Little Sod Buster

By Staff
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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. '

I enjoyed reading my brother’s Gas Engine
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.

These tractors have been driven in a number of parades and have
been trouble-free. I probably had a little too much idle time on my

Contact engine enthusiast Jim Diebler at: 1990 290th
St., Garner, IA 50438; (641) 927-4606.

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