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The John Deere Model "B"


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The John Deere Model "B"

In the 1930's the American farmer was in a struggle to complete task's almost to the point that he didn't have the energy to perform. The opportunity before him reached out to all sides and still a limited amount of financing fenced him in. The horse, which was still the main farm power, only had one gear and the same power it was born with thousands of years ago. It also was a tool that needed rest after so many hours of work, not to mention the man that followed it on foot. So, there was definitely a need to modify the means of tilling and planting, whether it be on the eastern shore, the mountainous regions of the Appalachians, the plains, the west coast or wherever sod needed to be turned, the Americian farmer was ready for the inventor to come to his aid. Already, the blast furnaces were producing iron for factories to make tractors of all kinds which time, patience, and ingenuity was well on the way to help the farmers work a lot easier and faster.

The famous "row crop" John Deere Model "A", introduced in 1934, was the rage among farmers but considered to be on the big side of some small farms that dotted the landscape of the hill country both far and yond. The John Deere Company's top brass had considered the making of a smaller "row crop" tractor, to go with the same pattern as the Model "A" when it was designed, and in 1933 a prototype, or experimental as they called it, the HX was built almost exactly as the bigger Model "AA" only 1/3 smaller in all ways. It had 9 HP, a four speed transmission, PTO as standard equipment and it could be ordered with either steel or rubber tires. It was supposed to take the place of six horses and needless to say didn't need to stop to rest. Even though it had a hard steel pan seat it was better than walking behind a horse all day long. Now he still had energy left at the end of the day to milk the cows, relieving the woman of some choir duty. At the beginning of production of the model "B" it had 11.84 HP on the drawbar and 16.01 belt HP.

As with all machines, the Model "B" tractor would have a large list of modification added as the serial numbers increased. At number 3043 the four bolts that held, or didn't hold, the front pedestal in place was increased to eight bolts. The Model "A" went through the same treatment at about the same time and for the same reason. The first of the "B" line tractors had shudder curtains made of canvas that rolled up and down to maintain water temperature. They were rolled down in cold weather so the engine would heat up for better preformance. Also we must remember that these tractors were all-fuel, which means that they started on gasoline and then were switched over to kerosene or distalate when it got warm enough to run on those. With nothing over the radiator it just wouldn't get hot enough to run on anything but gasoline and the gasoline tank was the small one gallon tank to the rear. That is why almost everybody filled the big tank with gasoline in the winter. Forget the problem of stalling with a carburetor full of kerosene. At number 34952 the curtain was replaced with manual metal shudders and guard.

From the very first it was invisioned that this tractor would make it's place with the vegetable farmers in a big way, with it size and weight. So, a wide variation of concepts, to axles, wheels and heights were offered and became just what the doctor ordered for all the lettuce, onion and beet people out there. They had one wide front axle with six different (BW-40) arrangments. The outer sections could be changed to six different arrangements without changing the center section.



In 1937 one more inovation came to the Model "B" tractor that had plagued it to this point. It seems there was only one cultivator made to fit both the Model"A" and the Model "B" . Unfortunately the cultivator was made to fit the Model "A". When installed on the Model "B", not enough room to clear the rear tires when raised to the high position. Therefore, everybody had to transport with those cultivator shovels only just clearing the ground. When going over uneven ground they dug into the earth, making many furrows in the mothers yard. Finally one day it must have happened to one of the engineers at John Deere because (number 42200) it was lenghtened 5 inches and became known as the long hood or long nose "B". Since they only made the long ones for two years, not as many of those are around, which makes them more valuable to collectors. I have one of those, a 1938.

These tractors were only hand crank by the flywheel, and could be ordered with or without rock shafts to raise and lower implements with hydraulic power. Without the rockshaft attachment, it was know as a ,"flatback" model.

In 1939 Henry Dreyfuss gave it the styled effect that the Model "A" received. It then could be ordered with electric start and lights. 1941 changed the 4-speed to the six speed two lever design. 1947 gave it the box seat with cushions, the steering pedistal redesign, power-trol, six speed with one gear lever, external hydrulic cylinder to operate remotely, pressed steel frame rails replaced the cast iron ones and the cyclone engine with increased horse power. 1949 gave it the John Deere exclusive, patented, optional, roll-a-matic front wheel design. Boy did that save a lot of busted knuckles and broken wrist when crossing the plow furrow. The 1952 Korean War brought a shortage of copper and the radiator had to be made of steel, which caused a heating problem. In 1952, with serial number 306600, a water pump was installed.

- 1935-1938 (unstyled)

Serial numbers --1000-59999
Bore & Stroke---4.25 x 5.25
RPM --------------1150
HP--Drawbar---11.84--------- Nebraska Testing-- ------PTO------16.01
Price on steel----$750.00


Serial numbers--60000-200999
Bore & Stroke---4.50 x 5.50
HP--Drawbar---14.03----------Nebraska Testing--------PTO-------18.53
Price-----(1939) $786.50


Serial numbers--201000 -310775
Bore & Stroke---4.8675 x 5.50
HP--Drawbar---24.62 --------Nebraska Testing---------PTO------27.58
Price-----(1952) $2,068


Note: Cut hood - This is when the farmer decided to install a new muffler without removing the hood and simply cut enough of the hood away to get to the bolts that hold the muffler.

Note: They say there are a few of those styled "B's" out there that were made in 1938. Personally, I have never seen one.

Note: The first styled "A's"and "B's" that were ordered with rubber tires in 1939, had factory flat spoke rear wheels, but only were produced until early 1940 when only round spoke wheels were available thereafter until only pressed steel wheels replaced them and then came the cast steel wheel centers where either steel or cast could be ordered until 1946 .