Restoring a John Deere Model A

Son restores his father's 1941 John Deere Model A

| January 1999

The cadence of an approaching two-cylinder John Deere tractor is a legendary sound. Sometimes it's a "pop-pop"; sometimes it's a deeper sound nearer to a roar. Cal Morton's JD Model A is an example of the latter. 

Morton, who lives in Fairfax, Mo. (population: about 800), is the proud owner of a 1942 Model A. His father, the late Ken Morton, bought it new in the fall of '41. Cal rescued the tractor from a spot behind a barn near Rockford, Ill., where it had been parked since 1980.

"I went back and pulled it out of a weedy fencerow," says Cal. "Right off I noticed that bees had built a nest between the battery box and the dash gauges. But some things still looked good."

"The A was the only piece of new machinery that Dad ever bought, paying $1,100 for it. He used it for all his farming operations," he says. "Then, in '49, he bought a Minneapolis-Moline tractor which was somewhat more powerful, and had all the hydraulics on it. So the A was shifted to lighter duties, including loader work, pulling wagons and the like. That's probably a reason why it didn't have to be rebored, which is usually the case."

Cal's father had told him the A was one of the first two six-gear Model A's shipped to Rockford. Ken Morton had bought one of the two from the Pagel & Kleickman dealership there. It was factory equipped with an electric starter and lights. Before 1941, the A had four gears, with electrical accessories first offered as factory options in 1940.

"I'd like to find its Rockford twin to possibly restore," says Cal.