Top Grades: John Deere 4020 Restoration

1 / 6
Joe Swope's grandson, Will, restored this 1965 John Deere Model 4020 diesel tractor for his high school senior project.
2 / 6
The Swopes' restored 1965 John Deere Model 4020 diesel tractor from the rear.
3 / 6
A gleaming paint job finished the project.
4 / 6
The Swopes' restored 1965 John Deere Model 4020 diesel tractor.
5 / 6
The Swopes' restored 1965 John Deere Model 4020 diesel tractor.
6 / 6
M&W Gear, Gibson City, Ill., manufactured the tractor’s original aftermarket turbocharger; the Swopes replaced that with a new unit.

This 1965 John Deere Model 4020 diesel was purchased from a farmer who used it for crops and mowing.

My son, Matt, and my grandson, Will, learned of this tractor and heard that it might be for sale. The farmer sold the tractor to us on the condition that we would restore it for show purposes.

At that time, Will was a junior at Columbus (Ind.) North High School, studying agriculture and participating in the local FFA and 4-H clubs. We started restoration of the tractor late in 2006 and worked on it off-and-on during 2007. Sometime that year, Will decided he’d adopt the tractor as his senior class project, a requirement for high school graduation.

All of the sheet metal was reworked and painted by John Gassaway of Gassaway Body Shop, Taylorsville, Ind. Matt, an experienced spray painter and mechanic, painted the rest of the tractor, including front and rear wheel rims.

The tractor had a non-functioning aftermarket turbocharger manufactured by M&W Gear, Gibson City, Ill. We knew what parts we needed to rebuild the turbocharger but we were unable to locate them, even on the Internet. We took the turbocharger to Bill Robbins of Robbins Turbo­chargers Service, Columbus, Ind., and he built a turbocharger using Air Research and Garrett components.

The tractor had been used on a farm for years, but had been well maintained. The engine was checked along with the fuel system and all was found to be in very good condition. The transmission and rear end components were also checked and were in good condition. We did replace the wire harness plus hoses and tubing. There were three or four oil leaks; we located and corrected them.

Will received an “Excellent” rating for his senior project. We’ve taken the tractor to a handful of local shows and received many compliments. FC

For more information: J.A. Swope, 3850 Oriole Dr., Columbus, IN 47203; (812) 376-0006;

Farm Collector Magazine
Farm Collector Magazine
Dedicated to the Preservation of Vintage Farm Equipment