29331 Co. Rd. 2, St. Joseph, Minnesota 56374.
After reading stories for years I finally decided to send in one of my own.
I got started in tractor restoration when I was fourteen or fifteen. My best friend, Steve, purchased a 1940 John Deere B from my uncle, which we then restored together. I learned a lot from this project. Steve knew far more about tractors than I and he taught me a great deal. Even though we both grew up on farms, my knowledge about mechanical items was not as broad as his. After restoring the 1940 B, I wanted a tractor of my own. After some checking around I acquired a 1945 John Deere H. Again Steve and I restored this tractor with great enthusiasm. When this project was complete I realized the great cost involved when a tractor has starter, lights, generator, and hydraulics, as did the H. I began getting interested in the unstyled line of John Deere tractors. They didn't have starters, lights, generators-I continued to restore and work on seven unstyled John Deere A's and B's. This is where I will begin my story:
Today I am nineteen years old. About a year and a half ago I was with a few friends and our discussion drifted to John Deere tractors. One girl in the group (who was a friend of a friend) commented that a farm up north, which her father owns, had a couple John Deeres on it yet. I got her father's name and other necessary information so that I could contact him. The next few days I spent trying to get hold of this man. Finally, I talked to him. He said the tractors were John Deere but he did not know what model or year. I asked several other questions, but he had no idea what I was talking about. I asked him if they had spoked wheels, he said yes! But, he continued to say, they are the ones that farmers cut off and welded on rims for rubber tires. Well, cut offs or factory round, this bit of information gave me a general idea of vintage. I made an appointment to meet him at his work to go visit this abandoned farm.
On the way to the farm, all I could think about was an unstyled G. That's what I really wanted at the time, and still do. We arrived at the farm and both tractors were sitting in the front yard, out of sight of the road. My expectations were almost met. They were both unstyled A's, but one had factory round spokes on the rear! They were John Deere A; #451256 and #451139. I could not believe the close range of serial numbers. Both tractors were complete except for one magneto. The one had a stuck engine and the other one ran, or at least that is what I was told. We settled on a price and I agreed to pick them up the following weekend.
The next weekend my father and a friend of mine went to get the tractors. We had a 7? by 16 foot trailer. I knew it would be a tight fit as well as a heavy load, but that's life. We left home at noon, and drove for about an hour and a half drive. My intention was to get the tractor running that was supposed to run, pull the second tractor onto the trailer, drive on the first, tie everything down, and leave. Easy. Wrong! I started by getting the first tractor running. I put in water, cleaned up the magneto, added new plugs, checked the carburetor. Wait, the carburetor was rust, lots of rust, too much rust. After removing the carburetor from the non-running tractor I had enough parts to make a good one. Put gas in, and started to crank. The exhaust was rusted off at the manifold so I knew if and when it started it would be loud. After a couple more cranks it was running. This was a major accomplishment. The rest would be a piece of cake. Wrong!
We positioned the trailer to pull the other tractor onto it, hooked a chain to it, but the tractor would not move. After checking things over, the brakes on the stuck tractor were rusted solid. The brakes had to come off, easy enough. When pulling the tractor onto the trailer, I got it about halfway up the ramps and the running tractor died. It refused to start again. After using a come-along to complete getting the stuck tractor onto the trailer, I tried to get the other tractor to start. It popped right off, weird. We drove that tractor onto the trailer, tied everything down, and were ready to leave for home. My dad went to turn the outfit around and drove in their old garden. Since the place was abandoned everything was overgrown and the ground was also very soft from previous rains. After trying this, that, and the other thing we managed to get it out. By now it was long dark and of course we had not brought a flashlight.
I hopped in the truck and started out the driveway; I got off the narrow road just a bit and the soft ground pulled me right in. There we were, up to the truck and trailer axles in mud, pitch dark, and no flashlight. Ugh! Our only hope was to wake up that 53 year old tractor and convince it to pull us out. Again, it popped right off. I forgot to mention that the one rear tire had a hole in it; the more it was used, the worse it got. At this point it would not hold any air. We backed off the tractor, hooked it to the front of the truck, no luck. This outfit was stuck good. We hooked it up to the back of the trailer and managed to get it pulled back about six feet; enough so that when we tried to pull it from the front again it came out. We put the tractor back on the trailer and headed for home. The return trip was uneventful, but ended at 1:30 in the morning. What a long day!