barn, and when I came home four years later, it started-by hand-on
the second try. When I moved to Tehachapi, California in 1968, I
bought another ‘D’. This one had electric start, and
turning brakes. We used it for everything on the farm, and in the
winter, when everything was covered with snow, it was the only
tractor that would always start. When I knew I was going to move to
Branson, Missouri, in 1983, I used the ‘D’ to disc up about
ten acres to plant some barley. I really did it just to hear the
old tractor work one last time. I gave it to my son so he could
sell it, and ran an ad in GEM. He said the day GEM came out, he got
18 phone calls. The man who bought it came from near Oxnard,
California, and drove about 150 miles for it. I know it pays to
advertise in GEM! After moving to Branson, I joined the Ozarks
Steam Engine Club in Springfield, Missouri. In 1988, I made a video
tape of our show. Not being a photographer, or even owning video
equipment, I hired the news team of one of the local TV stations to
tape the show. It took three days to do the taping, and because of
the size of their camera, and the station’s name on it,
everyone thought they were going to be on the six o’clock news!
We made a very good, professionally produced tape, and I advertised
it in all the steam and gas engine magazines and several farm
papers. By a large margin, most of the sales came from GEM!
Incidentally, I still have some left if you missed out, or
didn’t have a video tape player then. One of the advantages for
the club was that the next year the TV station used parts of the
tape to advertise our show. If your club hasn’t made a tape,
you should give it some serious consideration, not only as a money
making venture, but to preserve memories of your club and its
present members. Think what that tape will be worth 20-30 years
from how. And you never know who will buy them. One day I got a
phone call from New Zealand! The connection was as clear as if the
call came from across the street, and the lady calling spoke better
English than I do. I accept Mastercard and Visa, and she gave me
her card number, and the tape was sent the same day. We truly live
in a shrinking world!

I have a business called ‘Tiny Power’ and I build small
steam engines-mostly working table top models, but also some big
enough to do real work. I have one in my shop that pulls a 4 KW
generator, and the marine version will power a boat up to 26 feet
long. Branson is known to most people in the midwest for its
country music theaters, good fishing, and theme parks. Our Chamber
of Commerce claims over four million people a year visit this area.
If one of them is you, come by for a visit! I always have some old
iron to look at. I almost forgot-one of the descendants of the
founder of the Cushman Engine Company owns a theme park here, and
has quite a collection of Cushman engines. If you are a
‘Cushman Collector’ you might want to look him up at Mutton
Hollow Craft Village.

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