When my friend Stacy Stimson retired from our local police force, his son knew just what to get to honor his father: a restored 4020 John Deere Diesel. The goal: to find and restore the original family tractor in complete secrecy. Here’s how he pulled it off.
Stacy and his son Brandon Stimson are both police officers in my small town. They’ve been friends of our family for a long time. Years ago, when Stacy’s father (a retired farmer) passed away, my dad helped them sell the family’s 4020 John Deere. At the time, no one in the family was interested in using it at the farm, so it made sense to sell the valuable tractor. A few years later, though, Stacy and Brandon began to wonder what had happened to the tractor their family had known for so long. Brandon just knew that finding this tractor again would be the perfect gift, so he called my dad for help.
Amazingly, my dad remembered exactly who had purchased the 4020 John Deere all those years ago. Brandon got in touch with the farmer and tried his best to persuade him to sell the tractor back to the Stimson family. Unfortunately for Brandon, though, the farmer had fallen in love with the faithful 4020 and wouldn’t part with it. Time for plan B.
Time was running short when Brandon found a 4020 Diesel with a syncro-shift transmission at an auction sale in Indiana. The tractor was in excellent mechanical condition, with a full overhaul completed just 300 hours ago. Cosmetically, though, the tractor was a different story. Brandon brought the tractor home with just one month to go before his dad’s retirement party.
In order to finish the project on time, Brandon enlisted the help of a friend who paints cars professionally. (I wish I had a friend like this!). The two of them tore the tractor down to the bare frame and meticulously restored every square inch. As the day of the retirement party drew near, Brandon and his friend worked even harder to get the tractor done in time. To make things even more difficult, Brandon couldn’t let his Dad know why he was spending so many evenings in the shop. His plan required complete secrecy – and it was worth it!
The day of the party, Brandon rushed to finish off the tractor. A few small details were missing – the headlights, for example, were on but weren’t wired yet. It looked fabulous, though, so Brandon set off on a one-man parade to the party, driving the 4020.
Brandon arrived just in time. The look on his father’s face when he realized the old 4020 was for him was priceless.
In the following days, Brandon took the tractor back to his home to finish off those final details – but before long, it was back at Stacy Stimson’s farm where it belonged. Stacy is already planning on putting lots of hours on the tractor in the field this next summer.
I’m so thankful to live in a community with Stacy and Brandon as our police officers. Way to go, Brandon, for honoring your dad with such a special gift!