Home Grown: Building a Scale Replica John Deere D

Intricate scale models, including a replica John Deere D and a Rumely Oil Pull, sprout from scavenged parts and collector ingenuity.

| March 2008

When Allen McCloskey decided he wanted a scale replica John Deere tractor, he got it the old-fashioned way: He built it himself. "I sent for a pamphlet advertised in an engine magazine," Allen says. "It was from an old fellow out in Nebraska or Iowa who had built a mini John Deere Model D. That's what got me started."

Allen's 1/2-scale replica of a 1936 John Deere Model D was completed in 1995 after five years of parts-gathering and about four years of work. Special touches give his project an authentic touch.

"My radiator is from an unstyled John Deere B. It has the cast iron tank on top with the cast letters spelling out John Deere," he says. "I think that really makes it stand out." He did a bit of fine-tuning to make the radiator look right. "It had the fill cap over to the side on account of the steering shaft coming down across it," he explains. "I didn't have the original cap, which is kind of hard to find, so I patched the side hole and made a smaller cap to go in the middle of the radiator, like the full sized Model D used to have."

The original bottom tank, which was quite deep, was made of cast iron, and was cracked. Allen made a new tank out of 3-inch channel iron. He welded a lip around it, boxed it in and bolted it to the bottom of the radiator frame. "It sealed up and never leaked a drop," he says.

The engine, a John Deere 14 hp Type LUC, came from a 12A combine. "I used that engine because it was a 2-cylinder and looked like an old John Deere engine," he says. The engine was mounted vertically in the combine but for his replica Allen wanted to put it in a horizontal position, the same as in the John Deere D. "I ground, sawed and broke the bell-housing/clutch housing off the engine to make room to mount a bigger flywheel on the side," he says. Since the engine was in a horizontal position, the oiling system needed a new sump for the oil to accumulate and the carburetor had to be changed to a horizontal draft.

The transmission is from an International Harvester 303 combine. The man who gave it to him said it jumped out of second gear as he was going across the field. "When I got home and took off the top, I could see all the teeth were worn off at a bevel on second gear," Allen says. "However, since I'm running it backwards, it's the same as brand new teeth." The clutch is a V-belt drive and the clutch parts work by tightening the belt using a clutch lever. The gear drive goes into the transmission through the side. The transmission is in the front half of the box and the differential is in the back half. "I changed the shifting mechanism so it would shift at the back like the old Model D actually did," he says.