John Deere Crawler Restoration

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

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!

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