May 21, 2024

John Deere D tractor workshops planned for show

PENFIELD, Ill. — Special workshops featuring the John Deere D tractor will be held during the Historic Farm Days.

“I am going to do a workshop or two and a walk-around with the D display,” said David Wolfe, who grew up on a farm that had two-cylinder tractors and has been restoring tractors since the early ‘90s.

“With the walk-arounds, you can point out differences in tractors and the crowd helps you, because there are little things you don’t see, but the crowd sees,” Wolfe said.

“When I start a workshop or walk-around, I say we’re all going to learn something today and I will be one of the people learning.”

The John Deere D is the featured tractor at the show, hosted by the I & I Antique Tractor and Gas Engine Club, to mark the 100th anniversary of the tractor that was made from 1923 to 1953.

“It was the longest produced tractor in the John Deere line,” Wolfe said. “Farmers liked its simplicity and it was rugged and durable.”

The D tractor came with a new engineering feature.

“This tractor has enclosed gearing which kept the chains and gears inside and running in oil,” Wolfe said. “For the tractors that preceded the D, the gears were out in the dust and dirt, so the new feature was one of the reasons why the D was so long-lasting.”

In addition, the John Deere D ran on kerosene, which was a low-cost fuel.

“The D was classified as a three-plow tractor, so it could pull a three-bottom plow and the later Ds had more horsepower so they could pull four-bottom plows on lighter soil,” Wolfe said.

“The reason the D tractor faded out was it only had three speeds forward and one reverse and most other tractors in the John Deere line had six speeds forward,” he said. “And the D did not have a road gear, so when farmers traveled from one farm to the next, it was very slow.”

Wolfe is no stranger to conducting workshops. He has presented workshops at the Gathering of the Green since 2006 and has also organized the workshops for the Classic Green Reunion.

In addition, Wolfe is an author, completing a book about John Deere plows in 2006.

“I wrote another book featuring all the John Deere two-cylinder era plows,” he said. “And I wrote a book on newer generation plows from 1960 until they closed the plow factory in 1989.”

Wolfe was raised on a Wisconsin dairy farm.

“I worked as a heavy-equipment operator for over 37 years and ran a lot of John Deere yellow-painted stuff,” he said.

One of the special tractors in Wolf’s collection is a 1951 John Deere A.

“That tractor was bought used a year or so before I was born and I still have it,” he said.

The collector likes to work on his tractors.

“We try to do the restoration work ourselves, but we don’t restore as many as we used to,” he said. “We do a lot of repair work and we like the original patina look.”

Wolfe enjoys attending events where he can put his antique equipment to work.

“We love to take our tractors plowing so we plow every spring and fall,” he said. “Once you get the tractors working, they run so much better.”

In August, Wolfe plans to attend the Half Century of Progress Show in Rantoul.

“I’ve gone there a lot of years and set up as a vendor to sell plow books and plow parts,” he said. “This will be my first trip to Penfield and I will also have plow books for sale at that show.”

Martha Blum

Martha Blum

Field Editor