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Little Sod Buster

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

| April 2005

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    Doubled up: Each of Jim Diebler’s twin tractors are powered by a John Deere 1-1/2 HP Model E. Everything else is hand fabricated or borrowed from other implements.
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    'Clockwise, top right: A beautifully crafted, notched front axle suspended by stout 3-inch channel iron frame; pulling or pushing the lever to the driver’s right (left in photo) actuates a belt tensioner that slows or accelerates the tractor; view of the cockpit, showing the fabricated gearbox enclosure, stirrups, and clever use of a gate valve handwheel. '

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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.


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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