Back in May of 2001 I went to a farm auction that was about 40 miles from my home town of Streeter, North Dakota. There was a “720” John Deere on the auction sale bill.
When I got there the auction had already started but they hadn’t gotten to the machinery yet. I went to check out the 720 as soon as I got there, taking my little book with all the tractor models and S/N listings and my check book just in case the 720 followed me home.
I found the S/N plate, had to do a little digging because it was painted over. It read 7013639. Looked in my book ~ it was a 1954 Model “70.” Didn’t think much more about it, some dealer painted it like a 720, yellow strip and yellow seat cushion. I suppose they did that to get a little more money for a 720 rather than a 70. Who looks at serial numbers anyway except me and Larry Bauer. (Right, Larry?)
To make a long story short, I bought the 720, I mean the 70, took it to my niece’s farm. I changed the oil and replaced a leaking valve cover gasket, adjusted the valve lash and stored it there until 2010 when I brought it to Arvada to restore it.
I started taking it apart last year and found the sheet metal was all full of soot. Then the light started to come on . . . could this be the same 70 we had on the farm?
I was 14 when Dad bought it. In the fall when doing some planting, fuel overflowed, hit the distributor and it ignited! We had a fire that just about burned it to the ground, burned all the tires except the right front, all the wiring, gauges, seat. Lots of damage.
Then the next thing, Les Parker came over to help take the fuel tank off and we heard something roll around inside. We fished it out and it was the spout from a funnel. I remembered putting fuel in Dad’s tractor with a 5 gallon can and funnel, the spout broke off and fell inside.
That pretty much convinced me that this was indeed Dad’s 1954 70 John Deere!
He traded for a 4020 in 1970 or 1971, so the JD 70 was missing for about 30 years.
Unbelievable that I happened to be back home at that time, at that auction, and then thought I was buying a 720. I guess the Good Lord just wanted me to have Dad’s 70 back. That makes it even more fun to work on and am planning on having it done by Cider Days.
Is it a blessing or a curse? I think it’s a blessing but if you ask Bernice, she’ll tell you it’s a curse.
By Clint Rau