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.
Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)
McCormick International Harvester Collection
Other Great Reference Sites
Most watched eBay auctions
Recent News: John Deere Tractors
Source: Google News
ULTRA rally, radar run set Feb. 20DL-Online, February 13th
The radar run held during the ULTRA Snowmobile Club's Vintage Rally & Swap Meet is an increasingly popular attraction. The 13th annual event is set for Saturday, Feb. 20 on the Detroit Lakes City Beach. DETROIT LAKES TRIBUNE/Vicki Gerdes ...Read more
Toy Fair 2016: Girl Power, Star Wars, Drones, Vintage and More Top Trendsbrandchannel.com, February 12th
Toy Fair 2016: Girl Power, Star Wars, Drones, Vintage and More Top Trends. Posted February 12, 2016 by ... build their own racecourses. It is also introducing a ready-to-play collection featuring kids' favorites from Disney, The Polar Express and John...Read more
The makings of an auction junkieNebraska City News Press, February 11th
My head was on overload as my wife and I looked at furniture, old matchbooks, John Deere memorabilia, books, kitchen items and little do-dads and trinkets. Then all of a sudden in the middle of the vast sea of junk, I had ... It seemed like the...Read more
LETTER: Take care with tractorsSan Angelo Standard Times, February 11th
As members of the Antique Automobile Club of America, my husband and I enjoy watching since we are unable to drive our 1930 Model A at this time. I spent the first 19 ... I have loved that the Gulley family has restored so many different John Deere...Read more
Engines and tractors of yesteryear highlight 26th annual winter showGlendale Star, February 10th
The antique tractor display allows its members to show off their fine collectables. You will see many manufacturers, including John Deere, Farmall, Minneapolis Moline, Allis Chalmers, Ford, Oliver, Massey Harris, Cockschutt, and more from every shape...Read more
Jacobson Classic Snowmobile Ride is this SaturdayHerald Review, February 10th
Pictured, are past participants in the Jacobson Classic Snowmobile Ride, held annually on Presidents' Day weekend to benefit the Jacobson Landing Recreation Area. All sorts of classic, antique and custom-built sleds and sleighs are on show for the...Read more
Jacobson Classic Snowmobile Ride takes place this weekendMesabi Daily News, February 10th
Nearly all types of classic, antique and custom-built snowmobiles take part. From out-right outrageous one-of-a-kinds to the earliest, most ... Some of the favorite past participants have included, The Woody, The Windsor Dream, The Caboose, Deere...Read more
Me & Billy goes big for Valentine's Day this weekendQuad City Times, February 10th
Maus has a full-time job at Deere & Co., but spends most nights and weekends tweaking the menu and details of the restaurant. She tries to hold a special event at least once per month, and is already planning to change the decorations for St. Patrick's...Read more