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The John Deere Model "R" Tractors


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 for.

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. Everybody


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

RPM's ------------1000

Displacement -----416 cubic inches

Horse Power
Pulley --------------51.00

See picture of the "R"