Little Sod Buster

With a Little Time on his Hands, an Iowa Collector Crafts his own /D-powered Tractors

| April 2005

I enjoyed reading my brother's Gas Engine Magazine and the very good articles on flywheel engines, homemade engines and tractors. I first picked up an interest in old engines about 5 years ago.

In my spare time I decided to put my old basket-case John Deere 1-1/2 HP engine to use by building a tractor. I built my first "Little Sod Buster" tractor in 2001, then decided to build a second one in 2003 to make a matched set.

The frames were built from heavy-wall, 3-inch channel iron. The front clip was narrowed and I added a grease zerk to the front pivot point for smooth operation. I attached the front wheels via a kingpin-type setup. The spreader wheels measure 24 inches in the front and 36 inches in the rear.

I used Model 70 John Deere garden tractor transaxles, gas tanks and steering boxes. The steering wheels are cast iron handwheels from large gate valves.

The transaxle as well as the engine are installed backwards. They have three forward speeds and one reverse. The clutch is set up to be like a 2-cylinder John Deere. I modified the brake band to use a lever on the left side.

To keep the drivetrain clean looking, I modified the crankshaft in order to install a sprocket between the flywheel and main bearing. Then I built a crankcase cover to cover the sprocket and chain. I left the original gas tanks on the engines off to give the needed clearance for the drive chains.