John Deere's Oldest Tractor Returns Home

Circa-1918 4-cylinder Dain All-Wheel-Drive tractor put on permanent display at John Deere Collectors Center

| June 2004

The only complete 4-cylinder Dain All-Wheel-Drive tractor, John Deere’s oldest known, was welcomed back into the Deere & Co. family.

The Dain, which pre-dates John Deere’s first 2-cylinder tractor (the 1923 Model D), was put on permanent display at the John Deere Collectors Center in Moline, Ill., March 13, 2004.

“The response has been wonderful!” says Brian Holst of the Collectors Center. “Collectors who didn’t understand the significance of this tractor have been surprised since this tractor was made locally and has a lot of heritage in common with this area.”

Now that the Dain is parked at the Collectors Center, the tractor’s special place in history can be shared.

One owner to the next

This particular Dain tractor’s history started like any other. Emil Obitz of Stockton, Minn., bought the tractor from a John Deere dealer in Winona, Minn., in 1918. He used it for about a decade until he traded it for a Model D in 1928. The receiving dealership’s owner, in turn, loaned the Dain to his brother, who used it for a year then parked it in the trees because of an engine malfunction.

In 1930, Morris and Erwin Timm, who lived in rural Minnesota, purchased the Dain. The Timms bought it for the tractor’s chains, with which they wanted to repair a feed mill. Evidently, the brothers never got around to using the chains, and the Dain languished outdoors until 1962 when Frank Hansen purchased it for $1,000.

Hansen had known about the tractor’s whereabouts as a boy, and after he returned from military service, he researched and confirmed the special nature of the Dain. Hansen then restored the neglected Dain tractor from pure rust and displayed it at antique tractor shows until he died about a year ago.

Charles Tucker
3/25/2011 1:24:18 PM

And the The Northern Illinois Steam Power Association's tractor is know to be an earlier serial number than the one owned by John Deere.

Kirk Hoffman
3/15/2011 7:42:11 AM

Interesting article about the Dain tractor. The Northern Illinois Steam Power Association has a Dain that they drive daily at their show. It is quite an interesting tractor.