John Deere Model D 15-27 SN 73293

Model D
Model D

SN 73293 was built in early 1929. While the Model D’s built between 1926 and 1930 look very similar to the the so called “spoker” Ds, they do differ in several ways. Most noticeable is the spoked flywheel which was replaced by a disc type flywheel as the spoked version was prone to cracking the spokes. Also the transmission top was changed to a plain steel stamping in place of the cast iron tops with the words “Waterloo Gasoline Engine Co. Waterloo Iowa, U.S.A” cast in to the top.  The large bowl brass Schebler Model D carburetor was replaced with a smaller carburetor in 1927. Actually there were two variations of the Model D used, the Schebler  298 D4 in 1923 and 1924 and the Schebler 304 D4 in 1925, 1926 and into 1927. After the Schebler D, John Deere used a succession of carburetor models. SN 73293 was equipped from the factory with a Schebler AD411 R

There are some changes not immediately noticeable. The 1926 production of Model Ds retained the keyed crankshaft when the pan flywheel was introduced however in 1927 the splined crankshaft and flywheel was introduced. At the same time the engine cylinder bore was increased to 6.75 inches from 6.5 inches.

Front wheels can change with some production coming with front wheels featuring spokes made out of flat iron rather than iron rod.   At some point between 1925 and 1929 the rear wheels changed to a design featuring 20 flat iron spokes rather than 12 flat iron spokes. It does appear that alternative designs were available as some Model Ds sport skeleton rear wheels or tip toe rear wheels. Some producers found their soil conditions warranted different wheels than the standard designs.

John Deere claimed that the two cylinder engine design made possible a short, properly heated manifold with both cylinders equidistant from the carburetor. The gasified fuel traveled only a few inches, each cylinder received the same charge, with combustion taking place immediately after the cylinder was charged. This meant there was no chance for the fuel to re-liquefy.  The Model “D” could burn low-cost fuels such as distillate, furnace oil, fuel oil, stove tops, Turner Valley naphtha, some grades of Diesel oil, and other money-saving fuels successfully, as well as gasoline or kerosene. When burning these fuels the tractor would be started on gasoline, allowed to warm up and then switched over to the low cost fuel. The gas tank featured two compartments, a small one for gas and a large compartment for kerosene or low cost fuel. A three way valve could switch between tanks as well as featuring an off position. Usually to shut the tractor down the operator just turned the selection valve to the off position and let the tractor run out of fuel, draining the carburetor in preparation for starting on gas.

John Deere further claimed, to help in the combustion of low -cost fuels, the relatively slow-speed, two-cylinder engine allowed more time for the complete combustion of these heavier, slower-burning fuels. The combination of short, hot manifold with the gasified fuel traveling the same distance to each cylinder, and slower engine speed also reduced harmful oil dilution in a John Deere Model “D” Tractor when burning low cost fuels, resulting in far longer life of all engine parts. 

Apparently some Ds in Southern Alberta and in Montana even burnt light sweet crude oil for fuel. When burning this fuel, often a different manifold was used with the exhaust coming out on the opposite side of the tractor. This manifold design was hotter and better vaporized the crude oil than the standard manifold.  However it was a common practice when burning crude oil to actually drain excess oil out of the crankcase at the end of the day. Not all the crude oil was burnt in the cylinder and the unburnt ”ends” were wiped off the cylinder walls and swept into the crankcase by the pistons.


John Deere Model H Tractor (Eliason)

John Deere Model H Tractor

The August Eliason Estate donated this John Deere Model H tractor to the Manitoba Agricultural Museum.

John Deere Model H Tractor

August was born in 1904 to parents who had immigrated to North America from Iceland. They moved to a farm near Arnes, Manitoba. August farmed for a time and then moved to Gimli where he operated a blacksmith and welding shop. When he retired he moved back to the farm where he restored farm machinery. The collected machinery, which included this John Deere Model H, was later donated to the Museum. Magnus Eliason was August Eliason’s younger brother. Magnus was a founding member of the Commonwealth Cooperative Federation and a Winnipeg City Councilor for a number of years.  

John Deere introduced the Model H in 1939. John deere recognized that there were large numbers of farmers who still used horses to farm. A small utility tractor which could replace a horse had the potential to sell in large  numbers. So John Deere produced the Model H rated at 9.68 horsepower on the drawbar and 12.97 horsepower at the belt pulley. The Model H met a small farmers needs for power and it was also a useful tractor to larger farmers who had jobs where the power of a larger tractor was unneeded.  

All Model Hs were equipped with a three speed gear box. As the Model H began production in 1939, all Model Hs were styled. The H followed the outline established by the Model A and had a narrow, tapered hood which allowed for excellent visibility. A complete line of matched implements, including mounted 2 row cultivators was produced for the H.  

The Model H left production in 1947, being replaced in the line up by the John Deere Model M tractor.

John Deere Model D (1925)

KX Camera
KX Camera
John Deer Model D (1925)

The 1925 John Deere Model D tractor was donated to the museum in 1961 by Dan Campbell of Chater, Manitoba. Mr. Campbell purchased it used in 1927 from the John Deere dealer in Brandon. When the tractor was new, it had been purchased by a farmer at Alexander, Manitoba.

The tractor was used for field work on the Campbell farm such as plowing and harrowing however draft horses were still used for other work such as seeding. cutting hay and so on. Dan Campbell, along with his brothers who also farmed in the Chater area, operated a steam threshing outfit until 1939. After that date, Dan operated his own threshing machine, a 24-inch Woods Brothers machine using the D to power it. In 1942, the tractor was rebuilt with a newer block featuring  6.75-inch diameter cylinders, new rings and valves. The tractor from the factory came with a 6.5-inch bore block. The orginal Dixie magneto was replaced with a Wico magneto as the Dixie was worn out. In 1947, Mr. Campbell purchased a new D and the 1925 D was relegated to secondary duties such as harrowing and belt work. By 1957, the tractor was not in use on the farm. After a period of inactivity, it was donated by Mr. Campbell who was involved with the Manitoba Agricultural Museum almost from the very start. He served as Director in 1953.

John Deere Ds were manufactured from 1923 to 1953 with production totalling 159,083. Over the course of production various changes and updates were made. The first Ds came equipped with an open spoke flywheel  and these early tractors came to be known as “spoker” Ds. By 1925 solid “disc” flywheels were being installed as the spoked flywheels were prone to cracking. As production of Ds continued, improvements were made such as power take offs, an updated transmission with three forward speeds instead of the orginal two, rubber tires, oil filters and updated steering gear. In 1939 John Deere introduced styled bodywork and fenders which made the later Ds look significantly different from the unstyled Ds. However under the tin, they were largely the same from a mechanical point of view. The last Ds built could be ordered with electric starting, electric lights and hydraulics.

A visitor can easily track these changes as the museum has a number of Ds in its collections. A visitor can easily compare Ds to see the changes made over the years the tractor was in production.

To complete the comparison a visitor can examine the two Waterloo Boy tractors in the museum’s collections. The Waterloo Gasoline Engine Company which built the Waterloo Boy was purchased by John Deere in 1918. Waterloo Boy production continued until 1923; however, by that time the design was getting rather dated. John Deere discovered after its purchase of the Waterloo Gasoline Engine Company, that the company was experimenting with a new tractor design that used the basic engine  design used by the Waterloo Boy tractors combined with a cast iron “bathtub” enclosing the transmission with the final drive. John Deere continued development of this design which finally resulted in the Model D design. When one examines the 1925 D, one will notice that the transmission top is cast iron with the words “Waterloo Gasoline Engine Co. Waterloo Iowa, U.S.A.” cast into the top.

Page revised: 7 December 2022