ARMSTRONG, Ill. (WCIA) — The John Deere tractor has a prominent place on many Cornbelt farms, but like the heritage of farm families, those tractors have their own family stories.

When mechanization put horses out to pasture on American farms, one of the new workhorses was the John Deere D tractor. Ed Winkelman of Armstrong has had quite a collection over the years and recounted the development of the Deere tractors beginning with the D.


Ed Winkelman: The first D came off the assembly line in 1923, so we’re celebrating 100 years of the D next year at the I & I tractor show. We’re hoping to get at least 100 Ds here to show off a little bit.

Stu Ellis: The D was the main workhorse of a lot of farms for a couple decades.

Ed Winkelman: The D was in production from 1923 to 1952. They upgraded them a little every year. The original D was called ‘the Spoker’ and the reason it was the Spoker was the flywheel was spokes. As they upgraded them though the years, they learned the flywheels wouldn’t stay on the tractors so they went to what they call a nickel flywheel. So they were only in production for two years and they went to a bigger hole in the flywheel which gave it a little more stretch so they could tighten it down on the crankshaft.

Stu Ellis: Then in the ‘50s, we started getting a little taller, more narrower tractor, the 70s came out.

Ed Winkelman: The 70s, 60s, 50s, and from there into the 520, 530 and 630, and that was the last of the two-cylinder age which ended in 1959 and early ’60 when a new generation came out.

Stu Ellis: That included the 4020. At our home we had a 730 and we had a 4020, and I’d hop on that second tractor before I’d get on the first one.

Ed Winkelman: When them 4010s and 4020s came out, that was a Cadillac to get on, compared to the older ones.

Stu Ellis: That was the muscle tractor.

Ed Winkelman: Yes it was. I spent a lot of hours in the seat of a 4020.”

Stu Ellis: You’re not the only one. We appreciate the history from Ed Winkelman from Armstrong, head of the Friends of Deere Club.