When it comes to selecting his favorite tractor, Donald Henderson of Elkhorn is partial to a 1952 John Deere model B with a tricycle front axle. He grew up driving and cultivating with this machine while working for several neighbors while he was in high school. After getting married and receiving a master's degree in agricultural engineering, he moved to Nigeria and worked for a program sponsored by the U.S. Agency for International Development.
Upon returning to Wisconsin, Henderson spent 35 years with John Deere in design engineering, field service product support, tractor and engine manufacturing, and the lawn and garden division.
“Since I always liked the John Deere B, I purchased one in 2001 for $3,000. At that time, the tires and paint on the machine were in very good condition,” he says.
Features on that two-cylinder model include: narrow front end, two lights in the front and one in the back, six forward and one reverse gears, hand clutch, hydraulic lift, Roll-O-Matic front tires, PTO, batteries under the seat, belt pulley, drawbar and magneto to provide spark and electric starter.
Henderson recalls that sometimes the individual brakes would heat up, burning the paint off the drum if he forgot to release the brake lock. The model B was introduced as a smaller tractor to fill the needs of row-crop farmers who did not need a tractor as large as the model A. It was manufactured in Waterloo, Iowa, and had nearly a 20-year production run.
“This model was built between 1935 and 1952, and the overall style improved each decade. It was easy to start and maintain. Today I take it to various shows,” Henderson says. “The B is my favorite tractor because I always liked the simplicity of the two-cycle tractors, plus there are countless memories driving it when I was a kid.”
To have your favorite tractor featured, send in a photo of yourself with your tractor, along with a 150-word write-up about the tractor to: Wisconsin Agriculturist, P.O. Box 236, Brandon, WI 53919.