Y The Model L Was Designed

| November/December 1989

If the model 62 is the father of the model L, then the grand-daddy is the model Y.

In 1935 Deere & Company engineer Willard Nordensen was assigned to develop a new small tractor, but in his words, 'not spend any money'. Rather than being designed for truck farming as one might think, the tractor was designated for the south, to be the power source on farms where a single mule had previously been the power source.

Nordensen, who was joined by up to four other engineers, tried to design the new tractor as cheaply as possible. A two cylinder vertical Novo engine typical of those used in other types of John Deere equipment was utilized. The transmission and steering column were from a model A Ford. The Novo engine soon proved to have its share of problems and it was replaced by a Hercules engine. This engine was a four cylinder engine cut in half at the request of Deere & Company. To the best of anyone's knowledge today, two dozen model Y's were built. The tractors were built for mostly experimental purposes, however at least one seems to have been retailed to a man in Michigan, in the spring of 1936. The list price for this tractor was $532. All model Y's were eventually scrapped although one seems to have made it into the mid-1940's.

Although its numbers were not great, the model Y was a successful tractor in that it provided the general layout and design for the model 62 and later the popular model L and LA.