My other John Deere - woodworking project

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Forum topic by richgreer posted 01-07-2012 07:43 PM 2488 views 0 times favorited 36 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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4541 posts in 3277 days

01-07-2012 07:43 PM

Some of you may recall that I recently purchased a ‘49 John Deere A. I really like that tractor. In addition, I have another John Deere that I have owned for about 12 years. My research indicates that it was probably built around 1900. Here are pictures -

You can see that the wooden handles are in very bad shape. When I first acquired it, I could lift it by the handles. The handles would definitely break if I tried to lift it now.

I’ve decided to make new handles. I realize that will make it less authentic, but those are probably not the original handles anyway. It was common to replace handles after they had deteriorated too much.

I really want to salvage the original hardware, and that may be tricky. Note that all the nuts are square.

I will use the existing handles as a pattern for making new. I know that farm machinery in that era was made, almost exclusively, with with white oak and that is what I will use.

Does anyone have any experience with a project like this and/or does anyone have any advice. I’m particularly interested in any advice on how to salvage the hardware.

As an FYI, I hope to rig up a way to pull this plow with my tractor in the spring. I want to experience what it was like for my Dad and Grandfather to walk behind and manage a plow like this. Of course, I will not do that until the spring and I will need someone to drive the tractor for me.

Thanks in advance.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

36 replies so far

View spunwood's profile


1202 posts in 3039 days

#1 posted 01-07-2012 08:04 PM

Very cool project, keep us updated. Sorry, I am of no technical help here.

-- I came, I was conquered, I was born again. ἵνα ὦσιν ἓν

View SASmith               's profile


1850 posts in 3190 days

#2 posted 01-07-2012 08:10 PM

Not sure how well it will work, but have you considered electrolysis?

-- Scott Smith, Southern Illinois

View Sawkerf's profile


1730 posts in 3271 days

#3 posted 01-07-2012 09:48 PM

For the bolts and nuts, WD-40, penetrating oil, and/or heat should loosen them so they can be removed. Unless they’re in really bad shape, some wire brushing and a pass thru a tap or die should clean up the threads for reuse.

If you want to go whole hog, the rest of the metal can be sandblasted and repainted (Green, of course).

I’ve never done a plow, but I’ve replaced several sets of wheelbarrow handles. When they were finished, I drowned them in BLO and they held up for years.

-- Adversity doesn't build reveals it.

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10880 posts in 3318 days

#4 posted 01-07-2012 10:13 PM

as the last thing to go to if all the oil penetrating fail
its time to be nasty and find the flamethrower and chockheat the bolt and screws
and while they still are very hot use the wrnches on them

good luck with the plough


View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3277 days

#5 posted 01-07-2012 10:23 PM

I saw Dennis’s reference to “plough” and said to myself, “He must be from Europe”. I checked and saw that he is from Denmark and, as expected, he has learned the British version of English. In the US, we spell it “plow”. May I say that I think it is great that this has become an international website. I appreciate hearing comments from all over the world.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

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3261 posts in 2878 days

#6 posted 01-07-2012 11:47 PM

Rich, I was going to say you don’t want to paint this green because they were black then I got to thinking and I realized that all the plows I have ever seen were covered in rust. Never any paint. Do you suppose they shipped them raw? I guess JD might know how they were shipped out. I think the holes should be burned like they did on wagons. The wood on wagons was not drilled for the bolts. They heated a rod and pushed it through the wood. This leaves a charcoal barrier around the hold and it will not rot. I am in favor of the 50/50 mix of power steering fluid and acetone. As a last resort I would apply heat because it softens the metal. All early equipment used square nuts as you have noted. These are available and can be bought with no plating on them if you need them. Of course, you don’t want to twist the round rod into two pieces.

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3318 days

#7 posted 01-08-2012 12:11 AM

thanks for checking Rich :-)
here with spell it plov and 60 years back or so our biggest moneynote was the 500 Kr.
and was used more than 37 years
on one site of it there was a picture of a farmer going with his horse and ploughing
with one simular to yours :-) and the popular name among the comon foks was and still is plovmand

and here is a try out on a new version :-) made by a private person

have a great day

View casual1carpenter's profile


354 posts in 2678 days

#8 posted 01-08-2012 01:25 AM

If you go the penetrating oil route, and there are some good ones out there, it might not give immediate results. That plov has been around a long time, you might have to sneak up on that hardware. Give it a dose of penetrating oil, try the threads, go build something, spray it again, try again, until it works or you have had enough and get the grinder out and cut them. Penetrating oil does wonderful things with time and light shocks sometimes. Might want to check any exposed threads clean and dress them with brush and file or light touch with a hack saw blade. Go for quick, go for torque, and you might be going to the hardware store.

Also, you might consider if the hardware can be saved, to save those handles. What comes off can always go back on. Those square nuts, you have a lot of wrench face for an open end wrench, a socket or box wrench will only have the 4 points.

View ajosephg's profile


1880 posts in 3764 days

#9 posted 01-08-2012 02:18 AM

LOL, Rich. Your “A” will be totally embarrassed pulling a single bottom plow!

-- Joe

View andysden's profile


45 posts in 2621 days

#10 posted 01-08-2012 03:13 AM

My brother belongs to a local antique farmers club in soothern ontario andthey have lots of these single furrow ploughs [english] plows and coluld help you with the painting and the peoper kind of wood his email address I think he will help you with it Andy

View cloakie1's profile


204 posts in 2758 days

#11 posted 01-09-2012 10:45 AM

i think that electrolysis would be the way to go…as long as you can find a tank big enough and a suitable power source…battery chargers will do it but you really need about 20 amps
sodium carbonate is added to the water.
the nuts will pretty much undo by hand when it’s done

-- just get stuck in and have a go!!!

View Bluepine38's profile


3379 posts in 3288 days

#12 posted 01-09-2012 04:41 PM

If you are going to put that behind a tractor, be sure the tractor operator is very experienced and has a
quick reaction time. Do not ask how I know this is necessary.

-- As ever, Gus-the 79 yr young apprentice carpenter

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3277 days

#13 posted 01-09-2012 04:54 PM

Bluepine – That is a very good point. People who are experienced driving this type of tractor are pretty hard to find.

For those who don’t know, my tractor has a hand clutch and a few other oddities. Driving it is quite different than driving anything else. It would take quite a bit of time before pulling the clutch and applying brakes (one break petal on each side of the tractor for the wheel on that side.) would be natural and intuitive.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View ajosephg's profile


1880 posts in 3764 days

#14 posted 01-09-2012 08:55 PM

Some John Deere trivia for Rich.

Rich, Do you know how to crank your “A” if it has a dead battery?

-- Joe

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4541 posts in 3277 days

#15 posted 01-09-2012 10:11 PM

My A does not have an open flywheel so I cannot hand “crank” it. On our farm we would pull it with another tractor. Sometimes, if we knew we may have a problem starting it, we would park it on the barn hill and start it by rolling down the hill and engaging the clutch.

I’m reluctant to jump or charge this tractor because it has a 6 volt electrical system. I worry about damaging the electrical system by hooking it up to 12 volts.

FYI – I am always amazed at how quickly and easily these tractors usually start. It seems like the starter only needs to turn the engine over for one revolution and it fires up.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

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