John Deere Red

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Father-and-son collectors Walter Keller and Bruce Keller get a kick out of this John Deere, which got its red glow at the factory.

If it looks like a duck and it quacks like a duck, well, then, it just about has to be a duck, doesn’t it? All right, so if a tractor looks like a 1937 John Deere BI and sounds and drives exactly like one, then that’s what it has to be, no matter what color it’s carrying. Correct?

Correct. Walter Keller, and his son, Bruce, Forest Junction, Wis., believe this is the sole tractor ever to leave the Deere & Company factory painted a bright, non-John Deere red.

“This tractor was painted red at the request of the buyer, the Waterloo, Iowa, Parks Department,” Walter says. “They apparently wanted their tractor to be painted in a more visible color than the usual green.'”

Incidentally, Walter’s father, who also farmed, started out as a JD dealer back in 1925. Walter and Bruce got serious about restoring and collecting in 1979. Since then, they’ve acquired more than 300 tractors, close to half of which they’ve restored.

“We still enjoy doing this, although sometimes you wonder,” Walter says with a smile. “For instance, yesterday we spent more than two hours just taking off one wheel.

“It’s the challenges that make this work interesting. First, there’s the hunt for a really rare or early production model. Then there are all the variations from year to year in a certain model to consider.

“And so, even if it may take us months to restore a really tough one, we find the restoration and ownership really satisfying.” FC

For more information: Walter and Bruce Keller, PO Box 146, Kaukauna, WI 54123; (920) 989-1322.

Chester Peterson Jr. is a freelance writer and photographer specializing in agriculture, aviation, business and computers. He is the author of five books, including John Deere New Generation Tractors.

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