John Deere Crawler Restoration

| July/August 1989

  • John Deere MC crawler

  • John Deere MC crawler
    It took two years to restore this John Deere MC crawler.
  • Before restoration of the JD crawler
    Some 'before' shots of the JD crawler on this month's cover.

  • John Deere MC crawler
  • John Deere MC crawler
  • Before restoration of the JD crawler

3379 Macedonia Road Bethel, Ohio 45106

This story starts about two years ago when a friend of my dad's told us of a John Deere 'MC' sitting behind Wait's Garage in Newtown, Ohio. He said the owner wouldn't sell the 'MC' because everything, including the crawler, was going to be sold at an auction. My dad and I had been looking for an 'MC' for years, but with no luck. My dad figured we would wait and see if we could do any good at the auction.

I couldn't wait though. I just had to see what kind of condition the crawler was in. So, one Friday evening I took off for Newtown. I drove right to the garage and sure enough the 'MC' sat behind it. There were no trespassing signs all around, but I couldn't keep myself from looking the crawler all over. It was in pretty bad shape. It had been sitting there for quite some time. There was no grill and the radiator and hood looked like they had run into one too many trees. The exhaust was uncovered and full of water, which indicated that the motor was full of water also. I grabbed the pulley on front of the crankshaft only to find it would not budge. It had a twelve volt battery, which does wonders to a six volt system. The fenders had been caught up in the tracks and were torn up pretty bad. When I got done looking at the 'MC', I got in my car and started to leave when a car stopped me. I thought I was in trouble because of all of the no trespassing signs. The car pulled up along side of me. It was the owner. Evidently, he saw me back there as he drove by and turned around to see what I was doing. I told him I was looking at the crawler and would love to have it. He told me it was going to be sold at the auction, but after talking to him for a while he said he would sell the 'MC' to me. We talked a little bit longer and he gave me a price. I told him I would have to check with my dad first. He said that would be fine and that he would be at the garage on Monday getting everything ready for the auction. I came home and told my dad and he said that if  I didn't buy the crawler, he would. So when Monday rolled around I went back down and talked to Mr. Waits. I told him I would take the 'MC' and he seemed like he was tickled that I was getting it. We talked a little bit longer and he told me I could have the trailer he hauled it on and an old plow laying beside it. I could not wait to get the crawler home. I had bought some thing my dad had wanted for years.

When I got home I called Wendell Kelch, a good friend of ours, to see if he would haul it home for me. He said as soon as he got his trailer hooked up, he would pick me up and we would go. Sure enough, he was at my house in about fifteen minutes and we headed out. When we got there we had to move some stuff before we could winch the 'MC' up on the trailer. I did not know if the tracks were frozen or not, but the crawler rolled when we hooked it to the winch. After about an hour, we had everything loaded and boomed down. I went back and thanked Mr. Waits for selling the 'MC' to me and I would have to say he was one of the nicest men I have ever met. We then headed for home. When my dad came home from work he was surprised to see that we already had the 'MC' home.

That fall we began working on the 'MC'. Once we started taking the crawler apart there was no place to stop. The motor was stuck bad and had to be bored forty-five thousandths which barely cleaned it up. We had the crank turned ten-ten since it was badly worn. The manifold came off in three pieces. I could go on and on, but before long all that remained intact was the transmission and rearend, which rested on three jack-stands. Luckily, Rick Stegbauer had some 'MC' pieces left over, after he finished his, that I badly needed. I still needed most of the sheet metal though. After searching in many junkyards, I was able to find all of the sheet metal I needed along with an optional belt pulley.

After two years of hard work the 'MC' was finally done. I showed it for the first time this year at the Ohio Valley Antique Machinery Show at Georgetown, Ohio. For any of those John Deere lovers out there I thought you might want to know the 'MC' won its class in the antique tractor pull. I would like to thank my dad for helping me whenever I needed it and to my mom for staying kind of calm considering what the yard looked like when I finished taking the pictures of my crawler!

Dick Roscoe
7/19/2009 7:42:33 PM

Good to see you have restored an MC. I purchased an MC in November 2007 in Oragon and am presently restoring it. You can read about it in the Two Cylinder (March-April 2008) which has been most helpful. I do not know if you subscribe to that magazine but it has to be one of the best. Good Luck Dick


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