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John Deere EK Engine History

A quick look at the 1926-1946 kerosene John Deere EK engine line.

| June/July 2018

  • A cutaway drawing of John Deere's kerosene EK engine as shown in a factory brochure.
    Image courtesy Jim White
  • Cylinder head of the 1-1/2 hp EK. The EK engines are all volume governed rather than hit-and-miss, but are otherwise almost identical to the Model E.
    Photo by Jim White
  • A 1-1/2 hp John Deere EK, serial number 306332, built in 1929.
    Photo by Jim White
  • Most EK engines were shipped overseas.
    Photo by Jim White
  • A 3 hp John Deere EK, serial number 2997799, built in 1929.
    Photo by Jim White
  • Build plate on the 3 hp EK shows it was shipped to Argentina.
    Photo by Jim White
  • A 6 hp John Deere EK, serial number 337727, built in 1936.
    Photo by Jim White
  • Cylinder head view of the 6 hp EK.
    Photo by Jim White

The “decision copy” to build John Deere EK engines was officially stamped May 20, 1926, by special clerk 2159. According to the copy, it states, “We will accept kerosene burning engines (type EK) which will be built from our standard 1-1/2, 3 and 6 hp engines with changes as listed on the reverse side of sheet. There EK engines have been built and tested in the Experimental Department with satisfactory results.”

The original “decision sheet” in the John Deere archives states “estimated production per year: 1-1/2 hp – 200, 3 hp – 150, and 6 hp – 150, with a total of 500.” Also handwritten on the decision sheet is “tools ready August 20.”

The first three EK engines shipped from John Deere were serial numbers 258067 – 1-1/2 hp, 258068 – 3 hp and 258069 – 6 hp, all going to Bulgaria and a shipping date of June 24, 1926. (An interesting note handwritten in the engine ledger states “returned, C.M. 5145.”) No explanation is given for the return of these engines or date of return.

According to the ledger, it appears for several years only Model E engines were manufactured, an example being 1935 and 1936. In the ledger the engines are listed as E, but handwritten in ink, a “K” is written beside the “E” and a note in ink “changed to EK.” My 6 hp EK was originally listed as an E, but changed to an EK at the factory on June 23, 1936, and exported July 25, 1936.

Serial numbers were assigned to the engines as they were produced, with no numbers being broken out for any particular model or horsepower. An example being number 271832 – 1-1/2 hp E, 271833 – 6 hp EK and 271834 – 1-1/2 hp E.

Because of the large number of EK engines produced, I randomly selected two months to give production numbers: October 1927: 27 – 1-1/2 hp EK, 30 – 3 hp EK and 33 – 6 hp EK.


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