Rummy's John Deere Page

Featuring 2-cylinder John Deere tractors native to the western-Piedmont of North Carolina

bar graphic

My Project: 1948 JD A

April 15, 1997
1948 JD A Being that the tractor was just delivered on March 31, I haven't had much progress as yet. Keep in mind that I still have an unpainted '75 TR6 in my garage. Everytime I think about doing something with the A, my wife reminds me about the TR6.

However, since it is a working A, and I have several uses for it around the house, I need to maintain it in good working order. To this end, I have made a seat for it, to replace the board that has been in use for that purpose - my butt appreciates it: and I've also replaced the muffler - the neighbors will thank me for that. Rear View of 1948 JD A

The only plans I have for the immediate future (i.e. until the TR6 is finished) are to narrow the rear wheel spacing by 6" so that it fits on my trailer, and to shore-up the loose and wobbly seat support.

After the TR6 is finished, the A gets its turn in the garage. A full restoration is NOT in the works, just a good refurbishment to make it work and look respectable. My intent is to make it look like it was when it was 5 to 10 years old.

I expect to add pictures to this page in a short while - the roll of film is about half taken. Check back in a month or so.

June 11, 1997
Narrowing the rear wheel spacing?...Geez, does anybody have any suggestions on how to break the hub loose from the axle? A fellow Deere-fan, Wayne Anderson, and I have been trying for 3 weeks to get one of the wheels to break loose from the axle so that we can move it in. One moved with little trouble, but the other won't budge. I've blown out (2) 6-ton bottle jacks, broken (2) 3/4" all-threads and bent several others, and it still stubbornly sits there in the same location on the axle. If you have any ideas, please, please let me know ( My next attempt is a wheel puller with a 15-ton porta-power (and heat, if I can track down an acetylene torch).

June 13, 1997
1948 JD A axle & axle clamp Successful! The trick to getting the hub broken loose from the axle, is to remove the 6 wheel bolts from the hub and getting the wheel out of the way. This gives more room to work on the hub, and it also lets the hub "relax". I think the wheel being bolted to the hub kept the hub clamped to the axle and combined with the 50 years of rust was too much to overcome. I had to drill and tap the 6 wheel bolts for 3/8 all-thread (1 of these tapped wheel bolts is still visible in the photo), which was then pulled with a porta-power while I hammered on the other end. The hub, free of the wheel, was then removed with 17 tons of porta-power force, and blows from a 2 lb hammer. After cleaning the spline and hub, I'll reassemble the wheel tonight with the desired wheel spacing. What a relief!

August 30, 1997
I got a new scanner, and I've included several pictures of my A here, and many pictures of other models throughout this site. Not having a scanner makes you realize how important pictures are to convey a message.

Well I finally painted the TR6 last weekend, and it looks good. Just a little more work to replace the windshield (broken) and muffler (blown out), and put all the lights, bumpers, and trim back on, then it's road worthy and out of the garage.

In the meantime, I've been cleaning, scraping, and wire-brushing, and trying to get all the leaks fixed on the A. Nothing major, just a drip or seepage here or there. It's not exciting work, but it needs to be done, and there's a lot of value added - - it gets you in close so you can see the details. I've identified numerous things that need fixed or replaced, like headlights, some seals, bolts for holding sheet metal on, and other things that you don't see just by looking.

October 28, 1997
During my cleaning/ scraping/ wire-brushing of the A, I discovered that most of the gasket between the engine block and the crankcase was gone (shown at the far right of the exploded view). exploded view of JD A block & head I noticed that some of the nuts were also loose, but I don't know which one caused the other (loose nuts allowed the gasket to fall out or blow out, or loss of gasket caused the nuts to loosen). This allowed oil to leak from the joint, not a lot, but enough to cause a constant dripping and a puddle to form under the tractor while it was running. The loose nuts were also a potential catastrophe waiting to happen.

So, with the help of my Dad, I drained the radiator, removed the coolant pipes, carburetor, generator, and exhaust pipe. Then after taking off the valve cover, we removed the rocker arm and shaft assembly and pulled out the push rods to keep them from getting in the way. Then we took the connecting rods loose from the crankshaft. With a floor jack supporting the block, we took off the 6 nuts securing the block to the crankcase, and carefully slid the block, pistons, head, and manifold assembly out away from the crankcase. It was quite a bit heavier than if we had removed the head and pistons from the block, but there was nothing wrong with that end, and I didn't want to disturb it unnecessarily. Besides, the whole head gasket kit was over $100, while the one gasket I needed to replace was $4.

After cleaning both surfaces, we installed the new gasket and slid the block assembly back into place and tightened the 6 nuts. We also checked the connecting rod/crankshaft play as we were assembling them, and we had to take a shim from each to get the right amount of play.

As we were taking the rocker arm and shaft assembly off earlier, we had found a broken rocker arm adjusting screw on one of the arms, so we installed a new one I had gotten from the JD dealer during one of our breaks. It was then that we discovered that the rocker arm had been bent about .25", but it appeared that there was still sufficient adjustment in the adjusting screw, so we continued the assembly with the bent one (besides, it was now Saturday night and the JD dealer was closed).

We then re-attached the exhaust, carburetor, generator, coolant pipes, and filled the radiator with coolant. It had always been finicky starting, but this time it was particularly hard to start, and now it idled rough when we did get it started. Also, it wouldn't rev up very well: it would start backfiring, coughing, and sputtering. To make a long story short, after changing the plugs, checking the valve play, changing the plug wires, checking the gas, and checking the timing, we decided to change the bent rocker arm and start over again. A friend of mine gave me a rocker arm from a spare valve assembly he had, and after adjusting the play, it started and ran better than it has since I've owned it. The bent rocker arm must have been causing a slight bind in the valve mechanism that wouldn't let the valve close completely or fast enough, thereby letting the burning cylinder charge burn back up the intake towards the carburetor. Before beginning this repair, it was hard starting, but it ran well. I don't know how, but the broken adjusting screw and bent rocker arm combination somehow worked moderately okay before it was repaired, but we made matters worse by only replacing the adjusting screw. With the good adjusting screw and rocker arm, it's no longer finicky starting, and it is much smoother running with a noticeably better rhythm to the exhaust note.

Since then, talking to people, I've heard of one other instance of a broken adjusting screw and bent rocker arm on an A. I'd be interested to know if anybody else has had this problem (

I know it's a bit wordy, but I thought it was a rather interesting turn of events and realization of how important good alignment and adustment of the valve mechanism is. I started the day trying to stop a nagging oil leak, and when I ended the day, I had fixed the leak and a serious valve problem, and markedly improved the starting and running performance of my A.

March 23, 1998
Well, it's been a long time since my last installment. My wife and I bought 31 acres of farmland/woodland in August of '97, of which 8 acres was stubble and weeds from the last crop (probably 3 or 4 years ago). So I've been busy bushhogging, disking, and other cleanup chores around the land with my A. It's been working well. In addition, I selectively cut about 20 trees (poplar & red oak) from the woods, dragged them out to the clearing, and had a guy with a portable Wood Mizer sawmill come in and turn them into approximately 5000 bd ft of lumber. That was last year. This year, in between el nino rainstorms, I've been building a small barn to keep the A and my JD backhoe in until we get a chance to build our house there (probably in '99). It's now under roof, and I can relax a little bit after the hectic pace I was under trying to get it framed in and under roof. Check out my progress.

1948 JD A battery box/seat support I haven't been entirely derelict on rebuilding the A, however. I did rebuild the seat support/battery box. The bottom was rusted out, and the flanges that bolt to the transmission case were about half gone. It turns out I wasn't very far from falling off the back of the tractor - probably while disking. It wouldn't have been a pretty sight! I cut and ground off the old flanges, which were just angle iron, and welded on new angles. A little straightening, filing, sanding, and filling of pits, and it was ready for a coat of paint. It is a big improvement over what was there before. I also made the seat cushion and backrest - I wanted yellow, since black would be way too hot in the summer sun in North Carolina. Except for the paint, the whole seat refurbishment cost lest than $15, and it looks good on the A. With the purchase of the 31 acres, building the barn, and the upcoming house construction, I've added a new criterion to my original rebuilding philosophy: do it cheaply.

May 8, 1998
I've added a new twist to the Project: I've added another JD tractor to the collection. It's a '51 M, and it's in pretty good shape, and it belonged to the son of the man I bought the A from. You see, I discovered that I need a tractor on our 31 acres, yet my tools and alot of my spare time are at our present house. Those 2 places are 20 miles apart. It's tough to work on the A when you have to either lug the tractor back and forth or the tools back and forth. With 2 tractors, I'll have 1 at home to refurbish, and 1 at the farm to use. Already I have painted a large part of the M, mainly the engine. I'll do a little more work to it before swapping the A and the M so that I can continue the Project as originally envisioned.

bar graphic
MacOS Webmaster:
Byron Guyer (
RF Rumberger Creations

Created: 4/15/97 ----- Last Update: 5/8/98