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Owner prefers steel-wheeled John Deere

My Favorite Tractor: Ryan Stier restored this 1927 vintage model D.

Harlen Persinger

November 29, 2023

3 Min Read
Ryan Stier standing with his steel-wheeled John Deere model D tractor
NEW FAVORITE: The John Deere model D is a perfect addition to Ryan Stier’s collection, which includes a 1928 Fordson model F, 1929 Allis-Chalmers model 20-35, 1939 Allis-Chalmers model WC and 1941 John Deere model H. HARLEN PERSINGER

Ryan Stier from Richfield, Wis., is the third owner of a 1927 John Deere model D tractor. Initially, Hass Farm in Lisbon, Wis., purchased it off the showroom floor from their local dealer.

In late 1975, David Rankin from Hartford, Wis., picked up the D at an auction. He and his wife, Eunice, drove it away from the sale and it was known as the wedding tractor. Rankin was also known for his magneto collection and repair service that Stier has taken over.

Plowing tractor

“The D, serial number 48495, became part Rankin’s tractor collection and was mainly used for plowing,” Stier says. “He was a third cousin to my dad, Philip, and while growing up, I would hop on and help drive around shows. Fitted with a lever clutch, it was easy to operate. I was able to buy it in November 2016 — winched it out of his barn and loaded it onto my trailer. The cost was $2,250.

“Since water had not been drained prior to winter, the cylinder block was trashed. I rebuilt the carburetor and worked on it off and on for two years. I added 3 feet of weld on the block and a new head to get it to run properly.” Stier is an iron welder and a project manager for S.P.F. Inc. in Little Chute, Wis.

“I never sandblasted anything or repainted, but applied a linseed oil and mineral spirit to restore patina. I also removed the lugs off the rear wheels and someday will add new decals, once I find someone who does quality silkscreen lettering,” he says.

This two-cylinder letter series standard-tread tractor was manufactured in Waterloo, Iowa, from 1923 to 1953. There were 56,929 units made, and the original cost in 1924 was $1,000. Features include an operator station, steel pan seat, two-wheel drive, manual steering, 23.5-gallon-capacity fuel tank, unsynchronized gear transmission, three forward and one reverse gear, and a rating of 38 hp on the drawbar and 42 hp on the belt. There were integrated mechanical brakes; differential steering brakes were optional. The tractor weighed 5,662 to 6,000 pounds and had an 8.2-liter, two-cylinder, all-fuel liquid-cooled engine.

It was a heavy standard tractor with fixed wheel widths, as opposed to the adjustable wheels of a row crop tractor. By 1935, steel wheels were being phased out in favor of rubber wheels. It was equipped as an all-fuel tractor, able to operate with gasoline, kerosene or distillate. In 1939, the D received John Deere brand-style changes with updated hoods and grilles. It kept the “D” designation throughout production and never changed to a number. It had the longest run of any John Deere tractor.

Perfect addition

Stier takes the D to the Sussex Antique Power Association annual show and also plans to attend Rumley Acres in Cleveland, Wis. The tractor is a perfect addition to his collection, which includes a 1928 Fordson model F, 1929 Allis-Chalmers model 20-35, 1939 Allis-Chalmers model WC and 1941 John Deere model H.

“Dad got me into picking up some old machines, and this was my first John Deere. It’s a favorite because I was able to make the financial investment myself, got it operating again, and I have a soft spot for steel-wheeled tractors,” Stier says. “The D might be valued at $5,000 to $10,000 now, but it’s worth much more to me. When I fire it up, my kids Adeline, Jakob and Timothy come running so they can get a ride. Hopefully, they will keep giving it some TLC in the future.”

Persinger writes from Milwaukee. To have your favorite tractor featured, email or send in a photo of yourself with your tractor, along with a 300-word write-up about the tractor, to: [email protected] or Wisconsin Agriculturist, P.O. Box 236, Brandon, WI 53919.

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