Friday Tractor: A Rare Find

Friday tractor known for speed, unique design.

| July 2014

Alan Burden doesn’t have to look far for plain old-fashioned fun. Driving his 1945 Friday O-48 tractor down U.S. Hwy. 34 from his home in New London, Iowa, to the Midwest Old Settlers & Threshers Reunion grounds in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, about 15 minutes away is about as good as it gets.

“It’s a four-lane highway, and in my rear mirror I’ll see cars a half-mile back pull over into the other lane to pass,” he says. “They’re pretty surprised when it takes them a half-mile or mile to actually do it,” he says. That’s because top road speed for his 10-forward-speed tractor can hit 55 miles per hour, Alan says, as measured by his GPS. Some say 60 mph.

Alan’s interest in old iron surfaced when he was in high school. His dad, Ken, was in the process of selling the family farm. “My dad started farming with a 1937 John Deere B. It was just sitting out in the pasture rusting, and I asked if he would keep it off the auction,” Alan recalls. “‘For you, yeah, you can have that thing,’ he said. So I restored it as an FFA project, and that got me started in old iron.”

Alan didn’t do much with it for the next 20 years. “By then it had frozen up again, and my dad had retired and he and my uncle decided to restore it again,” Alan says. “That started them into restoring tractors. Dad is 83 and still restoring.”

After the B was restored the second time, Alan decided to try tractor-pulling with it. “At the first tractor pull I ended up taking second place,” he says, “even though the B stalled within 2 feet, because there were only two tractors in my class.”

Then he wanted to hop the tractor up but his dad wanted to keep it original. So Alan tracked down a 1938 John Deere Model B to use as a puller. In the process, he ran into the Friday tractor.