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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:


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?

Minneapolis-Moline G1000 Tractors

“As the pace and size of farming grows, so grows the need for power… Power that can wheel wide, acre-covering gangs of implements. Power that can do two jobs in the time it would take to do one.” These lines are from an original 1967 advertisement for one of my favorite Moline tractors: the big MM G1000.


I love this advertisement so much that I made it a part of my personal literature collection. The G1000 is a classic for a reason – but have you heard of some of these collectible models?

When I was the Mecum auction in Davenport, IA in April, this rare G1000 Vista Diesel with FWA was offered for sale. The casting number located under the platform confirmed that it was a FWA model from the factory.


The tractor belonged to a farmer and collector from Sulley, Iowa. He purchased it in Canada in 2007 but had a 4-month struggle with customs while attempting to bring it across the border. After getting a lawyer involved, it was finally released from customs and put to work on his 6,000 acres of corn and soybeans.

The Vista models sit higher than the standard G1000, providing extra visibility and dust protection. They also separate the driver a little bit more from the heat from the engine. A shifter on the side is also more comfortable for the driver.


Vista models are neat, but when combined with the FWA option they become even more special. According to the seller, this tractor was one of 52 FWA models originally made, but Moline collectors only know of about 25 remaining. The FWA option was offered from the factory for two years, 1968 and 1969.


This combination is rare enough to be very valuable. The gavel fell at the Mecum auction this past April at $44,000. Auction results from Machinery Pete show that a similar model in running, original condition sold for $32,000 back in November of 2015.

This wasn’t the only interesting G1000 for sale at the Mecum auction this past April, either. The very first retail G1000 Row Crop LP also crossed the auction block, although the seller’s reserve was not met.


The G1000 was also offered in a Wheatland version. Here’s a picture of one offered for sale at the Polk auction this past March.

Moline called themselves the World’s Finest Tractors. What a slogan! These G1000s are sure persuasive.

Horsepower Myths

Here are two common myths about how to increase the horsepower on any tractor:

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Myth #1: A hotter coil will increase your horsepower.

Some people think that a more powerful coil (sometimes sold as a “Flame Thrower” coil) will increase their horsepower with a hotter spark. This isn’t the case. Let me explain, starting with the basics:

Engines are, at their most basic, controlled explosion machines. Fuel fills the combustion chamber and is ignited by the spark. The force of this explosion moves the pistons, the pistons move the crankshaft, and so on.

More fuel will make a difference in the amount of output, since more fuel means a bigger (more powerful) explosion. A bigger or more powerful spark, however, won’t make the explosion bigger or more powerful.

A standard tractor coil spits off around 20,000 volts. This is more than enough spark to fire your cylinders (probably around 2 times more than you need). Excess voltage just turns to heat.

I suppose that if your tractor’s inner workings had eroded to the point where the gap was larger, it would indeed take more voltage to jump the gap and make spark. This is why standard coils are already over-engineered with excess voltage, giving around 2x as much as you need. If 2x the voltage doesn’t have you firing on all cylinders, you’ve got a problem… and a hotter coil isn’t a good solution. Try a tune-up instead!

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Myth #2: An electronic ignition will increase your horsepower.

There are advantages to an electronic ignition, but increased horsepower isn’t one of them.

It’s the same basic concept – spark is spark, and more of it won’t change the fuel explosion equation.


How to Get More HP from your Farmall H Tractor

Farmall-HWould you like to get more horsepower out of your Farmall H?

These classic Farmall tractors are rated for 19 horsepower at the drawbar, 24 at the belt. With a quality restoration job, you can get this same horsepower or better on your Farmall H. But for those of you who want to increase the horsepower of your Farmall H beyond factory standards, here are some tips.

If you can only make one change, start with replacing the intake manifold and carburetor. Replace these parts with ones from a Farmall 300. The Farmall H bore is big enough to handle the increased fuel from the larger manifold and carburetor – out of all the swaps you could do, this one will give you the most bang for your buck.

If you’re up for some bigger changes, consider replacing the head. The regular Farmall H head can be swapped for one from a Farmall 300. You could also put in different pistons and sleeves. You can get more horsepower out of a Farmall 300 or 350 piston and sleeve kit, but it won’t fit in the Farmall H block the same way. You’ll need to either replace the block with one from a 300/350 or you can put in an overbore piston and sleeve kit in your standard H block.

No matter what changes you make to your tractor’s engine, don’t forget to think about how you will transfer that power to the drawbar. If you are pulling, pay special attention to the hitch height and tire specifications. These small details are easy to overlook, but they make a big difference too. Read more of my best tips for setting up your pulling tractor here.

The Best Tractor Massey Ferguson Ever Made

The Massey Ferguson 135 is one of (if not THE) best tractor Massey ever made, with one important point: be sure you get the right engine.


Did you know that my dad was a Massey Ferguson dealer when I was younger? One year, his dealership sold more compact Massey tractors than any other dealer in the region! Needless to say, I grew up with a healthy appreciation for the brand. My family was proud to sell their newer equipment, but today I’m focusing on one of their old standards: the Massey Ferguson 135.

The 135 was made for 11 years, from 1964 to 1975. In the last year of production, the selling price was $4,385. Today, they are still affordable tractors – some of the best value you can get in the 30-40 horsepower range.

The MF 135 was offered with either a gas Continental engine or a Perkins engine that was offered in either gas or diesel. The engine choice makes all the difference in the world!

I’m not a fan of the Continental gas engine, to say the least. This particular model (either a Z-134 or a Z-145) was a wet sleeved engine. It has a weak valve train and is expensive to fix.

If you’re in the market for a MF 135, choose the Perkins option! The 3-cylinder Perkins engine is fabulous. It’s fuel efficient, highly reliable, and runs like a dream. It is easy and inexpensive to rebuild: everything you could want.

As long as you get a Perkins model, I highly recommend this tractor! The MF 135 came loaded with options, including live power, hi-lo transmission, multi-power, power steering, and spin out rims. Tractors with combinations of these options are even more desirable and fun to work with.
Out of all the Massey Ferguson tractors, the model 135 is my favorite. How about you? Does the MF 135 win first place on your list, or do you prefer a different model? Let me know in the comments below!

Sale Superlatives

These are the firsts, the best, the top sellers, and the most exciting tractors that crossed the auction block this past weekend at the Mecum Gone Farmin’ auction in Davenport, IA.

Top Seller:

Quite a few first or only tractors were sold, but this Little Giant tractor was one of the biggest show-stoppers. According to Mecum’s researchers, it’s the first Model B that was sold and the oldest Little Giant in existence. Want to take a guess at the sale price? It’s listed at the bottom of this article.

little giant

First in its Model:

I love this 1935 John Deere D Industrial. It’s the first of 91 Model D Industrial tractors built. The special pneumatic tires are really eye-catching. It was consigned from the Cass and Hyler John Deere Collection, and like others from this collection the restoration was really pristine. It sold for $80,000.

john deere d industrial

Boldest Paint Job

The unusual (and accurate) color combination of this Lamborghini 1R really stands out! It’s extremely rare and very cool! Sale price: $29,000.


The Oddest:

Okay, this is pretty subjective – but the tractor that seemed the oddest to me was this Graham-Bradley 103. I love the long, sleek design. I’ve only seen a handful in person, even though they were manufactured in Detroit (near my hometown). I’ve never seen one that was restored this well – it’s a really beautiful piece of machinery!


The Lowest Serial Number:

This Minneapolis-Moline G1000 LP has the lowest serial number, being the first of this model that was manufactured. It’s been well maintained and overhauled, but it’s still in its work clothes. I have a real soft spot in my heart for Molines, but you don’t even have to be a Moline lover like I am to appreciate this gem! The gavel fell at $10,000, which was less than the owner’s reserve.


The Best Pedal Tractor:

Okay, this one is subjective – but I LOVE this pedal tractor! I had a Moline pedal tractor as a kid, but it was a different model – this Z was custom built. I would have loved to have this as a kid in order to match my Grandpa’s MM Z. It sold for $900. That’s (almost) too much to let your kid play on. It wasn’t the highest selling pedal tractor (two others sold for $1,000 each), but this is the one I would have taken home if I could.


The Most Steiner Parts Catalogs Given Away:

So many friends stopped by the Steiner table at the Mecum auction that we ran out of catalogs! Wow! Thanks to everyone who came by. It was so fun to see old friends and meet new ones.

Oh, and that Little Giant? It sold for $90,000.

Thanks, Mecum Gone Farmin’ (Little Giant and JD D Industrial) and Harley Ann Schlichenmeyer (Z Pedal) for the pictures.

Experimental Farmall M Tractor

When I was at the Red Power Round Up in Sedalia, MO this past summer, I spotted this interesting experimental tractor. The M is owned by Wayne Hutton of Clarence, MO.


The tractor comes from Burr Ridge–the IH experimental farm in Hinsdale, IL. The tractor was tested extensively both at the IH farm and at other local farms.


Wayne has done a lot of research on the tractor – here are his own words (from the display card attached to the M) describing the differences and history of this really unique tractor.

Many features were different than the M.

  • At the Experimental Farm is was known as M-8. It has 8 forward speeds and two reverse speeds. Road gear was blocked out. This idea was later used in the 06 series.
  • The hydraulic system isn’t a belly pump. The pump is in the rear end and uses the oil in the rear end as the different, the hydraulic levers are different and also the platform.
  • The brake and clutch pedals were changed. Disc brakes were used then later on the Super M. The Brake lock was changed on the platform also. 
  • The tractor has a live PTO shaft. The brakes were made lower to allow for the PTO shaft to go to the rear of the tractor. It had an over center PTO gear box and lever that is gone. This is what the later model tractors had.IMG_1107
  • The tractor is all different behind the motor. The light bracket, amp box, choke lever, bell housing, starter, axles and housing. The axles were bigger and longer and the housing were made shorter, also the belt pulley is different.IMG_1109
  • The axles were changed to bigger as one fall a 2 row mounted corn picker was being used and an axle broke so they took it in and put in bigger axles.
  • The tractor has a M/W governor and behlem power steering pump.
  • The tractor has a 4 ⅛” piston. It must have been a power plant motor as it has a boss on side of motor for a fuel pump.

After testing, these tractors were supposed to be disassembled (to check wear patterns) and then destroyed. Somehow, this tractor escaped destruction and found its way into Wayne’s hands. I’m so glad it did! It’s really neat to see how early ideas were tested before mass production.



Farmall Super MVTA Restoration

Here’s a restoration project to drool over – a very rare Farmall Super M-VTA, restored to perfection by Eric Shuster of Moweaqua, Illinois.


As far as I can tell, this tractor is one of just 44 built to these specifications. While the Farmall M is an incredibly popular tractor, this variation was very specialized. Here’s the breakdown:

Start with your standard Farmall M – an iconic American tractor, tens of thousands manufactured over the years.

After 14 years of production, Farmall added the “Super” designation in 1952 – essentially the same tractor, but with slightly larger engines and hydraulics as standard equipment.

After 2 years, Farmall further tweaked the design by adding a Torque-Amplifier (the TA in the model designation). The  Super M-TA was built only in 1954, with production ending in October of that year.


A Super M-TA is rare enough to be noticeable – but a high clearance really  sets this particular model apart. Only 64 Super M-VTA tractors were built. Out of those 64 tractors, 44 of them used gasoline. This tractor is one of those 44 gasoline-burning Super M-VTAs built.

Based on the serial number and information from the IH Archives, we believe this tractor was built in the last month of production, October of 1954. Our best guess is that this was the 2nd to last Super M-VTA (gas) ever built.

Not much is known about this tractor’s path from the factory to restoration. We suspect it was a southern tractor, used in farming tobacco or cotton. By the time it was picked up for restoration, it was in rough shape.


The hardest part of the restoration project was the hood – it arrived at the shop without one. Because this particular model’s hood was longer than the standard, it was hard to locate a restorable hood for this model. Eric located one but it was in rough shape. More than 50 hours of work went into this piece of sheet metal alone – and it looks great! If you didn’t know the story, you’d never suspect the hood ever had any repairs.


With so few tractors like this made, information on the correct details is hard to come by – and parts are even harder to find. Experts at the IH Archives and the Red Power Magazine helped with research. By the time he was through, Eric had completed an incredibly detailed restoration – right down to the original hardware, radiator shutters, wiring harness, fuel line, manifold cover, and correct tires. Eric had help in this restoration from the tractor’s previous owner, Dale Smith of OEM parts, who had started the restoration process and custom fabricated many of the parts before he passed away.


As you can see from the pictures, the crowning glory of this restoration job is the perfect paint. Shuster’s Tractor Restoration really outdid themselves on this project, using 11 gallons of Iron Guard 2150 paint.

What a beauty! This tractor will be on display and offered for sale at the Mecum Gone Farmin’ Auction in Davenport, IA in just a few weeks. Thanks, Eric, for sharing your story with us – well done!



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6 Reasons to Pick a Favorite Tractor

Multi-Brand Do you have a favorite antique tractor brand? If not, you should! Here are six reasons why brand loyalty matters:

  1. Repairs are easier. Once you’ve worked on one model of your preferred brand, you’ll probably have an easier time working on other models from the same maker. Every company has their own way of doing things, and learning this system makes things a lot easier.
  2. Learn from a local dealer. Even though many of our favorite brands are no longer producing new tractors, their old dealerships might still be around. If the major dealer in your hometown sold your preferred brand of tractors, you’re in luck! Make friends with the dealership owner or service manager for helpful tips and even (if you are extra lucky!) a source for rare literature. Soak up this knowledge while you can!
  3. Scope out the salvage yards. If your favorite brand is popular in your area, you might be able to find old gems in fence-rows and salvage yards near your home. My dad has saved more than one rare tractor from the scrapyard this way. If you become known as the go-to collector of a certain brand in your area, you might start getting tips from salvage yards around town too!
  4. Travel to fewer shows. This one might sound like a negative, but hear me out – I really like single-brand tractor shows. It seems like every major brand has one or two huge, national shows that draw the crowds. This is where the top-tier collectors bring out their very best. Compared to smaller, regional, all-color shows – well, the single-brand shows usually take the cake! If you want to see something really unique, picking a favorite and traveling to the biggest single-brand show is probably your best strategy.
  5. In-depth knowledge about your preferred company. Let’s face it: our brains can only hold so much! Instead of knowing a few things about many brands, some people prefer to learn EVERYTHING they can about just one brand. These are the folks I call when I have a serious question about a certain tractor.
  6. Everyone knows what to buy you as a gift. When your favorite colors are known to your family and friends, your birthday gets a whole lot easier!

How about you – are you brand loyal? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Tractor Quiz

Here’s the test of a real tractor enthusiast – can you identify a tractor by sound alone?

My parents taught me to do this when I was young. I grew up in a house where it’s normal to ask a toddler “What sound does a John Deere make?” right after “What sound does a cow make?”

If you’d like to test your knowledge of tractor sounds, here’s your chance! I put together this little quiz after combing through some home movies my dad made of some tractors he had for sale. You might hear his voice over the sound of the tractor in a few of them.

Make your best guess of the make and model in the comments, and I’ll release the answers Wednesday. You get one point for the correct make, and a bonus point if you get the model right too. (There’s no prize here – just bragging rights). 

Tractor number 1:

Tractor number 2:

Tractor number 3:

Tractor number 4:

Tractor number 5:

I’ll be back soon with the answers!