Jim May
Two-Cylinder Club
Technical Council Representative

Jim May was born and raised a city boy in northeastern Ohio, far from farms and tractors. As a teenager, he learned carpentry and home construction, building houses and furniture with his contractor future father-in-law in order to work his way through college. After completing a doctorate at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1977, Jim and wife Donna moved to Northfield, Minnesota, where he continued to build furniture and musical instruments (harpsichords) as a serious avocation, while teaching at St. Olaf College as his full-time profession. It was then that he had his first encounter with John Deere two-cylinders. His good friend and neighbor, Ron Nuebel, an avid hobby farmer, does all of his fieldwork with John Deere Tractors and equipment, dating from the 1940s and ‘50s. Ron convinced Jim that he too should have at least one two-cylinder for work on his small acreage, and with that in mind they found a 1942 “B” whose transmission was entirely shot — purchase price: $75. After a quick trip to a nearby tractor boneyard, where he pulled a good transmission from another “B” for all of $20, Jim completely restored the “B” with Ron’s help. A 1939 “A” followed, then another “B”; but, after subscribing to Two-Cylinder magazine and making trips to a few Two-Cylinder Club Expos, Jim found himself strangely attracted to Deere’s smallest two-cylinder offering, the Model “L”. He soon began searching for an “LI”, then an “LA”, then an “L”, and another and another, driving as far as Kansas, Texas, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York to acquire yet another tractor or, more important, to find another integral piece of equipment for the “L” line.

Jim has spent the last 25 years or so concentrating on Model “Ls”, buying and selling parts and tractors, accumulating as much literature as possible about the “L”, restoring several “Ls”, and acquiring a nice collection of implements for the “L” Series (which is actually much more challenging than finding the tractors!). Jim’s 1940 Hercules-engine “LI” equipped with hydraulic 7B Mower, as well as his 1937 Unstyled “L” equipped with integral middlebreaker and planter, have been displayed at several Two-Cylinder Club Expos. In addition, he has offered seminars on the Model “L” and its equipment at past Expos. Jim is currently the longest-serving member on the Two-Cylinder Technical Council, and in that capacity has talked to hundreds of “L” owners and answered thousands of questions about the “L” Series. He is grateful for that interaction, and has gleaned as much knowledge about “Ls” from those encounters as he has imparted to others. While he continues to work on his “Ls” in his spare time, Jim has in recent years acquired an interest in other antique vehicles from the same era, collecting and restoring vintage pickups (1937 and 1940 Chevrolets), a 1938 Chevrolet coupe pickup, a 1942 Ford fire truck, and most recently a 1938 Chevrolet panel truck.



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