My Wife Saw It as Junk!

By Staff
1 / 3
2 / 3
3 / 3

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Gas Engine Magazine
Gas Engine Magazine
Preserving the History of Internal Combustion Engines