My Grandfather's DI, #140337
It started the idea for this website...
See some pictures of the DI, here.
It began about 3 to 4 years ago, when my grandpa pulled his old Case VAC out of the chicken coop (not used for chickens anymore, just storage). Someone got the idea of fixing the Case up. I had no idea what it was, or what to do. All I did was scrape grease, and wirebrush some of the rust off. My dad did about all of the work. Once it was done I was hooked. I could drive it around the field for a long time. Steel seat and all.
During the winter, while visiting my grandparents, I noticed a magazine called "Green Magazine". I already had old tractor fever, and this only fueled the fire. It was the January 1998 issue. My grandparents had no idea why they got it; it just came in the mail. My grandma gave it to me.
Then a little later;in early 1998, I noticed a rusty "thing" in the back of the shed. My grandpa and I crawled around all of the junk, and tried to find the serial number. We got it, but in the dim light, some of the numbers were wrong. While looking at it, I saw some numbers on the radiator. I was still ignorant about such things. It began with "48...." I thought it meant the year. It was actually just a casting code, or part number. I only knew it was a John Deere.
In April, grandpa pulled it out, found a man to fix the magneto, and got it running by pulling it with another tractor. I came along later in the week, with a book from the library, and I saw that it was a John Deere Model D; somewhere between 1935 and 1938. We had the right serial number at this point. As I looked at the book, I came across a short description, and a couple pictures of a Model DI (industrial). I jokingly told my family as we stood in the shed that it could be a "DI". It had extra controls, like the description, the rims/wheels were the same as the pictures, and just under the grease, you could see a few specks of yellow and green paint.
Little did I know, I had just made an amazing guess...
We drove it around for about ten minutes, the flat front tire, flopping around, almost off the rim. When we got off it, just listening to the loud bangs and pops from the engine, my dad mentioned, "Don't touch the magneto.", I was stumped, wondering where the magneto was. I finally asked, pointing in the general direction of the belt pulley, "Is that the magneto?" Nope....I had alot to learn! The flat tire was later replaced.
I spent alot of time that summer, scraping grease off the tractor. I noticed that there was green paint under the grease. But, in alot of places, there was yellow paint underneath the green. Did John Deere use yellow primer? Would Deere even care, back in 1938?
Later that year, the John Deere was moved from my grandpa's farm, to our house (much to my dad's dismay). I got the pleasure of driving it down the trails in the woods, to our place. It ran out of gas, just at the top of a hill. Luckily it was just far enough away, so that it didn't roll back down.
The tractor was cleaned up even more, with the trusty putty knife. I was ready to "restore" the poor tractor. But it wasn't to be. It wasn't going to be an easy fix like the Case. It needed fenders, and plenty of engine work. The compression was so low, that it couldn't be hand-started. I could even turn it over! The valves, pistons, and rings, probably all needed work.
I later decided to order a few books from Green Magazine. I also noticed in the "Back Issues" section, that the December 1997 issue included an article about the DI. I thought that the article would be interesting, so I asked my mom to order it for me along with the books. She ordered the stuff from work. By this time the December issue couldn't be ordered. But a nice woman at G.M. faxed the article about the DI to my mom.
Later that week, I was reading the article with semi-interest, when I saw a list of the DI serial numbers in the end of the article. I decided, why not? I'll go check the serial number of the D. I went down to the shed with a flashlight, because it was dark. The tractor sat beside the shed. I read the serial number off of the tractor, then I checked the list. No...No...No.........a match? I looked again. The serial number-140337, was on the list! I almost had a heart attack!
I ran to the house as fast as I could. I yelled, "It's a DI!!! It's one of a hundred!!!" over and over. I babbled some facts about the DI to my parents. Then I had to check again, I just had to. I went back outside, I tried to be calm. YES! It still matched! It was hard to go to sleep that night...The worst part, was that my grandparents were out of town at a horse show (they have Clydesdales, as a hobby). They wouldn't be back for a week. I was going to explode! Finally they came back, at night. The next day, I went over; article in hand. I tried to be as calm as possible. First-I jokingly asked my grandpa if I could have the John Deere for a dollar. He counter-offered Five dollars. I told him, that before I bought it, he might want to know something. I showed him the article and told him about his tractor being a rare DI. The value of the tractor soon skyrocketed out of the range of my pocketbook!
That fall (1998), we took the Case, the John Deere DI, and a 1928 John Deere D; which had been owned by my great-grandfather, to the local tractor show. It was a lot of fun. At that show, we met a man who owned DI #141092; which was the only other DI shipped to Ohio. For some reason, I never wrote down his name. A few years later, in 2001, I was contacted by his neighbor over email, and managed to get his name and phone number!
Following that show, we haven't done much to the DI. It just sits there. Hasn't even gone to another show. "Too much work to get it there." according to my dad.
History of 1938 John Deere DI, Serial Number 140337
Built: March 9, 1938
Shipped: April 6, 1938
Destination: Toledo, Ohio
Big Blank, from 1938-1960s
1960s-Owner Harold Ringler, of Rochester, Ohio. Had been used my grandfather(working for Harold) for plowing. Supposedly, my great grandfather (Wade) had hauled it to him with his truck from around Toledo (maybe!), while my grandpa was still a kid.
1968-Sold to my grandfather, who also used it for plowing.
Once was entered in a tractor pull. My grandfather had to drain all the oil out of the transmission to get into the weight class. All it did was spin the tires! It was too light! He says he put the same oil back in. Knowing the maintence schedule he keeps with machinery now...almost never, I believe him.
1978-Parked because of problems with the carburetor-it would only run at full speed. Just think, the tractor had been worked hard for forty years at this point! You would think something would go wrong!
April 5, 1998-Pulled out of corner of grandfather's shed. Magneto fixed, although the carburetor is still bad. Started for the first time in about 15 years. Been obsessed over by me ever since.
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