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 04-28-2002, 10:04 Post: 37910
TomG

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I was reading the book 'Painted House' by John Grisham. The story was about tenant cotton farmers in Arkansas and set in 1951.

A JD tractor was mentioned in the writing frequently. Several times the tractor was mentioned in connection with its diesel chugging. After reading the book, I kept thinking, I wonder how new a tractor a tenant cotton farmer would have in 1951 and what JD would have had a diesel engine.

Don't know when and which JD models started having diesels. My uncles during the time were more prosperous than the story characters at least in that they owned their land, and they all has gas tractors.

Of course, the question is just my curiosity and is entirely incidental to the story, which I think is a very good one.






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 04-28-2002, 19:42 Post: 37918
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Tom. To the best of my knowledge, the first JD diesel farm tractor came on the scene around 1955-56 and it wasn't very long before that that they still had iron wheels.
On the other issue, I have a friend who is now in his late 40's and he was raised by his grandparents in the south in a sharecropper’s circumstance. So he was a kid in the mid 50's and into the 60's. When he left the farm his grandpa was still using mules. He was raised on hard work and you can still see it when you look at him today. If he wanted meat for supper, he had to go out and shoot small game such as squirrels and rabbits. I don't think he ever used mechanized farm equipment, as we know it today.






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 04-28-2002, 19:53 Post: 37919
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Model "70" 1953-1956


The 70 arrived a year after the 50 and 60, with many of the same features. Later it earned two distinctions all its own, and shared others with its year-older brothers.
Originally available with gasoline, "all fuel", or LP-gas engine, it later offered a diesel option. The 70 thus becaume the first John Deere diesel row-crop tractor.

In its Nebraska test, the 70 Diesel set a new fuel economy record, bettering all previously tested row-crop tractors. In 1954, the 50,60, and 70 became the first row-crop tractors equipped with optional factory-installed power steering. John Deere engineers achieved this industry first with a system that used built-in hydraulics to control the steering column. This differed from "add-on" systems utilizing externally mounted motors on steering shafts or hydraulic cylinders hooked up to tie rods.

Improvements in equipment control paralleled improvements in tractor power and performance. Case in point: The 801 Hitch, an early weight-transfer hitch that transformed implement draft resistance into downward pressure on tractor drive wheels. It was introduced on 50, 60 and 70 tractors.

In addition to the row-crop model, the 70 was available as a somewhat unusual standard tractor. More accurately, it was a wheatland tractor built on a row-crop chassis. Fenders and front axle were all that distinguished it from the row-crop model.

The 70 Diesel was rated at 34.25 drawbar hp and 43.77 belt hp. Nebraska Test No. 528 (1954); also No. 493, No. 506 and No. 514 (1953).


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 04-28-2002, 21:01 Post: 37920
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Mark
The first diesel tractor by Deere was the Model R, in 1949.
My father started working on the early stages of engineering design for Deere in 1936 and spent his career building and testing diesel tractors, which included the Model R, the 70, 80, up until the late 50's when Deere switched to 3, 4, and 6 cylinder diesels.
Your web link will take you to the Model R for some additional information.






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 04-29-2002, 06:12 Post: 37926
TomG

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Thanks. Pretty good info. I think a pretty safe conclusion is that a tenant cotton farmer wouldn't be likely to have a diesel tractor in '51 even if R-models were on the market. I wouldn't fault the author (formerly a lawyer) for this detail though. The story did describe sharecroppers with mules rather than tractors and described lives that were harder than I can imagine.

My folks grew up working the land with horses but fled Nebraska cornfields for California the middle of the depression. I'm not sure when my uncles who stayed got their tractors, but they always had them as far back as I can remember. I'm not sure any of my cousins stayed on the land, but if any did, they probably have diesels by now. I guess I'm the city kid who went back, but of course I don't have the worries of raising cash crops.

One of my ancestors is thought to be the first European to raise a cash crop in an eastern Nebraska county. It probably was done with horses. Now I have a diesel tractor for no crops. Modern life is a bit self-indulgent I guess.






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 04-29-2002, 08:27 Post: 37932
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Kay. Great info! I am interested for other reasons. My uncle aquired a green diesel in the mid to late fifties and I was trying to figure out which model it might have been. Do you recall which models used a gasoline engine to start the diesel and an electric motor to start the gas engine?






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 04-29-2002, 10:00 Post: 37936
Peters

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The R had the gas engine to start on the JD. It is a bit of a misnomer to call some of the early JD gas as many started on gas and ran on farm fuel.






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 04-29-2002, 18:18 Post: 37945
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By early you must mean prior to WW II. We had a fuel tank in the yard that fed the tractors, the chevy pick-up and the Buick grandpa drove to church on Sunday. So what is farm fuel?






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 04-29-2002, 19:38 Post: 37951
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I was hoping someone could explain it all. I think the A and B ran like this. I believe it was like kerocene, but I don't know all the particulars.
When it comes to old tractors my experience is limited. I grew up in an area up north that was 400 miles of gravel road to the next town of any size and did not have a road until WW II. There was very little equipment around that predated the war and certainly no Deeres.
I have a friend in Ketucky that has a barn full of old Deeres and was showing me the starting sequence.






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 04-30-2002, 06:17 Post: 37958
TomG

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Kerosene, coal oil, #1 diesel, stove oil and maybe farm fuel are about the same thing. I think a diesel would run on any of them, but they wouldn't be volatile enough for a low-compression spark-ignition engine. Maybe there is a fuel that would work for both relatively high-compression gas engines or relatively low compression diesel engines, but I don't know of it.

Maybe there is anther explanation. I think that older industrial equipment often used small gas engines called pony engines to start the then hard to start diesels. Some diesel tractors probably did as well, but these were entirely independent engines.

I took a tour when I was a kid in scouts during the mid-50's. I'm trying to recall if it was IH industrial equipment or Caterpillar, or if they were the same company at the time. What I believe I saw demonstrated was a single engine that had a both gas or a diesel cycle.

I saw the equipment started on gas and then changed over to diesel, and I believe it was a single engine. However, I don't believe it was intended to be operated on gas. Some years later in university I was talking to somebody who said that the way these engine worked was that there were cavities in the head that were sealed from the cylinders by valves. When the valves were open, the compression was low enough for the engine to run on gas. He also said the engine has been used on tractors but didn't last long. The valves were never in their seats while on the gas cycle and got hot if operated on gas for awhile. Then, they'd warp and the engine would be no good for diesel.

Please keep in mind that this story is a kid's recollection and may be wildly wrong. It's just how I remember it. To make the idea work at least in theory, I guess that there would have to be a carburetor in the intake manifold, spark plugs in the cylinders and an ignition system. I don't know if the injector pump would have to be clutched.






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