This is one of my tractor stories, the subject is a 1969 John Deere 3020 diesel row crop. which I purchased in its work clothes on Valentine’s Day in 2014. This particular unit had been a one-owner tractor until two weeks before I purchased it. When I discovered it sitting on a used equipment lot, it had a 3-point blade mounted on the rear and a John Deere 148 loader up front. I bought the entire package, removed and sold the loader and began a restoration process which would cover the next year and a half. I had the advantage of having a retired John Deere mechanic, Rod Mack, as a close friend, and he inspired and guided me.
The end result has been my pride and joy to this day. Anything mechanical which needed attention received it. With only 3,200 original hours on the tachometer and having been meticulously maintained by its former owner, an onion farmer north of Ontario, Oregon, this iconic Deere soon ran like a new one and still does! Beyond the mechanical improvements, came a fresh paint job. My son, Kelly, a professional bodyman and painter by profession, put to work his magic on all the tin work, and I cleaned and painted the remaining parts and components. The inside of the hood, interior of the battery boxes, and the underside of the canopy were Rhino lined for protection and to reduce vibration. And, of course, Kelly topped off his handiwork with clear coating!
Since 2015, I have installed a new radiator and a new clutch, again with Rod Mack’s direction and input. So, this serial number 125377 is nearly new again! What has always impressed me about this second generation of New Generation Deeres are the mechanical improvements over the earlier Deere tractors, the hydraulic power steering and brakes, the easy shifting, the operator comfort, the draft controlled 3-point hitch, the stylish design, the advanced engine features, the easily adjusted tread width, and so on. This particular tractor and its bigger brother, the 4020, farmed America for many years during the last century and still are favorites on farms today. But, the 3020 is my favorite because of its handy size and adaptability. It handles light, medium, and heavy duty work as well.
My Dad, who farmed most of his adult life, had a sincere wish to own a 3020 before he retired, but he was never able to afford it. Hence, when I retired as a secondary school teacher in 2005, I made a resolution to purchase one in his honor. Dad could have put this beauty to productive use, for he really needed such a fantastic machine. But as its owner, I feel a sense of pride, and it kindles fond memories of my growing up days on the farm every time I fire it up! I am proud to enter it in parades, displays, and tractor pulls and to educate young and old alike regarding this tractor’s unique legacy and contributions to American agricultural history. Sitting in the seat always brings a smile to my face!
Gayle R. Eaton
If you would like to submit a story with photo(s) about an experience with your tractor, interesting facts about its history, or a restoration project, please go to Tractor Story Submissions. If your story is picked to appear on the blog you will receive a FREE Steiner hat. Some stories will also go on to be published in our quarterly magazine. We look forward to hearing your story!