The John Deere Model D bearing the Serial No. 123360: The Ramona Kansas Tractor
Brian Wayne Wells
This article remains under construction. Periodically, new blocks of text will appear in the article and/or current blocks of text will be corrected.
As noted in the article called “Alfred Fulcher and the Cresco Implement Company of Cresco, Iowa” which is included as part of this website and blog, Wells Family Tractors obtained a 1935 “unstyled” John Deere Model D tractor upon the recommendation of Marilyn (Hanks) Wells, mother of the current author. Marilyn Wells had always been intrigued by the Model D because a 1931 version of the tractor had been the first tractor that her father, Howard B. Hanks, grandfather of the current author, had ever owned.
This 1931 two-speed Model D was first purchased by John T. Goff in 1931 from Beske Implement of Minnesota Lake, Minnesota. The story of this 1931 John Deere Model D is contained in an article called “Beske Implement of Minnesota Lake, Minnesota” which is contained in this website and blog. Howard and his wife, Ethel (Buck) Hanks, rented the John T. Goff farm in Mapleton, Minnesota in 1935 and continued to operate the farm until March 1, 1945, when they purchased the “Bagan farm” in Beaver Township, Fillmore County, Minnesota, near LeRoy, Minnesota.
While on the Goff farm Howard Hanks used the 1931 Model D on a near daily basis and came to appreciate power farming. Thus, in 1945, as the Hanks family moved off the Goff farm to take possession of the Bagan farm in Fillmore county, they purchased the 1931 John Deere Model D from John T. Goff and transported the tractor to the Bagan farm near LeRoy, Minnesota.
By 1950, Howard and his oldest son Fred Hanks, were farming the Bagan farm as a partnership. Fred had been pushing to modernize the farm with newer farm machinery. Thus, when Howard and Fred were on Sunday afternoon sightseeing trip in August of 1950, they saw a 1935 three-speed John Deere Model D sitting on the used tractor lot of the John Deere dealership in Cresco, Iowa, they decided to stop and look at the tractor. In the post-World War II era old steel-wheeled, two-speed tractors like the 1931 Model D with its top speed of only 3-1/4 miles per hour, were really becoming obsolete on a modern post-war farm. However, Howard loved the old Model D. While recognizing the shortcomings of the 1931, two-speed Model D, he was favorably disposed toward obtaining this newer version of the same tractor–especially a Model D with rubber tires and a 5 mile an hour top speed. Accordingly, Howard and Fred purchased the 1935 Model D from the Cresco Implement Company in exchange for the 1931 Model D and some additional “boot” money. This 1935 Model continued to be employed on the Bagan (now Hanks) farm until the 1970s, when the tractor was sent to the Francis Mims junk yard.
A more detailed discussion of this 1935 Model D is contained in the article called Al Fulcher and the Cresco Implement Company dealership which is a part of this website and is cited above.
In the summer of 2015, Marilyn (Hanks) Wells successfully purchased the 1950 Farmall M, that had been purchased new in 1950 by Marilyn Wells and her late husband, Wayne A. Wells, father of the current author. (The story of this 1950 Farmall M is contained in a separate articl at this website.) The purchase of this Farmall M encouraged her to suggest that she would like to restore a John Deere Model D like the tractor she remembered her father, Howard Hanks, owning and operating during her childhood.
The current author set to work attempting to locate a John Deere D for her. He finally located a 1935 three-speed Model D owned by Chris Wyman, which was for sale. After some negotiation a deal was concluded by which Chris Wyman and his sons would sell the tractor to Wells Family Tractors and restore the tractor to working order. This was the Model D that bears the serial number 123360.
Research of the serial number with the John Deere production records (now in the possession of the Two-Cylinder Club of Grundy, Iowa), revealed that No. 123360 was built at the Waterloo Tractor Works on June 17, 1935 and shipped out the same day to small town of Ramona, Kansas (1930 pop. 240). Accordingly, the Model D bearing the serial number 123360, was nicknamed the “Ramona tractor.”
More research revealed that in 1935, the John Deere dealership in Ramona, Kansas, was called the Tatge Brothers Implement dealership. The Tatge brothers were area farmers in rural Ramona, who had done well at farming and had expanded into selling John Deere tractors and farm equipment from their two dealerships in Ramona and Herington, Kansas.
The serial number of the three-speed Model D owned by Howard Hanks is not now known nor is the serial number retrievable because the tractor went to the Mims Junkyard in the 1970s and was probably cut up for scrap metal at that time. Still because the Howard Hanks three-speed John Deere Model D and and the Ramona tractor were made in 1935, the curiosity of the current author was aroused to find out how closely two Model D tractors were to each other in terms of serial number and build date. Accordingly, the current author began to research the Parts Book and the Production Log of the Waterloo Tractor Works for the John Deere Model D.
The Production Log of the Waterloo Tractor Works states that 5,980 individual John Deere Model D tractors built in the year 1935. Also the Production Log clearly shows that the 1935 annual production year is not the “calendar year” e.g. from January 1 to December 31, 1935. Rather it is the “model year” which stretched from November 1, 1934 to October 31, 1935. The Production Log provides us with the monthly total of John Deere D tractors made for each month of 1935. For Example in June of 1935, the Production Log indicates that 631 John Deere Model D tractors were produced. Spread over the 20 working days of the month of June, 1935, this means that between 31 and 32 Model D tractors were produced on average every day in the month of June, 1935.
Over the course of the “production year” 1935 many significant changes were made to the John Deere Model D. The Parts Book for the John Deere Model D shows all the individual parts that were used to build the Model D. The Parts Book also includes all replacement parts or changes in the parts as they occurred throughout the entire production run of the John Deere D. Additionally, these new parts or changed parts are indexed in the Parts Book to the specific serial number of the individual tractor which was first fitted with the new or changed part. Thus, the combined use of the yearly Serial Number Index, the Production Log and the Parts Book together, can reveal nearly the exact date that those particular changes in the parts were made.
One of the most significant modifications of the Model D tractor in 1935 was the change from a 10-spline rear axle to a 12-spline rear axle. The Parts Book for the Model D tractor informs us that this change occurred at the serial number 124193. The old 10-spline axle is easily identified because of the threading located on the end of the axles. This threading was made so that a hub cap could be screwed on to the end of both rear axles on all Model D tractors after No. 124193. The hub cap was decorated with a “JD” which is easily identifiable from pictures of the Howard Hanks three-speed John Deere Model D.
No. 124193 (the first Model D fitted with 12-spline rear axles) was only 833 tractors behind the the Ramona Kansas tractor bearing the serial number 123360 in rolling off the assembly line at the Waterloo Tractor Works. At the rate of 32 tractors per day, number No. 124193 was built 26 working days after 123360. We know that No. 123360 was built on Monday June 17, 1935. Thus, using the average number of Model D tractors produced on a daily basis, we can deduce that 124193 with its new 12-spline axles rolled off the assembly line at Waterloo on July 24, 1935.
We can see from old pictures of the Howard Hanks 1935 John Deere Model D that this tractor also was fitted with the decorative “JD” hub. Thus, both the Ramona tractor and the Howard Hanks three-speed Model D both are older than the tractor bearing the serial number 124193. This means that both tractors were fitted with the 10-spline.
The John Deere Model D bearing the Serial No. 123360 which was shipped from the Waterloo Tractor Works on June 17, 1935 and shipped to Tatge Implement in Ramona, Kansas. The hub on the axle of the rear wheel does have the “JD” hub cap attached. This shows that No. 123360 is fitted with the 10-spline rear axle.[/caption]
There is no way of knowing the serial number of the 1935 Model D tractor purchased by Howard Hanks in 1950. However, many of the features of No. 123360 indicate that the Howard Hanks Model D was very close serial number production to the Ramona, Kansas Model D bearing the serial number 123360. Most significantly, all John Deere Model D tractors after serial number 124193 were made with a 12-spline rear axle. All Model D tractors prior to that time were made with 10-spline rear axles. No. 123360 has a 10-spline axle and so too did the Howard Hanks 1935 John Deere Model D.
By comparing the Howard Hanks 1935 John Deere Model D which was written about in the article called “Alfred Fulcher and the Cresco Implement Company in Cresco, Iowa” which is a part of this website. Thus, although the serial number of the three-speed Model D owned by Howard Hanks is not now known nor retrievable, but because of the rationale outlined at the end of the article on the “Cresco Implement Company of Cresco, Iowa” which has been cited above, we have reason to believe that the unknown serial number is quite close to the Serial No. 123360. Indeed, the serial number of the Howard Hanks John Deere Model D is falls some where between serial number 109943 and 124193. Despite the fact that the two tractors are quite close in serial numbers the histories of the two tractors are completely unknown. However, we can make some reasonable assumptions.
Located in the central portion of North America is a great agricultural bread basket of the entire United States and Canada. However, this great agricultural bread basket is divided into two large zones. These two zones are divided are from each other almost precisely along the north to south 100th Meridian. On the east side of the 100th Meridian, is the relatively wet and cooler Midwestern United States. The rich soil of the this midwestern area permitted farmers of the Midwest to grow row crops like corn and beans. In the Midwest rainfall was sufficient to permit these row crops to thrive and return a good income to farm families.
To the west of the north/south 100th Meridian the land is much flatter than in the Midwest. Without the trees and forests that are found in the Midwest. This area west of the , here the to grow area h s east
Despite the fact of the the closeness of the serial number of the Howard Hanks 1935 John Deere Model D to the 1935 Model D bearing the Serial Number 123360, the early histories of both tractors is basically unknown, We have some clues as to the the early histories of the tractors. Further research has allowed us to speculate with some accuracy on early history of the tractor.
In 1935, the economy of the United States agriculture was
This is especially true of the the early history of the Ramona tractor bearing the Serial No. 123360. Of course, having the serial number allowed us to find out that the tractor was built on June 17, 1935 and shipped out the same day to Ramona, Kansas.
Waterloo, Iowa, (1930 pop. 46,191) is one of those small manufacturing cities that populate the otherwise agricultural mid-western United States. As such, Waterloo is well endowed with a variety of railroad connections. The Illinois Central Railroad, the Great Western Railway and the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railway are just three of the railroads that have connections in Waterloo. Thus, Deere and Company with their John Deere Tractor Works located in Waterloo, has a wide selection of choices for which railroads to use when shipping its tractors from the Tractor Works to the various dealerships across the nation.
In the spring of 1935 a dealership in Ramona known as the Tage Bros. Implement was starting to notice that the public in their sales area was starting to make inquires about the purchases of John Deere Model D tractors of sell a substantial number of John Deere Model D tractors. n sdsSo when an order came in from their local “branch house” or regional warehouse in Kansas City, Missouri for a load of ato Waterloo from
In the case of No. 123360 which was destined for the local John Deere dealership in Ramona, Kansas, umber aAlong with One of the railroads that served Waterloo, Iowa, were owned by the Chicago, Rock and, thus, was regularly used by Deere and Company to use ship tractors from their Tractor Works factory in Waterloo to dealerships around the nation. Indeed in this case the tracks of the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad–nicknamed the “Rock Island Railroad.” Furthermore the only railroad tracks that served the small town of Ramona, Kansas (1930 pop. 240) were the tracks of the Rock Island (C.R.I. & P.) Railroad. Thus, we can deduce that on June 17, 1935, No. 123360 rolled off the assembly line at the Waterloo Tractor Works. No. 123360 engine was started for the first time and the tractor was driven out of the factory under its own power. Once outside the tractor was loaded onto a railroad flat car with a number of other tractors. Once a number of flatcars had been loaded at the John Deere plant in Waterloo, they were joined to a Rock Island train that headed south out of Waterloo, toward .
These tractors would be delivered to dealerships in the towns along the tracks as the tos nd C.along the way to the south and west and of the was loaded up the a Rock Island the
, f the , E the stories of and research wweebthe two tractors were shipped from the Waterloo, Iowa Tractor Works to completly different areas of the country. This states dplant vcertainly have different histories. Clearly, spent thed Ramona, Kansas d Although the
Following the beautiful paint job applied to No. 123360 by Bob Mossage of LeRoy. Minnesota, the tractor was displayed for the first time at the 2018 LeSueur County Pioneer Power Show. The paint job on No. 123360 created a great deal of favorable comment at during the show. One attendee at the annual Show, Gene Ziegler, brought our attention to the closeness of the vertical part of the exhaust pipe to the left side of the sheet metal hood covering the engine. Gene is a collector of farm tractors and has some knowledge about the John Deere Model D. He and his wife, Vivian, spend their summers in Mankato, Minnesota and their winters in Mesa, Arizona. Observing the fine paint job on No. 123360, he recommended that No. 123360 not be started until we had lengthen the horizontal section of the exhaust pipe on the Model D which would move the vertical part of the exhaust pipe out another inch away from the hood over the engine. and, thus, the hood from being burned black by the heat from the vertical exhaust pipe section Gene Ziegler suggested that we take the tractor to Vernon Center, Minnesota, to have Herman Speck, a local machinist, make a longer horizontal exhaust pipe section to fit on the tractor and allow the vertical part of the exhaust pipe to be move further away from the left side of the hood. This was done and such was our concern for the paint job that we requested a horizontal piece be made long enough to allow the vertical part of the exhaust pipe be held 4 inches away from the hood rather than a mere 1 inch from the hood.
change of that the faand it was brought the At the show It was the desire of Wells Family Tractors that the restoration of No. as much of the speed