The 1948 John Deere A in Richard and Steve Fellow’s toolshed is there to stay. It carries markings near the rear wheels that probably mean as much to the family as the official John Deere lettering on the tractor. On one side, it says: “Dad’s tractor”; the other side says: “Papaw’s tractor.”
“Dad [Ray] bought this tractor new in 1948,” Steve says. The Fellows farm near New Washington, Ind. Ray passed away several years ago.
“When he brought it home, the story goes that neighbors said no one needed a tractor that big,” Steve continues. “Dad bought a new tractor about every 10 years. Next was a John Deere 620. When he bought a 4020 and plow later, neighbors allowed no tractor could pull a plow that big.”
The A wasn’t too big for their farm, and the 4020 pulled the plow, Steve recalls. While the A may be small by today’s standards, it was a good-size tractor in 1948. Steve is a former ag teacher and oversaw many tractor restoration projects in the shop. However, this A was restored in the farm shop at home, he notes.
Just how big was the John Deere A? According to tractordata.com, John Deere began producing the third major version of the A model in 1947. The 1948 was rated at 34 drawbar horsepower, and tested out at 34.14 hp. It was rated at 38 hp on the belt pulley, and produced just over 38 hp in an official test.
It featured a 5.3-liter, two-cylinder engine. By 1952, list price for the A was $2,400. Production of the series finally ended in 1952. John Deere model A tractors did not have power steering.