Restorer Finds A Pair Of A’s

By Staff
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#451139 'Before'.
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#451139 'After'.
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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!

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