Box 5032, Steamboat Springs, Colorado 80477
Reprinted with permission from the 'November 1988 issue of Green Magazine, Bee, 'Nebraska.
John Deere #G6990 left the factory June 15, 1938 for the Kansas City area, where it was bought by a Mr. Lyle Rule who brought it to Routt County in Colorado the following year. Sometime following WWII a local blacksmith, Ray Witherspoon, built a ten-foot wide snowplow attachment for it. The tractor served three more owners before being taken out of service about seven years ago. Meanwhile I had been looking for a two-cylinder John Deere not only to restore but to perform useful work such as plowing snow. Understandably I was most interested when a friend told me of #G6990 abandoned on a ranch 15 miles from my home. I checked it over and while it was in rough shape the engine would turn over and there were no major parts missing. I paid the owner $275 for it and set about getting it running.
The governor bearings had been getting no oil and had failed causing magneto shafts to break. This had to be repaired before it could run well enough to load on a flat-bed trailer and bring home to my garage. This was October, 1986. I started work on it April of 1987 when the weather warmed up and the garage was comfortable to work in. All parts were removed, checked over, cleaned, repaired or replaced as necessary. The engine was in good shape though an inch of sludge, water and loose ball bearing had collected in the crankcase, so thick that the oil wouldn't drain out. Of course this was cleaned out along with various other 'horror stories' which were taken care of. For example, the flywheel and clutch drive disc had been installed a few splines off. The resulting imbalance caused the whole tractor to vibrate badly.
I worked all summer on the tractor in my spare time. No sandblasting was done though all parts to be painted were thoroughly wire brushed. Purists may object to (1) the toolbox, (2) possibly incorrect decals, (3) the small gasoline tank and three-way valve not connected and (4) my use of True-Value Medium Green from spray cans rather than John Deere Green (more expensive but convenient for me and my work schedule and a close enough match for me). Keep in mind the end result of this project was not to be a showpiece but a working tractor. Along this line I'll mention that the intake and exhaust stacks had to be shortened to clear my garage door.
Work was completed October 10, 1987 with the installation of 'new' (used) rear wheels and tires from Goodman Tractor Supply of Lincoln, Nebraska. Their cost came to nearly half of the $1600 in materials I put into the tractor. Goodman also supplied a replacement governor case, the original having been damaged due to the problems with the governor shaft and bearings. I was fortunate to get an old Edison-Splitdorf magneto from a local rancher who gave it to me having no further use for it.
Once the tractor was in order I commenced work on the snowplow which involved mostly welding and repairing worn parts and painting. The plow is raised by a one-way hydraulic cylinder; the pump is driven by chain from the power-take-off. The plow was ready for our first major snowfall November 10, 1987. From December 23 through January our area received record breaking snowfalls. This meant clearing a quarter mile of driveway for myself and two neighbors 14 times in January or about every other day. The tractor kept up this performance through the rest of the winter without a breakdown.
One would think that after such a workout the tractor would get a well deserved summer's rest. No way! I removed the plow and used the tractor to tow a wagonload of 4-H youngsters in our 4th of July parade. I'm scheduled to do the same for our county fair parade in September. I'm pleased to have been able to restore this tractor which is not only a living piece of Routt County history but a useful one as well.