john deere Archives - Antique Tractor Blog Skip to main content

John Deere AR and AO Tractors

For many years, John Deere produced the General Purpose (GP) tractor that, while somewhat successful, wasn’t all that John Deere had hoped for. Therefore, in 1934, they produced the John Deere A row crop tractor.

It wasn’t long until John Deere started producing variations on this popular tractor. This began with with AR, which is basically the standard version of the John Deere A. The company could use many of the same parts for the AR that they used on the A. The R in AR stands for regular.

The new AR tractor was used in small grain farms, and with a few modifications it was also suitable for orchards and groves. Demand was high enough that in June of 1935, an orchard-specific model of the A was introduced. This model was designated the AO.

RG. Rachel with the orchards

The “AR” was marketed for orchards and groves, as well as the small grain farm. Farmers purchasing a new “AR” tractor could purchase orchard fenders, differential brakes, a low air intake and a side discharge muffler to create a tractor that would better suit their needs and the conditions they worked in. Just a few months after the inception of the “AR”, though, in June of 1935, Deere and company made the decision to create an orchard-specific model of the tractor and tagged it the “AO”. The “AO” included low stacks and differential brakes as standard equipment. These tractors made it easier to order a tractor to suit orchard conditions and demonstrated to orchard and grove owners that Deere was producing a tractor aimed specifically at them. Eventually Deere produced the “AOS” which had a shortened wheelbase for better maneuverability.

Over the years, these A varieties were produced in both styled and unstyled versions. The following pictures are from a recent sale where I saw a few of A variations.

RG. John Deere AOS

RG. John Deere AO Unstyled

RG. John Deere AO Styled

Here’s a photo of the John Deere GPO:

Jun032016_8971

This is a John Deere BO. Unlike the John Deere AR and AO tractors, the BO and BR tractors were never styled, they were only available unstyled.

RG. John Deere AO Unstyled different headlights

These tractors are highly collectible. My favorite is the styled AO. What’s your favorite?

Family Farm and John Deere

2016-February-Photo-WinnerThe photo is of the Davenport Family Farm Barn which is a landmark in Hayesville, North Carolina. The tractor in the photo is a John Deere A that has been “resting” in front of the barn for several years. The Barn was built in 1952 and then restored in the early 2000’s by Bruce Davenport. Mr. Davenport stated that “lady liberty” was “rescued from somewhere that she did not need to be” and he then displayed her prominently at the Barn for all to enjoy. Not pictured in the photo are several adjacent Clay County government buildings recently constructed including the Courthouse, Jail, EMS, and Social Services buildings. Also not pictured is a busy road that passes by the Barn in which all passers by can enjoy the picturesque scene that invokes feelings of patriotism and gives a glimpse into the history of the area and it’s native mountain people.

 

Chris Payne
Hayesville, North Carolina

Snoose And Making Ditch Hay

Lohre

I grew up on a family farm in southwest Minnesota near Storden, and our most used and practical tractor was a 1959 John Deere 530. It has about 30 plus horsepower and this is right on the edge for enough baling horsepower, but we would occasionally use it to make some extra money baling roadditch hay all over our local area. This can be hairy work, and we had the narrow tricycle-type front end with two wheels close together, so running that type of tractor down a sloped ditch can be an exercise in foolish tragedy if one is not extremely careful. My wizened and oldest Uncle E had many years of experience however and he would normally be our driver for this dicey work. He made almost all his living corn shelling, trapping and hunting, and doing part-time work for other farmers and my Dad.

The reason I remember this tractor so well has to do with his use of the clutch. The 530 has a hand clutch so at times if the hay is too thick or you need to let the baler catch up you need to disengage the clutch, then you can proceed when the slug has gone through the baler. Anybody who has baled hay knows this drill. Because the baler needed all the RPMs and power available, if you just threw the clutch forward you would give quite a jolt to the kid on the bale rack (me). I remember many times thinking my Uncle E was purposely trying to break my neck with that clutch, and he also pushed the angle of slope to the very limits sometimes. I was about 12 or 13, and a new bale boy for him, and it’s like he was testing me, especially when I was four or five bales high trying to center a row. I did a lot of muttering in trying to keep up, but I also worked hard for him despite the grumbling and adventures, as I was keen to impress him and measure up.

I remember while working one hot August day, while we were changing out twine Uncle E offered me my first attempt at black Copenhagen snoose. Being a young pup of course I took the challenge, as he always had a chaw in and this seemed like normal adult working behavior. I’d been working about 15 minutes with that snoose in my mouth with the 530 making its distinctive pop as it ran its cycle in the background and I stacked the hay. The first thing I noticed changing was my hearing. Suddenly, the sounds of the baler and tractor seemed very heightened. I was a pure rookie of course and just didn’t know it yet, but my gills began to slowly turn green as I stacked the hay on the rack. By mistake– and because I took way too much snoose out of the tin– I started to swallow a little bit of what I couldn’t keep spitting out in a stream to the ditch grass. I remember the sound and tone of that tractor changing and it was as if the sound of that JD 530 and the baler were all the world was made of. It’s like when you go to the ocean for the first time and hold your head far under water and listen. A new world somehow. That cranked out 530 and the machinations of the plunging baler just reverberated in my ears and seemed to be getting louder and louder as I unsteadily and more unsteadily walked the tilting boards of our teetering, ditch-traveling hayrack. I don’t remember passing out and falling off, but I surely did. I do remember my Uncle E standing over me as if he was Zeus, white-bearded and sun weathered and stout. Now the sound of the 530 was down to an idle, popping above me as I sprawled in the bottom of the ditch. Uncle E was calm and as I came to my senses somewhat he asked me if I had been swearing at him on the bale rack for popping the clutch sometimes. Just lying there, I admitted that I thought I had cursed him a few times. He nodded his head and thought a little as I worked to spit out what snoose hadn’t run down my neck or that I hadn’t already swallowed. I didn’t know it then, but this was a weak, queasy feeling I had that was something comparable to a hangover after a three-day bender. “Watch what comes into your mouth,” Uncle E said. He helped me stand up and steadied me. He looked me eyeball-to-eyeball and said, “Watch what comes out of it too.” He got back on the 530, plunged the clutch forward and off we went. I don’t know how I survived the rest of the day, but I guess we can say the young are resilient.

We are restoring that tractor slowly now, 38 years later. Uncle E has been gone for many years, but I still think about the way he gave me a lesson with that clutch and way too much snoose for any young man to handle. P.S. A good verse in the Bible to memorize is James 3: 8-10 and all the lessons my parents and uncles and aunts came from life and scripture. “But no man can tame the tongue, for it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless God our father and with it we curse our brothers and sisters who are made in the image of God. Out of the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, this should not be so.” This verse helped me hold my tongue many times.

Mike Lohre
Columbus, Ohio

John Deere Tractors in Uruguay

These are pictures of a collection of tractors owned by Claudio Fagioli in Uruguay. He is our only customer (so far) from Uruguay. Claudio has placed several orders from Steiner Tractor Parts over the last 2 years.

Thank you Claudio for sharing your collection with us.

 

Bring the comfort back to your John Deere ride

Rubber Torsion Seat Springs

Replace your worn or torn rubber torsion seat springs with our new and improved JDS2686.
We have successfully increased the durometer of the rubber without sacrificing durability. Our exclusive torsion springs for your float ride seat provide a more comfortable ride for the operators of John Deere two cylinder tractors. Get yours today! View details >>

10 Things you Didn’t Know about John Deere and his Company

10 Things you didn’t know about John Deere and his company:

MTE1ODA0OTcxNjA0NjA4NTI1Amaze your friends and relatives with these little-known facts about John Deere.

  1. John Deere was raised by a single mother. His father, a tailor, took a sea voyage to England when John was 4 years old. He was never heard from again.
  2. Deere’s first blacksmithing venture was a flop. In 1836, faced with bankruptcy, Deere sold his shop to his father-in-law and headed west. He left behind his pregnant wife and four young children and promised to send for them.
  3. Deere traveled to the edge of the frontier (Grand Detour, IL) and immediately got to work. Within two days of arriving, he’d built a forge. As the only blacksmith within 40 miles, business boomed. He built a home and sent for his family soon after.
  4. Inspiration struck at a sawmill. Deere picked up a broken steel saw blade and started experimenting. He chiseled off the teeth, shaped the blade, and invented “The Plow that Broke the Plains.” Not bad for a day’s work!
  5. Deere’s second plow is on display at the Smithsonian Institution. Joseph Brieton, his first customer, held on to the plow for many years until it was re-discovered by John Deere’s son Charles.
  6. Broken sawmill blades make great prototypes, but bad parts. Finding a reliable source of high-quality polished steel was a big holdup for Deere. It took almost 10 years after his initial invention for him to find a reliable source of polished steel, holding back the early expansion efforts of his company.
  7. Deere moved with the train. Deere quickly realized that transportation (of raw materials in, and completed plows out) would be his biggest struggle. When the railway bypassed the village of Grand Detour, Deere broke away from his existing business partner and moved to Moline, IL – along the Mississippi river and a rail line. His production increased by 600% the following year.
  8. In 1859, Deere’s 70 employees produced 15,000 plows – all with hand tools and old-fashioned production equipment!
  9. John Deere was the mayor of Moline, IL for two years.
  10. Deere died at home in 1886, at 82 years old.  

The Deere company didn’t die with its founder, though! Many members of the Deere family continued to lead the company – come back next week to read about the son-in-law that saved the Deere company.

 

John Deere 60 Before and After

 

John Deere 60 Before Restoration

 

One of our winners, Kris Johnston, of our Farm First Kits, sent in this story and pictures of their 1952 John Deere 60 restoration. Thanks for sharing!

1952 John Deere Model 60. This was my wife’s Dad’s last tractor. It was sold at his farm auction in 1988. The fellow that bought it left it set outside in a weed patch since then, so the weather took its toll. Aaron Sheetz of Stockport, Iowa did the major part of the restoration, and we did use some parts from Steiner. Restoration was started in October of 2014, and finished June 6, 2015. We took the tractor to the Scotland County Antique Fair in Memphis, Missouri the latter part of August 2015, and received the Best Restored Classic Tractor there out of about 75 shown.

Kris Johnston
Columbus Junction, Iowa
John Deere 50 after restoration

The Details Make the Difference: JD Hood and Grille Fasteners

Many John Deere tractors use special fasteners to attach the hood and grille. Here’s why they are important and where you can find them.

When the Dubuque, Iowa John Deere works opened in the late 1940s, they started using a new fastener style for the hoods and grills of the tractors produced at the factory. The special turnlock fasteners were originally invented for the aviation industry by William Dzus (pronounced “zeus”). While Dzus is a brand name of turnlock fasteners, many people refer to all fasteners of this style as Dzus fasteners.

JD 430W

These fasteners are special because they lock in place securely and quickly. This allows tractor hoods to be removed and replaced with a just a quarter-turn for each fastener – significantly faster than bolts. They are also more secure than a threaded bolt, which can slowly come loose with vibration. A well-designed turnlock fastener won’t loosen over time.

These fasteners were well-made and a really useful innovation. It’s the sort of small detail that made John Deere tractors great.

JD Fasteners

Through normal wear and tear, many existing fasteners have become broken or rusted. That’s to be expected on a 50+-year-old tractor! However, replacements have been hard to find – especially at a reasonable price.

Many people have given up on finding these fasteners and instead used bolts instead. While this choice is ok, it’s not nearly as nice (in looks or in function). If you want to do a detailed restoration project, I think you’ll appreciate getting the right fasteners.

The folks at Steiner have come through with an exact reproduction of these John Deere fasteners. They come in two different lengths, and they’ve even put together an ordering guide that lists how many of each length you’ll need for the hood and grille of your John Deere tractors – it’s available here.

Jim’s John Deere Collection

Here’s something you might have missed at the Tri-State Gas Engine and Tractor Show in Portland, Indiana: Jim Meyer’s John Deere collection.

 

One of the more fascinating things in Jim’s collection is this prototype John Deere mini bike, the JD PT 50. It looks like a cousin to the John Deere AMT (which is the predecessor to the modern-day Gator).

IMG_2666

According to Jim, this is a one-of-a-kind prototype built by John Deere in the mid-80s. It was built in Horicon, Wisconsin – near where the John Deere lawn mowers are built. Through a lucky connection, Jim was actually given the prototype for free!

IMG_2669

The PT 50 never made it beyond the prototype stage, making this an incredibly unique find.

IMG_2668

Also on display was Jim’s scale model 8410T, built from a lawn tractor. Isn’t it neat!

IMG_2673

He also has a scale model of a 8420.

IMG_2675

Here’s his pristine 330 John Deere, and a 300.

IMG_2679 IMG_2678

And here’s a model 2520 that he built from a 70’s lawn tractor. Jim got creative with this one and used an electric motor so that it could be driven indoors at his son’s wedding! Jim’s son used the tractor to haul around the bride and the wedding party. Sounds like a fun wedding, Jim!

IMG_2677

Jim welcomed his new daughter-in-law to the family with a custom Pink patio series tractor. He let me sit on it for a picture.

IMG_2682