The September/October 2019 issue of Antique Power magazine will be available in subscriber mailboxes and on newsstands soon. Our latest cover tractor is a 1964 John Deere 4020 diesel owned by Jack Purinton. It was photographed by Brad Bowling, and Tyler Buchheit researched and wrote the article.
The Deere & Co. Model 4020 tractor is as American as baseball and apple pie. John Deere collectors hold the highest regard for the 4020. Some who are not fans of the trademarked green and yellow tractors would agree that if they ever did cross over into the John Deere brand, the 4020 would be the model for them. With over 150,000 of the 4020s built from late 1963 until 1972, the model finished number four in the top most-produced Deere models.
To understand the path that led to the 4020, one must go back to the era when all John Deere tractors had 2-cylinder engines—a mainstay after John Deere bought the Waterloo Gasoline Engine Co. in 1918. The 2-cyclinder engine’s economy of operation because of its ability to efficiently burn low-cost distillate fuel and its simplicity of design paid off during the Great Depression and World War II, when conservation was top of mind.
After World War II, younger, progressive-minded farm families wanted to earn a better living with larger cash crop income. Farms grew in acreage and so did the need for more powerful tractors. For the 2-cylinder engine design, there was only so much room under the hood and in the frame to add more engine displacement. Deere’s competitors had long touted that the uneven firing of the 2-cylinder engine meant less operator comfort and shortened life for implements, especially those powered directly from the power shaft or belt pulley.
John Deere had experimented with V-4 and V-6 engines along with slant-cylinder designs to make something unique to its brand. Unfortunately, these configurations were not easily compatible with integral implements, such as front-mounted cultivators and corn pickers. Deere had been making in-line, vertical 4- and 6-cylinder engines for nearly a decade—most had been used as stationary power units on irrigation pumps and combine harvesters. The company decided to go with vertical 4- and 6-cylinder engines in its “New Generation of Power” tractors first introduced at Deere Day in Dallas in August 1960. Included were the Models 1010, 2010, 3010, and 4010.
When Deere released this new tractor line, the industry was taken by surprise because Deere had shown no signs of breaking away from its trusted 2-cylinder engine. The closed-center hydraulic system with a variable displacement pump and 20-gallon-per-minute flow also shook up the tractor market and attracted new customers. Excellent power steering and power brakes came as standard equipment. As one might expect, the company introduced numerous upgrades and improvements during the 1960–1963 production years on the 10-series tractors, but competitors were introducing new models, and John Deere felt that an updated series was needed.
The new 20-series included increased horsepower, better pto and clutch drives, a re-designed gauge cluster, larger axles, and most importantly, a new transmission. Deere introduced its Power Shift transmission on the models 3020 and 4020 for the 1964 model year, which it touted as a full-time working transmission—not a “power assist” or “crutch” to make up for lack of engine power or poor gear spacing. Hydraulically actuated internal clutch packs enabled “on-the-go” shifting from the positive park position through eight forward speeds and four in reverse. A single lever was used to move through the speed selections while many competitors still used multiple lever controls.
To read more about the 1964 John Deere Model 4020 diesel, pick up a copy of the September/October 2019 issue of Antique Power magazine!
Other articles in this issue include:
Grampa Should Have Had One!—Massey-Harris Pony by Steven Knox
A Good Idea, Too Soon—The 1910 Hovland Reaper and traveling thresher helped to kindle the idea of swathing grain. by Ruth Bitner
Rare Prairie Gold on the Pacific Coast—Jim Lunneborg’s 1963 Minneapolis-Moline Model M5 LP attracts plenty of friendly waves when he drives it to town for fuel. by Candace Brown
John Deere’s Power Shift Was Here to Stay—Jack Purinton’s 1964 John Deere Model 4020 diesel was a test bed tractor for Deere’s successful Power Shift transmission. by Tyler Buchheit
Conjuring Up Some Florida Magic—Three generations pitch in to restore a rare 1953 Farmall Super MV high clearance tractor. by Robert Gabrick
Letter from the Editor
Letters to the Editor
Canada Connection: The Massey-Harris Pony
Photos from the Attic
Keeping History Alive: JUMP Tractor Museum
Tech Tips: Plugging the Plug
Tractor Show: Readers show off their favorites
Of Grease & Chaff: A Textbook for Old Farm Equipment “Experts”
Gallery: photo by Bob Kisken