There are few things as American as a John Deere tractor. “Nothing runs like a Deere” is one of the most recognizable marketing slogans out there; Deere is the subject of country music songs (on a recent album, Jason Aldean sings "I’ll take you for a ride on my big green tractor…”); and Deere & Company stands alone as the last of the original U.S. tractor companies still in business.
The roots of the company date to 1837, when John Deere, a Vermont blacksmith, used a steel saw blade to make a plow that efficiently cut through tough soil. The invention was necessitated by Deere’s move that year to Rock River, Illinois, where the soil was stickier than back home in New England.
Deere soon began making steel plows for sale, hawking his creation to farmers along the Mississippi River. Deere acquired business partner after business partner, but each alliance ended in failure until he joined forces with his son Charles, a trained accountant. In 1857, Charles Deere, who would later be responsible for the rapid spread of the company’s popularity after his father’s death, was named vice president.
The Deere plows remained reliant on draft horses, but Charles Deere could see that new types of horse power would be Deere's future. Accordingly, he led the company's drive to appropriate technologies from other firms. By 1889, after the death of John Deere, the company was finally able to advertise its New Deal six-gang plow, which was powered by a steam engine. Advertisements claimed it could plow 20 acres a day at 50 cents an acre.
Steam would be an interim step for Deere, which was setting its sights on the possibilities of internal-combustion engines. What had caught Charles Deere's eye was an 1882 machine resembling a modern-day tractor. That machine was the brainchild of John Froelich, who had found a way to use a gasoline engine to pull a plow.
Froelich’s business, the Waterloo Gasoline Traction Engine Company, was not the only competitor Deere faced. In fact, the early parts of the 20th century saw many battles between Deere and its toughest competitor, International Harvester, which, like Deere, had been formed in part by acquiring other firms. It was a rivalry that would linger long after Charles Deere’s death in 1907.
In 1906, International Harvester had produced an actual tractor, which gave it a competitive edge over Deere. It took Deere until 1911 to advertise a tractor of its own, and even...
Finally, on March 14, 1918, Deere purchased Froelich’s Waterloo for $2,350,000 to get into the tractor business. Still, Deere struggled to design profitable tractors shortly after the acquisition—it wasn't until the early 1920s that Deere found success with the two-cylinder Waterloo Boys. However, because it was a one-model company, Deere was susceptible to market shifts. Rival Henry Ford was producing the Fordson tractor, which he was able to manufacture at a loss because he could offset losses with gains from his automobile line. Deere did not have that luxury.
By the middle of the decade, Deere unveiled the two-cylinder Model D Johnny Popper. Subsequent Deere models were also called Johnny Poppers or Poppin’ Johnnies, and even though Ford and International Harvester had gone to four cylinders, Deere stuck to two. The first Model Ds in 1923 and 1924 had a 26-inch spoked flywheel, which was subsequently changed to a thicker 24-inch wheel, and the steering wheel was moved to the left side of the tractor and connected to the front axle.
In 1926, Deere introduced the Model C. This unique three-row cultivator differentiated itself from rivals like International Harvester’s Farmall, which came in two- or four-row models. The tractor also used power from the engine to power the cultivator. The machine was a success and by 1927, Deere was exporting tractors around the world.
Next up for Deere was the General Purpose (GP) tractor and the GP Wide Tread tractor, released in 1928 and 1929 respectively. In 1934, the Model A was introduced—this two-plow tractor featured an adjustable tread width and burned almost any fuel. A year later, the single-plow Model B appeared—it was almost identical to the Model A, but smaller.
Deere continued to produce different tractor models to adjust to the changes in the market and technological advances. There was the Model G, a three-plow tractor released in 1938; the rare 1936 Model Y (also called the 62, only about 100 were produced), which was later converted to the three-speed Model L; and the 10-horsepower LA, introduced in 1941.
The L and LA models were made until 1946. In the decades that followed, Deere & Company moved into other areas of farm machinery, as well as the manufacture of lawn equipment. But one thing never changed—the company's signature green-and-yellow colors date to Deere's 1905 catalog.
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2 county farms receive Century Farm designationRepublican & Herald, February 5th
Although he's retired, he still enjoys working on his collection of 17 antique tractors, including 15 John Deere and two Allis-Chalmers tractors. Their son, Kenneth, lives on the Milton Snyder homestead. The Ottos built their current home, at 732...Read more
LM Veterinary Clinic: Deere John (part 1)hngnews.com, February 3rd
The “put-put” of the Johnny Poppers gets in your blood like the Pox virus. It's probably best that his John Deere A, serial number 10, was hitched to a spreader in a corn crib when I asked Ed Schulz if he might have a spare. We were looking for a...Read more
Milton meet the candidates night planned Feb. 18Foster's Daily Democrat, February 3rd
Permission was given to the public works director to proceed with the purchase of a 2015 John Deere loader from Nortrax, payment of $49,000 represents a portion of the purchase price. State Representative Bob Graham presented a gift to the town of a...Read more
Plow Day unearths precious memoriesJackson County Floridan, February 1st
The owners of 16 vintage tractors came to their place and together plowed about 20 acres of land with their old tractors. Kenny Thompson, a die-hard John Deere man, joked with Hurst when the host carried in some bright red chairs he'd restored. They...Read more
Warren Buffett's 4 stock investing principlesBusiness Insider, January 30th
Read the original article on Vintage Value Investing. Visit Vintage Value Investing today to learn more about the investing secrets of Ben Graham, Warren Buffett, and Charlie Munger. You can also check out Vintage Value Investing on Facebook and Twitter...Read more
February Club CalendarQuad-Cities Online, January 30th
Quad Cities Antique Ford Club, 7 p.m. every second Tuesday, Deere-Wiman Carriage House, 817 11th Ave., Moline. ... Quad Cities Scale Modelers, 1-4 p.m. every second Saturday, Deere-Wiman Carriage House, 10th Street and 11th Avenue, Moline. ... QC...Read more
Lolo Winterfest celebration includes vintage snowmobile showThe Missoulian, January 24th
The Polaris, owned by Jerry Swanson of Hamilton, was the oldest taking part in a vintage snowmobile show that was a part of Lolo Winterfest. “Even before that, some of the very earliest ones were little more than motorcycle engines attached to skids...Read more
Pro Vintage coming to SnodeoWaupaca County News, January 19th
Snowmobiles from 1985 and earlier racing are eligible for vintage racing. Watching vintage racing is like stepping back in time, with Ski-Doo, Moto-ski, Arctic Cat, Polaris, Yamaha, Skiroule, Rupp, Mercury, Sno-Jet, John Deere and Chaparral snowmobiles...Read more