The LI
Industrial version of the John Deere Model "L"
Built from 1938-1946
Around 2500 LIs built

This is a picture of an LI that was in the middle of a group. I just cut out the rest of the tractors. Click on the picture to see more pictures of LIs.
See more pictures of LIs, here.
See serial number lists for the LIs, here.
See ways to learn the year of an LI without the serial number tag, here.

There were three types of LIs in production. They were, according to Two Cylinder Magazine:
  • Unstyled
    • Built in 1938, about 70 made
  • Styled, with Hercules engine
    • Built from 1938-1940, approximately 434 made
  • Styled, with John Deere engine
    • Built from 1941-1946, 2019 made
Actually, the LI wasn't an official version until 1941. Before than, the tractors still used the "L" serial number tag and were considered normal Ls, with industrial options. But these versions were so popular that the separate designation of "LI" was made for the 1941 model year. Today all are usually considered LIs.

But like everything I have seen for the LI there is a contradiction to this, tractor number 625000, and 626919 (1938 model year) have a tags that say "IL" (this means it is an LI). If anyone else has an early LI, let me know what the tag says, please!

Changes from the L to the LI
(1941 and later, from many sources, including parts books)
  • LI uses the LA solid frame, while L uses a tube frame (however, there are numerous exceptions during production. It seems that most LIs still actually used the tube frame.)
  • Two front head lights, and rear facing red marker light on left fender (only one headlight for "L")
  • High speed ring gear and pinion
    • Makes a 3rd gear (road gear) speed of 10 MPH
    • (Copied directly from an email)
      "After replacing bearings on several Ls, LAs, had to replace some on 44 LI recently. While examining ring gear and pinion gears I compared parts to LA. The cluster and drivegears are the same as LA, but the pinion gear which drives the ring gear in the back side of transmission is almost double the diameter of an L or LA, which in turn gives the LI axle more speed at low RPM. If anyone has transmission out of tractor they can take off rear 8 or 10 bolts, remove pan and can see pinion gear clearly and know by its large diameter that the transmission is LI. This is a positive way of knowing you have an LI."
  • High Speed Transport Attachment
    • A foot throttle used to override the governor, and provide 13-16 MPH speeds! It seems that there are no records on how much this increased the RPMs. However a couple best guesses from very knowledgeable people (not me!) say about to 1750-1800 RPM.
  • Rear Tool Box
  • Gasoline tank from the LA (Eight gallon, instead of six in the normal L)
  • Cast iron steering box mount (later tractors, to correct problems found with original)
  • Shorter front axle spindles
    • This is partially true. The LI could be fitted with the normal L front axle, which had a spindle height of 11 3/4 inches. However the optional 51" wide axle was most often fitted to the LI for greater stability. This axle had shorter front spindles of 8 3/4 inches in height. Many LIs were shorter-but not all. (Thanks to a visitor of the site for the help!)
Wheels and Rims for the LI

Specifications of the LI

Tranmission Speeds (MPH)
1= 3
2= 4 1/4
3= 8 1/2
Governor Override in 3rd= 13-16
Reverse= 2 1/2
Clyinders= 2
Bore= 3 1/4 inches
Stroke= 4 inches
RPM= 1550
Fuel= Gasoline
Fuel Tank Capacity= 8 (U.S. Gallons)
Cooling Capacity= 2 1/2 (U.S. Gallons)
Standard Wheel Size (inches)
Front= 4.00x15
Rear= 6.00x22
Dimensions (inches)
Length= 91
Width= 49
Height= 57
Weight= 1550 pounds (For Thin Wall tube) or
1735 pounds (possiblly for solid frame)

Serial number tag was always located on top of the Rear Axle, right side. It was often knocked off, or made illegable, because this was the normal location of the operator's foot.