If you’ve seen the movie Raiders of the Lost Ark, in which Harrison
Ford plays the character Indiana Jones, perhaps you’ll remember
the closing scene where the crated up Arc of the Covenant is rolled
into a seemingly endless warehouse. That’s a good vision to have
when trying to understand why the small staff at the Deere & Company
Archives can’t possibly be familiar with everything stored there.
Most of the documents and records kept at the Archives would
be of no concern to anyone interested in vintage John Deere products,
or even in company history. These records would bore the
most enthusiastic Deere fans to distraction. Being forced to look
through them could be regarded as cruel and unusual punishment.
But then there’s the other stuff...
Readers already know about the fabulous photograph and literature
collection, and the priceless Serial Number Registers. And
there’s some equipment stored there. Not a lot, even when compared
with perhaps a hundred private collections; and it’s in varying
condition, from restored to very poor, but all of it is meaningful
and worth the warehouse space.
A few years ago, shelf storage space was dramatically increased
through the use of what I would call racks on rails. Instead of a
workspace-sized aisle between each system of shelving, there’s the
ability to enter where desired by simply pressing a button. The
whole affair spreads apart at that location, sort of like Moses parting
the Red Sea. The rest of the racks are still snugged up to one
another, conserving a huge amount of floor space.
When the system was installed, it provided the opportunity for
more records to be relocated from long-term warehouse storage to
“up front” office area access. The crate containing the Arc was discovered,
if you will accept the analogy.
On a trip to the Archives in April, Neil Dahlstrom asked me to
take a look at some ledgers. They had been boxed long ago, and
were labeled as a Duplicate Set of Serial Number Registers from
Waterloo. Dated during the production of the New Generation,
from 1960 through 1972 (there may be more beyond that date),
they are in fact additional production information that was not
known to exist; information that is not in the Serial Number Registers.
The Serial Number Registers were produced by computer at
that time, and had been for the last several years of the Two-Cylinder
Era. These recently discovered ledgers are comprised of hand
entries, and list the assembly date rather than the shipping date of
We looked first at the 4020 Ledger marked 1969, and noticed
some (usually) five-digit numbers in the far right column under
“miscellaneous.” Several pages later, some of these same entries
had the additional notation of “LP Tank #.” These Ledgers list the
number of the LP-Gas tank! While that may not seem to be too
important to most readers, the information can serve as assurance
that a restorer has the original tank; or when investigating a theft,
|the number can be of additional evidence. As with all component
numbers, the information will be retained by Deere & Company.
However, persons wanting to verify that they have the correct tank
for their tractor will be given a “yes” or “no” response. This can be
done during Serial Number Researches by Two-Cylinder.
Starting with the 1969 model year in August 1968, Standard Tractors
were no longer coded as (2) in the middle digit of the serial
number prefix. Consequently, all 1969 and later New Generation
Standard Tractors built at Waterloo appear as Row-Crop Tractors
(Code 1) in the Serial Number Registers. At least for the 4020 (the
3020 Ledgers have not yet been examined), Standard Tractors are
marked “std” in the miscellaneous column. We now have a way to
count and to verify Standards!
Since the assembly date rather than the shipping date is provided
in the “lost” Ledgers, we can now count actual production
and complete the 1972 information that appears in the Production
Log. As it is, the Production Log ends with the month of February
1972. When additional information to complete the Log is
gathered, one model at a time, it will be published in Two-Cylinder.
Those who have a copy of the Log may then write the information
in, using a pen that will make a permanent entry on the
heavily coated paper. Going through the records for so many
thousands of tractors, counting the model codes for each type and
fuel, will take awhile.
Hi-Crop and Industrial Tractors are also noted in the miscellaneous
column, usually as “HC” and “Ind”, but these tractors are
also able to be identified by their serial number prefix. There
appears to be no advantage in using these Ledgers, other than
being able to get an accurate count for the Production Log.
Also in the miscellaneous column were the notations (again,
everything is handwritten) of “spc” and “sepc,” which seemed to be
exclusive to a portion of 4000 (rather than 4020) Tractors. This was
not a familiar code or abbreviation, and its meaning is unknown.
Help from readers would sure be appreciated.
There were a variety of notations in the miscellaneous column
that are believed to refer to the tractor having been equipped with
Power Front-Wheel Drive. Back in the day, at the Tractor Works,
PFWD was called “hydrostatic front drive” and “hydraulic front
drive.” Sometimes just “hydro.” In informal correspondence, such
as scheduling memos, the term “HFD” was often used. A thorough
count and serial number recording was taken, which spanned two
days, and it appears that 621 4020 Tractors were built with the
Power Front-Wheel Drive option. The figure may seem like a lot to
some, and few to others. I remember the period quite well, being
involved in a project that took me into every area of the plant.
PFWD-equipped 3020s and 4020s were present on a regular basis;
it certainly seemed daily. Looking back now, I suspect that they