Working on Old Iron: A John Deere Repair Man

Working memories of a John Deere mechanic in the late 1940s.


| October 2007


In 1949 I started work as a mechanic at the John Deere dealership in Mediapolis, Iowa. My first job was helping correct the end-play of the crankshaft on a Model A tractor.

One big repair project was replacement of a broken axle on a Model A that had a mounted 226 corn picker. The elevator had to be removed, transmission oil drained and the hydraulic system with the PTO shaft (that was a heavy unit) taken off to gain access to the final drive gear. The axle nut cotter key was removed and the nut taken off. The broken part was then removed using a wedge and a sledgehammer. The owner had gone to Waterloo to purchase a new axle. On his return, it was installed and the parts were replaced. All that took place in the middle of a muddy cornfield!

One day I took a new Model 60 and an automatic wire tie baler to a farm north of town for a demonstration. The prospect was a preferred customer, and he induced me to bale straw for him that afternoon. He returned after the first load and wanted the bales lightened, since 110 pounds was too much. The field was baled and the live PTO proved to be a great help. When I was leaving, he said to just leave the machine and he came in the next day and paid for it.

In 1949 I attended the John Deere service school in Moline, Ill. One of the main subjects discussed was the Model M series' hydraulics system. We were told about a problem with starting a new Model R tractor. Since this was John Deere's first diesel, a compression release had not been built in and the injection rack stuck open. In a test, the engine ran wild until the flywheel exploded. They told us one piece knocked a Model A off its wheels, one piece went through the roof and another piece through the floor. A new flywheel was cast, a compression release installed and the test then continued.

On the final day of the service school we toured the John Deere Harvester Works. While we were there they made a special run of five horse-drawn mowers and a special run of hillside combines with levelers on both sides (the design had been changed to levelers on one side only).

Years later, when I was a petroleum salesman, the new owner of a John Deere dealership told me our oil was no good! He showed me a head that was loaded with an oily deposit. I took the air cleaner cup off and showed him it had not been cleaned and was caked full of dirt and the tractor was running on full choke. The conversation ended there! FC 






SUBSCRIBE TO FARM COLLECTOR TODAY!

Farm Collector April 16Farm Collector is a monthly magazine focusing on antique tractors and all kinds of antique farm equipment. If it's old and from the farm, we're interested in it!

Save Even More Money with our SQUARE-DEAL Plan!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our SQUARE-DEAL automatic renewal savings plan. You'll get 12 issues of Farm Collector for only $24.95 (USA only).

Or, Bill Me Later and send me one year of Farm Collector for just $29.95.




Facebook Pinterest YouTube


Copyright 2018, All Rights Reserved
Ogden Publications, Inc., 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, Kansas 66609-1265