R.D.5, 110 El Camino Drive Norfolk, Nebraska 68701-6704
This is the restoration story of my John Deere LA, serial #1 A 5825. It all started with a conversation with a friend, Mr. George Mesch, a collector of anything John Deere. I had indicated I would like to restore a John Deere LA. He gave me the name of a gentleman in Logan, Utah, who had an LA and would be interested in selling it. After a few calls, we settled on a price, and we were off with a trailer to pick up my prize. It was an enjoyable trip with the anticipation of what was waiting for me in Utah. Upon arrival we were greeted by Mr. Sterling Weber, owner of the tractor. He promptly led us to my newly acquired treasure. It was a sad looking outfit, sitting there in the weeds with flat tires, motor stuck, and numerous other problems. Even though it appeared a little on the tired side, I could see a couple of unique features I liked. One was a power takeoff, and the other an adjustable width front end. My wife saw it as junk, but I could only see it as it looks today. However, I would agree with her there were a few improvements to be made, I wouldn't want to buy it if restoration had been completed. The name of the game is to make something out of nothing.
After we returned home, the LA was completely torn down. The motor was disassembled and taken to the machine shop for rebore, crank job, cam bearings, and all that goes with rebuilding a motor.
With the motor in the machine shop, I started on the metal work. I spent many hours working on the hood, fenders, and grille. Several times I almost broke down and bought a new grille, but I like to restore rather than replace. After cutting several of the grille bars out, so I could repair them on the bench, it made the difference between using the old grille or buying a new one. It gave me a chance to repair each one, then weld them back in.
Finally, the motor was ready for me to pick up and assemble. Of course, with the assembly of the motor, all component parts were also rebuilt. All through the restoration, no portion that needed anything was overlooked. All seals and bearings were taken care of.
A number of shafts were grooved where the grease seals ride. I had a machine shop build them and turn them back down to standard size.
The belt pulley was with the tractor, but was completely deteriorated, and had just part of the original material left that makes up the pulley. It looked like plain cardboard in layers. I used hardboard to replace it. I roughed out enough rings to make up the pulley width. After the LA was running, I used an auto body sander to cut it down to the size and shape of the original pulley. I used a wood lathe tool to cut the inside out as the tractor was running.
Each of the rear rims had holes rusted in about four places. I wanted to retain the original rims as the lugs on the new ones were not the same. I went to the scrap iron pile and found a rim with nearly the same design. By cutting sections out of the original rims, and the same from the junk rims, I was able to save my rims. I fit and welded sections in and ground the welds down. It turned out well enough so painting was all that was needed, no filler at all.
I spent nearly a year, part time, on this unit, but feel it was worth it. I'm not much for drinking coffee or playing cards, which I don't condemn, but being retired, I feel this is a worthwhile and satisfying hobby that leaves me with something to show for my time.
Now, I'm restoring a 1926 John Deere 'D' spoker. I hope it turns out as nicely as the LA and gives me the same satisfaction of doing something good with my time.