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The John Deere Model "G" Tractor


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When the John Deere Company had developed the model A tractor, in 1934, they really came up with what proved to be a great tractor. As the country was stretching with growing pains the farmers were eager to reach new highs in production levels, with less labor intensive methods. They saw the new John Deere tractors one of the ways to attain that goal. In 1935 the smaller model B John Deere tractor, a version of the A, went into production to meet the needs of smaller farms. These tractors were so successful, as a row crop tractor, that a larger version seemed to be just the tractor that would fill a nitch in an area of the larger farms. Farms were getting to the place where they needed a tractor that could meet larger load demands. The traction steam engine, that had been the main draft mule prior to the thirties, needed several men to handle one operation, such as plowing. In 1937 a row crop tractor was introduced that would become a John Deere standard in bigger farm operations all across the nation, and internationally also, along side the big John Deere model D.

It was the John Deere model G. In it's experimental stage it was called the, "KX" and later designated the, "F" model. International's Farmall's already had a "F" model in production so the letter"G" was made the choice. This is the reason that "G" model parts all start with an "F". It could handle a three bottom plow with ease and four bottoms in light soils. Now only one person was needed for the bigger operations. The horse power wasn't to much different then the model A tractor but with the weight increase it had an 8 percent greater drawbar pull. Hydraulic lift was an optional function and a four speed transmission was standard. There had been several large tractors of importance around before this but they were slow, cumbersome and costly to operate. The John Deere model G was easy to operate, by the standards of the day, rugged and had power and weight to handle the bigger operations out there.

When introduced in May of 1937, steel wheels were mostly the norm and the farmer set the standard for that according to what they saw as needed, and the price of the machine. It was what we call an unstyled tractor today, meaning that it did not have any fancies or extras. Just a basic chassis that performed good and lasted long. Rubber tires were offered on round spoke wheels for the rear and pressed steel wheels for the front. Different configurations, such as solid cast centers, could be special ordered. Later solid cast centers became standard.

The unstyled model G tractor series ran through the production year of 1941 when it was decided to copy the style of both the A and the B models that had received styling. So in 1942 the model G got a hood to cover the gas tank, grills to cover the radiator, and a dash to house three gauges. Oil pressure, Ampere and temperature, an ignition and light switch. However it did not get a fully enclosed flywheel cover, as the A and B tractors did in 1947, and it retained the same cast steel frame to the end of their production in 1953. It was the determination of Henry Dreyfuss to install a six speed transmission in the styled G model but WWII caught the company at a time when few changes could be made to the tractor because of a "no price increase" put on by the War Board. So the first few thousand styled G's still had the four speed transmission. John Deere saw a way around this dilemma. They changed the G to GM to try to fool the War Board into thinking it was a complete new tractor. It worked and they now were able to install the six speed transmission, at a greater cost to the buyer. It is said that the (M) stood for modernized. Electric start and rubber tires were now standard on all models. They did not change the arrangements of the air intake and exhaust pipes, as the A and B model had done. The side by side arrangement was retained until the end of the letter series G in 1953.


On March 7 th 1947, production number 22112, the "M" was dropped and it again became just plain, "model G".It still retained the pan seat and forward battery location. From the initial first modernized, or styled tractors that came out in early 1942, all tractors were equipped with electric start and had the batteries located in what was known as the "forward location". This was an area between the valve cover and the fan shaft bracket. For the batteries to be placed in that location it required a modification to the lower water piping. The lower water pipe was constructed of cast iron ( part # F-91-R) and was a level, flat piece that allowed room for the two six volt batteries to be placed side by side. The lower radiator tank shell was also a different part number, ( F-451-R).

This particular version of the plain G tractor was short lived because in July of 1947 it was modernized more with an arm chair seat with the batteriies located under the cushion. There was a jump in the serial number at this time.The last pan seat model was number 25671and the first armchair model began with number 26000. On number 33436 rollamatic could be had as an option and a split front pedestal, which would allow the introduction of the GN and the GW. This was made available in 1950. The last G built was number 64530, built on Feb. 19, 1953 and shipped the very next day. They then began tooling for the new model 70.

On the early unstyled G's, the radiator was to small to properly cool the engine. Complaints were coming in of overheating and burned valves. On serial number 2200 the fan , fan shroud, radiator inlet, bottom radiator tank and radiator sides were installed as a remedy. This helped a little but no cigar. Valves continued to burn. It was determined that the valves needed to be seated deeper into the head and this adjustment seemed to answer that problem, however overheating continued. On number 3170 a different upper water pipe, with baffle, to deflect heat from the exhaust pipe, was installed, to little avail. The heating problem was still a thorn in John Deeres side so with number 4251 they bit the bullet and went with a larger and higher radiator. This somewhat answered the problem with overheating on all the tractors being produced but there were thousands still in the field with the problem. A retrofit kit was sent to all the dealers and special dodge vans were purchased by John Deere and send out to retrofit those tractors with new radiators and at the same time the head was removed and the valves got the treatment of sinking the seats and installing new valves. To this day there are still a few of those that for one reason or another didn't get the treatment of new radiators etc. These have become known as "low radiators G's. The newer high radiator tractors can be detected by the dent on the top of the radiator that allows the steering shaft to clear the radiator.

There still remained some overheating problem with the model G tractors when in severe duty. When the Korean War came along and copper was not allowed to be used in radiators any more, that really done it . The heat gauge pegged with the new radiators made with steel. In 1952, serial number 60700, a water pump was installed on all production tractors coming off the line and this was the final answer to the ongoing problem of over heating. Again a retrofit kit was made available to all other G model tractors. A friend of mine has a 1948 with a water pump.

All model G tractors were made from the factory to run on kerosene. These were called "all fuel" engines. However, in later years John Deere offered changeover kits to make them an all gasoline burning engine. Cylinder head-F49R- (flat head), gas tank, hood and fuel lines, if wanted, and manifold. This upped the horse power to around 50, from just under 40. Quite a boost for one tractor motor.

1939 model G ----$1,185.00
1953model G ----$2,600.00

Weight -1938--1941---4,488 pounds
Weight -1942--1953---5,624 pounds

All G models
bore and stroke-------------6.125 x 7.00
Rated rpm---------------------975
Compression ratio----------4.20:1
Horse Power rating 1938--1941 -Belt-----------35.91 Neb. test
Horse Power rating 1941--1953 -Belt-----------38.10 Neb test