Twisted Crankshaft ‘D’ John Deere

By Staff
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No, it's not a 'D' John Deere with a Titan engine in it, but it runs like one.

R.R.2, Box 111 Hillsboro, Kansas 67063.

Having grown up on a farm with the familiar 2-cylinder popping,
Wilbert K. Bartel thought it would be humorous relief to change the
tone of the D’s exhaust.

A 200 HP, type S. I. De Lavergne engine inspired him to convert
a 2-cylinder John Deere to a 360-degree firing order. He did just
that some five years ago in his machine shop near Hillsboro,

The guinea pig selected for the project was a styled D purchased
from a friend at an affordable price. This tractor was definitely
not in showroom condition. The head, block and radiator had
suffered from severe frost cracks.

On the inside, Bartel found well burned valves, worn bearings
and pistons with at least three-sixteenths-inch clearance, and an
oil pump drawing from several inches of sludge. The rest of the
tractor was in the condition you would expect when there are boots
in each tire.

The crankshaft and camshaft were removed from the tractor.
Bartel began the modifying process by cutting the crankshaft at two
places with an oxygen cutting torch, allowing the center diagonal
to be removed. Then one-half of the crankshaft was rotated 180
degrees, the throws were put together, and then welded back
together on a specially fabricated jig. Additional counter weights
were added to provide proper balance for the pistons which now
traveled together back and forth.

To provide proper valve timing, the camshaft was cut between the
two sets of lobes, indexed with a 90-degree twist and welded.
Ignition timing was adjusted by modifying the Edison Splitdorf
magneto to provide spark on every crankshaft revolution.

Bartel’s intended result became realitya smooth running D
with a different sound. How smooth the modified tractor ran was
readily apparent when belted to a large Baker fan. This D can
easily pick up the load with minimal belt whip and jerk. Other
D’s nearly jerk the fan off the ground with the belt whip
generated by the uneven firing (provided the clutch can be fully
engaged without stalling).

Two years later, Bartel made more modifications to the tractor.
A pair of used aluminum high-compression 0.90 inch oversize pistons
were put in. Though the cylinders did not even clean up after the
bore job because of excessive cylinder wear, the piston fit
improved dramatically. The standard sized piston rings, new when
assembled the first time, were rebuilt and used again. Rebuilding
involved welding additional length to the ring to reduce the
endgap, then peening on the inside to provide proper tension.

Bartel also added a cold intake manifold and dual exhaust, which
provides more ‘bark’ for the 60-plus HP at standard RPM
‘bite.’ In its modified form, this D has plowed many acres
in high gear with a 3-bottom, 14-inch number 55BH John Deere

Bartel’s tractor is an attraction and is fully demonstrated
annually at the Wheat Heritage Engine and Threshing Company Show in
Goessel, Kansas. The 1993 show dates are August 6-8. Goessel is
located in South Central Kansas, about 15 miles north of Newton on
Highway 15 and about 50 miles north of Wichita.

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