Recollections of a John Deere GP

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Recollections of a John Deere GP
by Charlie Cook

I grew up on my dad's 280 acre general farm in Western Michigan. Dad's only tractor when I was very young was the old GP. My first recollection of this tractor was when dad allowed my brother and myself to ride on the tractor with him driving. One of us would sit on the left fender (away from the clutch) and other would sit on the gas tank and hold onto the crankcase breather pipe.

restored jD GP tractor
When I was 10 or 11 I learned to drive the tractor. I could not push the clutch in and make it stay so dad would push in for me and then jump back onto a hay wagon with a hired man and stack hay as it came off a hay loader which was attached to the back of the wagon. At about 13 or 14 I graduated to working the fields with a disk or drag and a cultipacker. At 15 I again progressed to plowing. That was a job that was easy for the old GP because of it's wide front wheels. All I needed to do was set one wheel in the dead furrow and it would drive itself until the end of the field and then I would turn it around and head back the other way. It was so easy in fact that I fell asleep once and plowed my way through a barbed wire fence and into the next field. Dad was not pleased.

The above was all over 50 years ago but I never forgot the old GP. Dad acquired an A and a B during the war but my favorite was still the old GP. After high school I left the farm to pursue a career in the construction industry where I spent the next 40+ years. I decided about 2 or 3 years ago that if I ever found another tractor like the old GP would try to buy it. In the spring of "98" I started looking seriously. I traveled the entire state of Michigan and could not find on like the old one that I grew up with. Then a miracle happened. I attended a steam and gas tractor show about 10 miles from home and a guy there was passing out flyers for an auction that included part of his collection of antique tractors of all makes and models.

Low and behold there was a GP listed. He had all the tractors hid and did not allow anyone to see them before the day of the sale. When I arrived I could hear the familiar sound of a John Deere popping away at the other end of the field. I was like a kid in a candy store. When the auctioneer got to the old JD the bidding was started way above what I had hoped I could get it for. I did notice that almost no one else was bidding so I held back too. The price dropped until someone jumped in and then it went back up again. It rose to the point that I did not think that I could really justify paying that much. I was sick. Here I had this machine in the palm of my hand and it got away.

About 3 weeks later my wife and I attended another tractor show and I started my search again. We were walking through around on the grounds looking at all the nice old antique tractors and I spotted the guy who had the sale so I struck up a conversation with him. I told him that I had kicked myself for the last 3 weeks because I had let that old GP get away from me. I was about to walk away from him and he asked me if I was still interested. I told him I was. He then informed me that he had the old GP bid back in because he really thought it was worth more. He said the property where the tractor was stored had just been sold and he had to get rid of some more tractors. I made him and offer which he said he had to think about. A week later he called back and made me a counter offer. We went back and forth for about another 2 weeks and he finally called and said that I could have it. I was delighted.

Since getting it I have discovered that there were some problems with it. It had a backfire problem which was caused by sticking valves. The carburetor needed work and I ended up disassembling that and putting in a new valve and seat. The gas shut off leaked so I replaced it and in the process discovered that the gas tank was rusted in a couple of spots. I removed it and relined it. The magneto cover was cracked in several places so I replaced it along with new plugs and wires. The brakes were almost non existent so they have been relined. The front wheels were not properly lined up so I redid those. My last project was to try to correct an oil leak. I traced it to the belt pulley and have taken that apart and cleaned it and replaced an oil seal which it turned out was not the problem. The oil was coming from an improperly set soft plug. I put that in correctly and that took care of the oil leak.

I will be showing the tractor at several local shows this summer and also a couple of parades. I am enjoying this old tractor and even though I probably paid a little more than I should have I am happy to have it. Right now I would not sell it for twice what I paid for it.

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