Grit Blogs > Scyther Bull Log

Dangers of Driving Deeres

OSFB HeadshotOur vintage farm equipment sat idle a few years after Dad's retirement. Most of it has been in the family since before I was born, so I consider it all my brothers and sisters of iron. After a long rest, we went to work on checking and getting it field ready and back in the game.

Case hauling bales
Our Case 830 Diesel back to work hauling bales. After a careful disassembly and cleaning of the fuel injection pump, I gladly came back to life and preform its tasks as designed. 

We have four vintage tractors on the farm. The 830 Case, our biggest had set idle after the cows were sold off. It had been used to feed the large round bales. When the battery was charged and the jumper cables applied, we found the engine would turn over, but wouldn’t start. Also I wasn't getting the tell-tale diesel "smoke" from the stack that would have been a sign that the cylinders were getting fuel. I determined compression was OK because the engine would light off on good-ol gasket-blowin connecting rod bendin starting either.

Deere in weeds
The 70 Diesel had set for a longer period than the Case. With a check of the fluids, topping off of the gasoline, battery boost for the pony engine, John-John started on the first try. 

We then decided to take a page out of the old physics book regarding liquids and take the path of least resistance, which meant giving our 1955 John Deere 70 Diesel a run at the field. This tractor has been a good runner all of its life and despite a few eccentricities, it will give a good days work. The current ticks it has are very little brakes, the power steering sector hangs up, and we have little time or money to tend to either.

After checking the condition of all fluid levels, I climbed up, went through the pony engine gyrations to lite off some diesel fuel, prepared to snag an implement, and roll to the field. After attaching the chisel, I selected fourth gear like I had done years earlier, tapped the throttle, and firmly engaged the clutch. As the tractor lurched forward for the next few moments, I experienced an adrenaline rush equal to that of finding a bee’s nest in the pasture while mowing. The engine was strong and responded well to my commands; however the steering and brakes were less enthusiastic. I found myself putt-putting along at a lively gate for the house unable to control the direction of the equipment. As I jerked back on the clutch, I literally stood on both brakes with all my mental capacity focused on the conversations I was going to have on how the restoration of the house was taking a totally different direction with a hole through the bathroom wall and the tractor nestled comfortably in the dining room. A photo shoot of a 1880's farmhouse with a bay window in the privy could have been a trend setter - see who's driving in the yard or eating dinner while sit-in on the can.

farmhouse northeast
East side of the Farmhouse that nearly got punched by the tractor. The Evergreen can be seen to the extreme left. 

John-John (family name) and I came to a halt with the front tires approximately 10 feet from the house and the exhaust lightly puffing at the branches of the evergreen by the side of the house. With relief, I lowered myself to the seat, selected reverse and backed the tractor into the center of the driveway. I stopped, put the tractor in neutral, carefully climbed down and waddled over to the garage where I got a pry bar to pry the seat cushion out of my butt.

John-John with 16ft. Krause
Our John Deere 70 Diesel much as it appears today. 

So now, I am more cautious and maintain second gear as my yard gear until such time as I get the steering and brakes back working to a more factory-like standard. I figure in the cost of repairing vintage equipment to field ready condition for small acreages when I’m mechanically inclined is a lot better than payments on new, and as for me, I enjoy the trip back in time.