A Custom Motor Home From a John Deere Model A

Keeping up with the hillbillies is a full-time, fun job in this custom motor home.


| November 2014



Sign on the hillbilly motor home

In case you were wondering about the next meal...

Photo by Leslie C. McManus

Motor homes are not typical fodder for Farm Collector. But then the custom “motor home” lovingly handcrafted by Lester and Linda Peters, Plainfield, Iowa, is not your typical motor home — unless you’re part packrat and part hillbilly. This one-of-a-kind rig fairly groans under the weight of down-home humor, old relics from the barn, cleverly repurposed parts and pieces, and a collection of what can only with great generosity be called taxidermy.

The motivation, Lester says tongue in cheek, was economy. “Grandma said, ‘I want a motor home,’” Lester explains. “Grandpa said, ‘We can’t afford one. I’ll just build one.’” And so he did.

A John Deere Model A

Old iron is literally the heart of the hillbilly motor home. Lester bought a 1947 John Deere Model A at an auction and built an 8-by-18-1/2-by-9-foot shell around it. “I had to look quite a while to find a tractor that looked awful but ran well,” he allows. The Model A was in good running condition when he got it but the clutch needed a little work. “After I bought it, I told them, ‘Now don’t you scrape any dirt off this tractor. I want it to be natural.’ It just kind of metastasized from there.”

The choice of a ’47 Model A may have actually simplified the design phase. “I always wanted to put it on a Roll-a-matic but this tractor was built just before that came out,” Lester says. “If I could have done that, I think I’d put it on one big tire and one small tire.”

It’s hard to say whether the motor home caused sleepless nights or merely fueled the fire. “Lester would lay awake at night, thinking of things to put on there,” Linda says. “Meanwhile, my brother would go to auctions and help look for specific things Lester needed.” Launched on April 1, 2004 (yes, really), the project looks complete today but Lester says otherwise. “Something like this never ends,” he says. “I still have some more ideas. And we get a lot of suggestions. Some you can use; some you can’t.”

On a rig that has a clearly marked “road-kill processing department,” a one-hole outhouse marked “men” on one side and “ladies” on the other and a “lizard” on a rotisserie that turns when the tractor moves forward, it’s hard to imagine what, exactly, would constitute an unusable idea. “Sometimes we get a little carried away,” Linda says with a smile. “I’m the chief instigator and enabler, but basically, we’re two warped minds.”