During the forties and fifties the sprawing lands
of the midwest and prairies of Canadia were having growing pains
that only larger tractors would seem to satisfy. Farmers were
putting two tractors together, putting truck motors in them and
adding more wheels. All this was sending a signal to the tractor
manufacturing companys that something different was being called
Already some of the other companies were building
tractors with diesel engines to pull the large disk and ground
tillage equipment needed to farm the large acreage across the
land. John Deere needed to get into that part of the market to
get it's fare share in the competition. It was each companies
desire to meet every demand, in the different fields, that was
put before them by the actual needs farmers had. Seeing the farmer
devise contraptions that had enormous horse power to pull twice
and three times the normal amount of equipment, with only one
operator, surely sent a signal out that larger tractors were in
order. John Deere was not blind to this and had been experimenting
along this line for some time. Actually, in the 30s Deere experimented
with diesel tractors, to no avail, but in the 40's things got
more heated and they came up with some success. Their first experiment's
had some faults but as they progressed a tractor was produced
that had all the necessary requirements to meet what they thought
the farmer would find necessary.
Boy were they right. The two banger, John Deere
built diesel, really fit the bill and the farmers that had the
"putt putt" blood line were more then happy with the
outcome. Not only did it have a diesel engine but Deere engineers
had successfully added some features that improved performance
that had never been known before in the farming industry. These
features included live independent PTO and hydraulics, operated
from the operators platform that worked implements drawn behind,
and for the first time, a factory heated cab for the operator.
Not only was the "R" a great drawbar tractor
but great on the belt also. My wife's uncle Louis Mellott, in
Needmore, Pa., bought a 1949 "R" to turn his sawmill.
I was only a boy then but I still remember the talk of that time.
was talking about the big new John Deere diesel, model "R"
tractor in Needmore, Pa. It was a time when many were saying that
such a monster tractor was to big for anybody to need. How they
were soon to be proved wrong. It was only a couple years later
that my uncle, Kermit Mellott, who farmed just a few miles from
where I lived, and about ten miles from where Louis Mellott lived,
bought a model "70 John Deere diesel. My uncle also used
the "70" to run a sawmill, in the winter months.
The first "R" model, to be sold, came off the assembly
line in 1948, serial number #1000, and was shipped to Wolf Point,
Montana on January 12th, 1949. It featured a two cylinder diesel
that was started by another electrically started two cylinder
pony motor, such as the Caterpillar's had. The exhaust from the
pony motor was circulated through the diesel motor to warm it
for starting on diesel.
There were 21,294 built from 1948 to 1954. In September of 1954
the first of the number model "80", that succeeded the
"R", continued until the "820" replaced it
and then the "830" and so ended the two cylinder tractor
for John Deere in 1959.
In the Nebraska test the John Deere Model "R" rated
the highest fuel economy ever for that size tractor. No wonder
it was so popular.
Bore and Stroke --5.75 x 8.00
Displacement -----416 cubic inches
See picture of the "R"