Resurrecting a 1949 Tractor
After a few years, a lot of hard work and some help from friends, it runs like a Deere
Ever since I was a boy, I always enjoyed the sound of a two-cylinder, hand clutch John Deere, often referred to as Poppin John. That’s the true sound of a farm tractor at work. Our neighbor in Guilford, New Hampshire, operated a large dairy farm and had a 1950 and a 1952 John Deere G, the largest made at that time. The engines of both tractors were started using gasoline, but once engine temperatures reached 180 degrees, the gas line valve would be shut off and the kerosene line valve turned on. These tractors ran all day on less than five gallons of kerosene.
When my wife Clara and I moved to our small farm in Deale, I promised myself that some day I would own a two-cylinder John Deere.
That dream came true in the summer of 2004, when I located a 1949 John Deere B (Cyclone) and bought it. Since then, I have been restoring it piece by piece. Many of the components were so badly rusted that I had to rebuild them. A small sand blaster helped me remove the grease, dirt and paint in difficult areas. I replaced many of the bolts and mended body parts.
My dad taught me how to solder metals together, which came in handy for rebuilding the grill. My ability to weld some of the heavy broken parts saved me from buying new parts. Purchasing the operations manual and parts manual from the John Deere Company became indispensable when it was time to put all of the components back together again.
Friends who owned antique John Deere equipment were also helpful during the restoration. My friend Billy Grimes in Davidsonville supplied parts that could not be purchased from distributors. Ernie Shepherd of Lothian made me aware of B P Blaster to loosen components rusted together and told me where to get the generator and starter rebuilt.
I learned a great deal about the workings of a 1949 John Deere B and the quality that made these tractors last. It is a fine piece of American-made farm machinery that can still perform a day’s work after 58 years of service.
It runs like a Deere; come see for yourself. I will be using it to pull the Lothian Ruritan float in this year’s July 4 parade in Shady Side.
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