From his high school days until now, Jim Junion of New Franken, Wis., has been tied to a 1955 model John Deere 70 gas tractor. It was purchased off the showroom floor at Jerry Wier Implement in Luxemburg by his father, Lawrence, for $4,500, along with a 3-foot, 14-inch mounted plow. The transaction included trading in a model 101 Massey-Harris Sr.
Originally priced at $2,800, and one of 43,000 tractors manufactured in Waterloo, Iowa, this row crop John Deere was primarily used for field cultivating, green chopping and other chores.
“My first job was plowing, and since I was handy with a tractor, it was always an easy task for me,” Junion says. “Converting from the Massey to the Deere proved much more efficient, because 10 acres, or about an acre per hour, could be covered in a day. My mother, Magdalene, always called the 70 her tractor. She drove it most of the time, especially in the spring running the field cultivator, and felt a strong attachment to her Johnny.”
Rated at 50.86 horsepower, its basic features included: a wide front end, three-point hitch, rear PTO, 24.5-gallon fuel tank, six forward and two reverse speeds, high and low shift, tachometer, gear speed indicator, attached toolbox behind the engine, electric starter, and top road speed of 16 mph.
Four different models were built: the 70, the diesel 70D, the high-crop 70 and the standard (Wheatland) 70S. Introduced in April 1953 with a gasoline or all-fuel engine, the model 70 replaced the model G. It had an all-new engine, much-improved operation features and comfort, better hydraulics, live PTO, power steering, rack and pinion rear tread adjustment, and a 12-volt electrical system.
While still on the home farm, the Junions’ tractor was overhauled in 1978, which included putting in new pistons and rings. In 1985, after working approximately 4,000 hours, the 70 was passed along to Junion. He changed all the oil in the gear boxes and engine, had it repainted — even though there were no significant dents or scratches — and put on new tires and a seat cushion.
“Today the tractor sits on plastic and carpeting in the garage. I take it to neighboring shows and run the 70 in a few parades,” Junion adds. “That model exhibited superior gas efficiency, provided a comfortable ride on the high seat and could not be matched while operating that model plow. I always felt like a proud driver. It’s truly my favorite, and so special due to the heritage and that it came from Dad off the home farm.”
Persinger lives in Milwaukee. To have your favorite tractor featured, send in a photo of yourself with your tractor, along with a 300-word write-up about the tractor, to: Wisconsin Agriculturist, P.O. Box 236, Brandon, WI 53919.