A Look Back at the Model D

A Look Back at the Model D
Jul 07, 2023

Celebrating Vintage Machines: the early allure of John Deere Model D

By JP McDonald

Just as it was back in George Washington's day, every farmer knows the thrill of witnessing their crops flourish after a much-needed rain and the joy of riding on your first tractor.

If we delve into history through the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, we can uncover the remarkable story behind John Deere's rise to prominence. It started with early design experiments in 1910 and then led to the acquisition of the Waterloo Gasoline Engine Company in 1918 which marked the beginning of a revolutionary era for John Deere.

By 1936, John Deere tractors accounted for a staggering 40% of annual sales. The Deere um, nestled on the hallowed grounds of Deere's original manufacturing site in Waterloo, Iowa stands as a testament to the brand's enduring impact.

The company's first tractor bearing the John Deere name made its debut in 1923 with the John Deere Model D tractor. The Waterloo Boy was superseded by it in their product lineup. One of its distinguishing characteristics was a two-cylinder kerosene-burning engine that generated 15 horsepower at the drawbar and 22 horsepower at the belt.

The Model D also has an enclosed driving train and a high-tension igniting system. Farmers could purchase the Model D for roughly $1,000 in the middle of the 1920s. In 1966, Deere & Company made a kind donation by sending a Model D and a Waterloo Boy tractor to the Smithsonian Institution. The Model D belonging to the Smithsonian, with serial number 30940, weighs more than two tons.

Farmers shifted their preference from steam traction engines to internal combustion engine tractors after the introduction of the Hart-Parr line of tractors in 1903. They sought lighter and more practical tractors that could handle various tasks, including field and belt work.

Reliability and the availability of dealer support became key considerations for farmers, prompting them to choose dependable machines that could be repaired by experts. The Model D faced competition from other tractor manufacturers like McCormick-Deering, Hart-Parr, and Rumely in meeting farmers' evolving needs.

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