The model D tractor
a Deere landmark
for 30 Years!
A nicely restored John Deere Spoker D
The John Deere Model D Tractor puts Deere on the Map
John Deere D 1923 to 1953 - a Terrific Run
Making tractor history, the first John Deere Model D Tractor rolled
off the production line March 1, 1923 and remained in production
until July 3, 1953. It was the longest run of any make or model
of John Deere tractor.
In June of 1923 Waterloo Boy Model N with serial number 30400
came off the production line at Deere and Company. The next model
was serial number 30401, the first production tractor with the John
Deere name on it....the Model D.
Interestingly, the Waterloo Boy number 30400 wasn't the last of the
Waterloo Boy tractors. Dealer orders and interest kept the production
of the Model N going until serial number 31412 was finally the last
one produced, completed on October 15, 1924.
1921 saw hard times for farmers, crops were scarce and coupled
with a nationwide depression, tractor sales for Deere and Company
dropped. And to make matters worse, in January Henry Ford lowered
the price of his Fordson from $785 to $620. IHC followed
with a price cut on their tractors from $1,150 to an even $1,000.
The Waterloo Boy Model N followed with two price cuts finally
resting at $850 in July.
Henry Ford declared war on his closest two competitors and 6 months
later dropped his prices to $395! Farmers bought 35,000 Fordson
tractors in 1921. Deere couldn't compete and sold only 79. The
only redeeming factor was Ford didn't produce implements and
Deere and Company did. In 1922 Deere built only 307 tractors.
The Waterloo Boy Model N hadn't received much of a new look
since it's inception in 1917. It was time for a change.
Deere and Company had been experimenting with prototype designs
for the past 10 years, giving each an alphabet letter. At the letter D,
they finally hit upon the design that was to change the future of the
green tractor forever.
The first Style D tractor was serial number 30,400. Actual production
began with serial number 30,401. Since the Model N was still produced
after the advent of the D, a block of serial numbers was taken out of
the D sequence and given to the N, numbers 31,320 thru 31,411.
Production changes on the Model D
The first 50 Model D tractors had a welded front axle and left side
steering. The flywheel was used for starting and was 26 inches
in diameter with six spokes. The engine was the improved version
of the Waterloo Boy Model N with a 6.5 bore and 7 inch stroke,
horizontal water cooled 2 cylinder, with two speed transmission.
Beginning with the 51st model D, the front axle was a casting. Beginning
in 1925 the flywheel was replaced with a 24 inch diameter spoker.
Beginning in 1926, the solid flywheel replaced it.
In 1927 the engine bore was increased to 6.75. In 1931 the steering
wheel and gear moved to the right side of the tractor and engine speed
was increased from 800 to 900 rpm. In 1935 the Model D got a new
3 speed transmission.
In 1939 the Model D was given styling to keep up with it's sister
The tractors built between 1923 and 1939 are referred to as unstyled,
whereas the tractors built after 1939 are styled.
In 1939 the popularity of rubber tires was such that the decision to
switch the Model D to rubber as standard equipment was made, and
steel wheels were now an option. For a few years during World War 2
steel was standard again, because rubber was hard to get.
A powershaft was available as an option on tractors as early as the
In the late 40's electric starting and lights became an optional extra.
1924 John Deere Model D Tractor
Popularity of the Model D
The John Deere Model D was a popular tractor with farmers. It could
run on just about any low cost fuel, parts were simple and easy to reach
and work on, the initial cost was low enough farmers could afford and
it could pull a 3 bottom plow in most conditions.
It was shorter in length than the Model N thus giving it a tighter
turning radius and overall was much more maneuverable.
The Model D was originally rated at 27 belt horsepower and 15 drawbar,
with a weight of about 4,250 pounds.
The last 92 Model D's were assembled in the roadway beside the plant,
and thus are nicknamed "Streeters."
The last Model D was shipped in March of 1954, although it was a 1953 model.
In 1904 there were 6 companies manufacturing agricultural tractors in
the U.S. By 1909, there were 9 companies with a total production of
By 1920, there were 166 companies with a total production of 203,207
tractors. By 1929 there were 47 companies with a total production of
In 1917 farmers awaited the arrival of the new Henry Ford tractor
expecting it to be a unit that would be cheap in price and fill
a place in the tractor world as the Model T had in the automotive industry.
A group of promoters out of Minneapolis, Minnesota hired a man by
the name of Ford and organized the Ford Tractor Company. It was
a scheme to play on the Ford name, although it didn't work out as
only a few of the Ford tractors ever actually made it to market.
However, Henry Ford was legally not able to use the Ford name on
his tractors, so thus the Fordson name was born.
Also in 1917, General Motors entered the tractor market by purchasing
the Samson Sieve Grip Tractor Company of Stockton Cal.
The John Deere Model D stayed in the line longer than any other piece
of equipment. The second longest run of any Deere equipment to be
marketed was the No. 36 combine.
This combine was originally built by Holt in 1919 and was the world's
first all steel combine. It received an upgrade in 1923 as a Holt
Model 30, then another in 27 as the Holt Model 36. Then it was built
by Caterpillar's combine division in Stockton Cal.
In 1936 the Model 36 combine changed names again to find it's final
resting place as a John Deere machine.
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