There are a lot of interesting
stories about some of these trips, maybe we'll get in to them some time.
One of them sticks out in my mind though. If you are interested in this
particular story, click "Story" here or "Tractor
Tales" at the bottom of this page.
On one of these tractor hunting trips somewhere near the town of Summitville, Indiana, Gary found this old "A" sitting in front of a guy's house. It was sitting beside a John Deere 60 Standard. So he stopped to ask about it (I wasn't with him on that particular trip). Yep.....it was for sale.
We had decided earlier that we didn't want to get something that would be a ton of trouble for my first restoration so we decided that the thing must at least run, and be halfway straight on the tin. He decided that this old A would definitely fit the bill. There were also a couple of JD H's in one guys barnlot in the same general vicinity of the state which Gary saw on that trip. When he got back home he told me about all of these opportunities.
We had to have a tractor that would fit in my two car garage so we talked quite a bit about size and decided that any of these tractors would fit, the old A coming the closest to not fitting (81" to the top of the stacks). We decided however, that if this was the one chosen that we could always let some air out of the tires and/or block up the garage door that last 3/4".
To make a longer story shorter as they say, Gary picked me up at about 9:30 in the morning on Saturday March 14, 1997. We jumped in his 4 wheeler and headed South from my home here in Elkhart, Indiana.
First stop was at the house where the two JD H's were located. One was a 1947 and the other was older (couldn't quite make out the serial number of the older one). On closer inspection, the newer one had a cracked block with a tell-tale weld showing, the older one was stuck and had lots of parts missing. We decided that this was probably not going to be our choice for this time around. This guy was a collector though, as he had several other carcasses of tractors sitting around all over the place. We eventually found out that he was actively involved in antique tractor pulling and the collecting of John Deer tractors. He had two barns full of them, I would guess about 25 altogether. Some that I remember were a 26 D (nickle flywheel), a Model L, and a '35 B.
We eventually parted company and headed to the house a few miles away that had the 60 Standard and the '41 "A". Gary told me that he had made arrangements with a tractor collecting friend of his, who just happened to be a John Deere mechanic and an expert on John Deeres and who lives near this house, to be available to help us get the A started.
When we arrived there was no one home so we went down the road to Gary's friend's house to see if he was home. He was in his shop working on an old "G" and was glad to see us. This fellow's name is Tom Coppes, and is a retired school teacher who happened to work as a JD mechanic before he got into his teaching career.
Tom started collecting and working on John Deeres for others sometime after he had left the dealership and he just kept putting this old iron in barns with the idea of getting to them after retirement. He has literally done that (retired from teaching) and has over 20 of these old JD tractors in the barns, as well as many parts for them laying all around his place. Tom is really enjoying his retirement and is helping other Deere lovers get their tractors going too, as well as "playing" with his own toys (pulling, restoring, talking, etc.)
We spent another two hours looking at Tom's tractors and starting some of them up that day. Eventually we all headed back up the road to where the "A" was sitting and we took a few photographs of the tractor. That having been done, we put some fresh gas in the tank and Tom grabbed hold of the flywheel and gave 'er a few spins. It didn't take long before you heard that first pop and it set there and ran pretty good. After it warmed up, Gary jumped on it and took it for a spin up the road. Tom told me that it was a good solid tractor and that the transmission was good (no noises), there were no leaks that were major, and that it would be a good buy.
Tom also told me that if we were going to do a total restore on the tractor that we should eventually tear it all the way down and rebuild the engine. We fully intend to do that but it probably won't happen until this coming winter after we have had some fun with it the rest of this summer and at some of the fall festivals.
Anyway, when Gary came back up the road on that old "A" exhibiting that ear to ear grin, I knew the next step was to get out the old checkbook.....and that's what we did. We made sure that the tractor could sit there until we could make the arrangements to get it back up north. After being reassured that we could do that, we thanked Tom and the former owner for everything, jumped back in the 4-By and headed home.
That's about where we are at this point. The pictures that you see on this and other pages are pictures of the tractor as we found it. I have doctored them up to remove the background images which were not all that "photogenic".
We will be going to pick up the tractor on Saturday, April 12, 1997 and we'll report on that trip and have some photo's of the experience for you on the next update. Until then we hope you'll stay tuned as we'll be adding more pictures of the tractor as soon as we can get them ready and if you have any comments about what we are doing please E-mail us, we would be glad to hear from you.