RESTORING My JOHN DEERE MODEL BR

By Staff
article image

RR 6, Box 167, Frankfort, Indiana 46041

This will probably sound like a broken record and will apply to
most of the readers of Gas Engine Magazine who restore a
tractor, gas engine, or whatever, regardless of what make or model
it is.

As a railroader and a farmer combined, I had to have dependable
equipment. For tractors I selected John Deere. Those that just got
old while I was using them included one each of 1944 and 1951 Model
A, 1939 and 1944 Model B, a 1944 Model AR, and the ‘new’
1954 Model 60. A few others were sold and scrapped.

I began taking the old ‘AR’ to shows around 1970. There
just were no other Model AR tractors in the area.

My first ‘restore’ job was a ‘basket case’ Model
G. I bought it in the fall of 1973 and rebuilt it during the winter
and spring. It was one of the last open front Model G tractors
built, being number 12060. It was built during the last week of
October, 1941.

In February, 1983, I bought a 1937 Model A, running. Several
months and dollars later I had it completely restored to the same
condition as my original 1937 Model A, except that I had a new
block and a complete set of new tires.

In May, 1983, I bought a 1937 Model B from a former
neighbor’s widow. I had it cleaned and painted on-the-spot and
took it to a show right there. It looks and runs perfect, but I
have purchased some $400.00 worth of parts to put on it to make it
‘like new’. That made me a set of all three open front
models.

In the 1960’s I sold oats to a farmer who had an old Model
BR. Somehow I fell in love with that little fellow and quietly
hunted for one. There just were none around.

Early in November, 1984, my Gas Engine Magazine arrived
listing two ‘BR’ tractors for sale. One was in Ohio, some
150-175 miles away. I called him, but his was sold and he had not
yet got his copy of GEM. I called the other man, made an
appointment to go see it the next day. When I arrived, he started
it up. It ran, but ever so badly. I bought it. On the 8th I went up
and got it. (It was only about 55 miles up a four lane
highway.)

It was all painted up. The paint job matched its running. The
inside of the fenders, under the platform, and half the flywheel
got missed. The flywheel was half off. The tinwork was in excellent
shape except that someone had gotten a new electric drill for
Christmas at some time or other and tried it out on the fenders!
The backs of the fenders were quite bent up. The foot brake was
rusted tight, so some owner along the way must have lived in hilly
ground and used wagons, pick-up truck bumbers, stumps, and trees to
get it stopped.

The first thing I did was to remove the crank case drain plug.
Then I removed the top crank case cover and pawed the oil over the
drain plug hole and pushed it down through the hole with my index
finger into a pile under the tractor. Then I washed out the crank
case with gasoline. I filled it with a mixture of diesel fuel and
used auto crank case oil to splash and flush out the oil lines. I
checked the bearings, which were tight. It had real good
compression. I tightened the flywheel, rebuilt the carburetor, had
the magneto rebuilt, got new spark plug wires and compression
release cocks, and started up the tractor. It still ran badly. A
new oil pressure gauge in place of the little pipe plug showed the
pressure to be a bit high. The tractor started extremely easily,
but I just could not smooth out the idle.

All the neighbors heard it start up. It sounded like a 1927
Model D. It had the remains of the original B-773-R muffler on it
with a two-foot section of Chevrolet tail pipe on it, sticking up.
I ordered a new B-773-R from our local John Deere dealer. When it
came I asked him what that cute little thing was. ‘Your new
muffler,’ he said. I put it on sticking up, like the A, B, G,
and all the rest.

Our son’s father-in-law had a picture of a Model BO, which
he sent up for me to look at. It showed the muffler sticking down,
so I did a 180 degree turn. What’s good for the BO is good for
the BR. In prior years I had seen a total of three BO, six BR, and
two Lindemann Crawlers. I had photographed two BR and two BO
tractors, and hunting these photos I found three mufflers sticking
down, and one BR with a welded-on upright pipe. My 1985 show visits
revealed the mufflers sticking in every direction except back. Two
had the correct muffler on. All had the remains of B-773-R mufflers
with various inventions applied. One Lindemann Crawler had a long
curved pipe welded on which stuck front and curved down onto the
front cross member which replaced the front axle of a BR or BO
tractor.

My new BR is a 1944 model, serial number 333353. During that
year there were just 1063 of them built, being numbers 333,156 to
334,218 inclusive. Also mine has a dealer’s name plate rivetted
on the tool box. It was sold by George White & Sons, Limited,
of London, Ontario, Canada, and is stamped ‘1944.’

I removed the wheels so I could paint the inside of the fenders
and the inside of the wheels. I removed the foot brake pedal,
cleaned it, greased it, and put it back on, complete with new
cotters and bolts. I removed the drawbar, painted and applied new
bolts. I removed the hood, and gas tank. I painted the inside of
the hood, and all around the gas tank, added a new cut-off valve
and sediment bowl, and new gas line. Then a set of decals from Jack
Maple were applied. The air cleaner was dismantled and cleaned and
painted. New hoses and clamps were applied.

At the Tipton, Indiana show I bought a reprint of an original
operator’s manual. Looking through it I found that the rear
wheels were on backwards. I knew the lugs were on the inside and
one valve was on the inside. I also found that the B-773-R muffler
was supposed to stick front on Model BR and down on the Model BO,
so I made another 90 degree about-face with the muffler. I removed
those heavy cast iron rear wheels and turned them around so the
lugs are on the outside where they are supposed to be. I applied
one rim and tire. It fit perfect, but on the other one I had to
drill the rim on the other side and plug the old valve hole so the
valves would be on the outside.

The cast clutch disc was all cracked up, so I got a new one. The
facings were like new. Then I added a crankshaft gasket on the
flywheel side, put a bottom in the tool box, removed the
‘Fordson’ seat and installed a proper seat that had come on
my 1937 Model A. Then it was time to put all of the cleaned,
repaired, and painted parts together again.

The tractor still has 5.50×16 front implement tires on and
over-size 12×26 rear tires on it. That is a winter-time job.

I might add that the governor housing needed every shaft, pin,
ball, bushing, etc. in it. Also it was packed and crusted with
you-name-it.

The tractor now looks like a brand new one, but when I started
it up I just could not get the idle smoothed out. Our local John
Deere dealer told me how to test John Deere carburetors. I screwed
the idle jet all the way in. Then I took it all the way out. Then I
held my finger on the hole tight, and in all these positions there
was no difference in the idle performance. A new carburetor made it
run like new.

Then the radiator capI had an extra one. I used a new gasket and
baffle plate in it.

I might add that the BR, BO, and the Lindemann Crawlers were all
numbered in the same series. The years of production were from 1935
through 1947, and the serial numbers were 325,000 to 337,514 for a
total of 12,2515 tractors. As the model year usually changed around
November 1, my BR may have actually been built in late 1943.

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