Gathering of the Green: John Deere 101

Focus on education sets Gathering of the Green apart

| March 2012

Looking to do a bit of post-graduate work in antique iron? If you’re a fan of the John Deere line, your first stop should be the Gathering of the Green. Set for March 14-17, 2012 in Davenport, Iowa, the winter conference offers an impressive lineup of more than 60 workshops and related activities.

Open to anyone (the Gathering is not affiliated with any one club or organization), the event has been held every other year since 2000. From the beginning, the organizers put a high priority on education. “When we put together our mission statement, we had to really think about what it was we were trying to do,” explains Ken Reese, conference co-chairman. “Basically, we want to help people preserve old iron, and education is a big part of that.”

The workshops initially concentrated on basic technical topics for the restorer and collector. Over the years, the curriculum has expanded to include historical content. “That’s growing in popularity,” Ken says. And where discussion once focused on tractors only, this year’s workshops include implements, barns and snowmobiles, as well as Deere & Co. history.

Workshops for every interest

This year’s offering covers engine heads and cooling systems, Powr-Trol systems, magnetos, LP valves, carburetors, distributor ignitions, electrical systems, sheet metal, power steering, adhesives and sealants, clutch repair, steering and hydraulics. Seminars on specific models run the gamut from the Waterloo Boy to New Generation 4- and 6-cylinder tractors. Other sessions focus on broad topics: 100 years of the full-line John Deere company, assessing a 2-cylinder tractor for restoration, plow bottom options, sickle mowers, toys, 2-cylinder crawlers, and lawn and garden tractors.

“The depth and breadth of the offering can be overwhelming,” admits Tony Knobbe, workshop committee chairman. Perennial favorites blend neatly with new topics, many of which are suggested by conference attendees. “We try to cover a lot of different abilities and areas of interest,” he says.

One of the most popular workshops is a demonstration of a tractor and plow set up for fieldwork. “We’ll have a tractor and a plow there, and a speaker with a wireless mic,” Tony says. “People stand right there and see how the tractor and plow should be set up. You can stand up in front of a group and tell people something, but when you show them, they remember it.”