Mike Burkholder has a new planter sitting in his tool shed on his farm in St. Joseph County. If he's lucky, maybe he's out in the field with it today. Sitting nearby when the planter is in the shed is an older tractor.
While he loves the new planter, he says the tractor is still his pride and joy. It's a John Deere 520 two-lunger, or at least that's what it says. Mike says it was built in 1952.
If you're a John Deere history or tractor buff, you know that doesn't add up. The 40, 50, 60 and 70 tractors were introduced by John Deere in the early 1950s. The 430, 5320, 630 and 730 came along later in the decade. So how does Mike have a tractor built three years before its time?
It's really not a 530, he explains. "It's a John Deere 50. My dad had a Deere 720. At some point he thought the 50 needed repainting. For whatever reason, I guess so they would look alike, when he redid the Deere 50, he used decals and the paint scheme from the John Deere '20 series that was produced later. Someday I'll likely restore it with proper details and markings to look like an original John Deere 50 tractor.
Mike fires the tractor up easily, and that familiar putt-putt sound is still sweet music to the ears. He says he had to rebuild part of the starting mechanism because it was so worn it wouldn't start easily. Now it starts like a charm.
Expect to see this tractor featured in a future edition of Tractor Treasures in Indiana Prairie Farmer. This is just the kind of story we are looking for – what makes a tractor special to you. If you have a tractor with a story, send a print to: Indiana Prairie Farmer, P.O. Box 347, Franklin, IN 46131. Or email a quality digital print to firstname.lastname@example.org.
By the way, it's not for sale. Mike says it will likely be the last thing he parts with. That's saying something with a new planter either in the field or ready to go to the field right now.
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