John Deere New Generation Tractors
Facts you might not know about John Deere New Generation tractors
The first 3010 and 4010 tractors to exit the Deere & Company assembly line. Owned by Kenny smith, Caldona, Ohio, each carries serial number 1000.
When the John Deere Company "New Generation" tractors were introduced on Aug. 30, 1960, in Dallas, Texas, it was a groundbreaking event. Why? Because the New Generation tractors didn't exhibit the usual "evolutionary" modifications of new models. Instead, these were truly "revolutionary" tractors.
The story behind that revolution is detailed in John Deere New Generation Tractors. Co-author Rod Beemer and I found tracing the history of these great tractors both interesting and exciting.
In essence, what these tractors did for the tractor manufacturing industry was similar to raising the high jump bar to 10 feet. Here are some things we learned:
- The decision to replace the venerable two-cylinder tractors was made in 1953. Secrecy equaled only by development of the atomic bomb in WWII prevailed for seven years.
Now, seven years may seem like a long time, but to develop an entirely new line of tractors, it was one heckuva feat.
A remote, empty Waterloo, Iowa, supermarket housed the initial development work. It was known to engineers selected for the project as the "meat market." Entrance was on a need-to-know basis, and even some high-level executives were turned away at the door.
- A critically important element: determining and fixing of the center line dimensions of the block. A miscue and it would have been a $70 million mistake in today's dollars, not to mention loss of months of valuable time.
How good a job did the New Generation engineers do? Deere & Company is still using those same fixed-center dimensions in today's tractor engines.
- Gear design was time consuming in those days before computerization. Even an engineer strong in math might require eight hours to do the calculations to eight decimal places.
One New Generation engineer decided that, after working all day, he'd drive three hours to spend his nights at the Moline, Ill., headquarters trying to see if a computer could be harnessed for this precise work.
He was right: it could, and in only 15 minutes. So, the first computer program ever written for gear design was a result of the New Generation push.
- An early model located a PTO control lever near the console at the left side. The lever was slightly curved at the top to let the driver's hand clear the console.
All was fine until a company executive dismounted from the left side, hooked his suit coat over the protruding PTO lever, and vented the jacket clear to the collar. The engineers followed his "suggestion" to move the lever.
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