Why I’ll never look at a John Deere 4640 the same again…

john deere 4640 tractor

See the Interesting Iron auction listings on TZ!

This week’s Interesting Iron will be a little different than the normal stuff you see from me. Yes, there’s a really nice John Deere 4640 coming up on an auction near Corydon, IA, but for this post, it’s sort of a supporting character. It’s a long-winded post, but I do hope you’ll take a few minutes to read it all the way through.

john deere 4640 tractor at auction
This John Deere 4640 was Dennis Allen’s pride and joy. Click the link below to see the auction listing with lots more photos.

Dennis Allen’s 4640

Let’s talk about the tractor itself first, because this one that Jared Chambers is selling is an awfully nice one. It’s a 1980 model according to the serial number, and boy oh boy, is it ever clean! I’m sure there are probably cleaner examples of the John Deere 4640 out there, but I doubt they’re selling any time soon!

John Deere 4640 tractor cab
To me, the wear on the brake pedals sure doesn’t look like a 12,000-hour tractor! Dennis took really good care of this one!

Dennis Allen was the farmer who owned it. He was a well-known and hard-working farmer who loved his life on the farm that he and his wife Marcia established. They built a life there, and raised a family. Sadly, Dennis passed away on February 1, 2018 due to complications of sepsis. Most all of the machinery has been stored in the barns and sheds since his passing. Furthermore, his brothers have kept up with the tractors, using them periodically to make sure nothing rots and starts falling apart.

The brothers say that the 4640 was Dennis’s favorite tractor on the farm. For all of the 13-14 years he owned it, it was his favorite tractor to hook to the baler. He loved it, and he took very good care of it.

Jared has run the tractor on several occasions over the past six months and he tells me that it runs and drives very nicely. The AC does need to be recharged, and the dash cowling is missing. Other than those issues, this is a very nice machine!

Auction Details:

Date: Saturday, October 16, 2021 – 9AM Central
Location: 3152 180th St., Corydon, IA 50060
Contact: Jared Chambers (Chambers Auction & Appraisal) – 641.414.0234

As much as Jared didn’t want to do it, this one has to be an onsite-only auction. He told me, “The farm is down in a hole in southern Iowa, and cell service is pretty bad down there. The chance of running into issues with an online bidding platform would be pretty high, and that wouldn’t be fair to online bidders. So, we made the hard call to do an onsite-only auction.”

It’s a tough position to be in, but I totally understand why Jared made that call to do an onsite-only sale. If you’re interested, grab a couple of buddies and hitch up the gooseneck and go for a road trip! If I’m able, I’ll be down there for this sale!

Here’s the auction flyer.

farm equipment auction poster

What’s it worth?

Even with 12,000 hours on it, I believe that this is probably still a $22-25K tractor. Maybe higher. It’ll be interesting to see what the buyers think. Some of it could easily depend on the weather. If it’s a nice weekend, I think we’ll see a lower turnout due to harvest. However, if it’s drizzly or rainy like it was for much of the midwest last weekend, there may be a bigger turnout. One thing is for sure; if the right buyers are on the property next Saturday, I think it’ll be a hotly-contested tractor. Time will tell…

Now, the hard part of this week’s post…

This is going to be hard to write. I never imagined that I’d have to do this.

Y’know, there are certain tractor models that I’ve come to associate with certain people in my circle of friends. You’ve probably got people like this in your life, too. You’re probably thinking of them right now. For one reason or another, when you think of them, you think of that tractor model. When you think of that tractor model, you think of them.

My buddy Alex in Missouri has an almost-unhealthy obsession with 4320s. A Deere dealer from Wisconsin who I go pulling with will forever be associated with 4230s (for those of you who go to the Hillsboro Charity Tractor pull, you probably know who I’m talking about). My friend Sam (also from Missouri) is a 1086 fanatic, and the list goes on and on.

Well, Brice Volker was my John Deere 4640 guy.

I was in my hotel room in Crane, IN this past Saturday morning when I got the call that he had passed away. He was a dear friend, and a powerful voice for all things SoundGard and sustainable agriculture. I was shocked when I heard the news, and it took everything I had to keep it together until I hung up the phone.

I should’ve been checking over my camera gear, as we were to go prostock pulling one last time for the year at Wagler Motorsports Park. However, shortly after I got that call, the clouds opened up and it started raining. I’d never been more thankful to have a tractor pull called off in all my life.

Who was Brice?

Brice Volker was one of our Tractor Zoom auctioneer partners (he was part of the Speckmann Auction & Realty team), a farmer, and a successful seed salesman. All of those irons in the fire kept Brice pretty busy!

Just this past July, Brice made ag and auction history. You know those Busch Light John Deere combines that make their way around social media every so often? Well, the first one Busch ever did went to a farmer in southeastern Nebraska, and when he wanted to send it off to a new owner, he called upon Brice to do it. That was a really nice combine, too! We had a lot of fun helping him promote this sale! (That combine was also the only one that Busch allowed to be sold with the wrap still intact. Every combine that sells after this one will have to be unwrapped before it changes hands!)

John Deere S680 Busch Light combine
Brice tried like heck to coax a bald eagle into landing on the auger for this photo, but ultimately we had to add one via Photoshop…😂

The auction business took significant time and energy, but Brice’s real passion was agriculture. He didn’t farm a lot of ground, but whenever I’d ask him how farming was going, the answer was always the same; he was always behind. Additionally, Brice had a successful seed business, and he always put his customers first. There was never another way to do business for him.

Brice Volker black and white selfie in front of a corn field
Brice’s favorite place to take a selfie? In a cornfield. Always in a cornfield.

Ag Advocacy & John Deere

There was a lot more to Brice than that, though. About 7 or 8 years ago, Brice had the wild idea to start a Facebook group specifically for the 30-70 Series tractors. It was initially set up to be for the guys and girls who still farm with the SoundGard tractors. However, since then, it’s become one of the main sources of useful info about these iconic tractors. If I had to guess, some of you who are reading this post right now are members of that group. Thank Brice for that…he started it and was very active in it up until the end.

Ask anybody who’s involved with a Facebook group or some other similar social media entity; they’ll tell you that it’s a big time commitment, and that it doesn’t pay very well! I’m one of the guys who started the Beer Money Pulling Team’s FB page, and I can absolutely affirm it. It takes a lot of long hours to build a community like that! Brice did it very willingly (most of the time), and the membership has swelled to over 32,000 registered users! He was incredibly dedicated to it, and it all swelled from his passion for farming with those tractors – especially his 4640!

Brice was hilarious, too. He had a very dry sense of humor, and it complemented his personality really well. When we first met, he seemed a little bit on the reserved side. However, it didn’t take long before his true personality came out. We’d talk auctions and prices very candidly, talk about what was right (and wrong) with the industry, and life in general.

One of the things that I’ll remember most fondly about Brice was “the rules”…his rules for farming and equipment. Follow those rules and life would be good. Break ’em, and you’ll be judged. 😏  (These are all pretty tongue-in-cheek, but most are based in some form of reality.)

The Rules According to Brice…(applicable to John Deere 4640s, or just about anything else)

  1. No chopped axles. Those axles never did anything to you. If you bash your leg on an axle because you weren’t paying enough attention, pay more attention next time. Put the cutting torch away. Don’t paint ’em green either.
  2. Don’t paint your front hubs green. It looks goofy.
  3. 8-speed Powershifts lead to head injuries. Quad Range or nothin’.
  4. Don’t cheap out on parts. Buy ’em from your local Deere dealer. They support you. Support them. If you’re looking for super-obscure oddball parts, call Don’s Tractor Salvage in KS. If they don’t have it, you don’t need it.
  5. Cold start videos are stupid. Don’t make ’em. They’re hard on the engine, and nobody thinks they’re cool.
  6. Chrome straight pipes are ridiculous. (He and I never really saw eye to eye on this one. On multiple occasions, we went rounds on this one via text message. They were hilarious.)
  7. Larsen LED lights are the only acceptable add-on lights for a tractor of any kind. Let the brodozer truck crowd have the cheap Amazon LED light bars.
  8. Use ’em. Even if you collect ’em, don’t stash those tractors away. They were built for a purpose.
  9. Husker football > anything else. (We went rounds on this point, too. My Hawkeyes have the last six scoreboards on their side. I win.)

The personal side…

Brice always told me that he outkicked his coverage when he met Emily. He wasn’t wrong, either (and I can say that because I outkicked my coverage when I met Kara – I know what that looks like)! They dated for several years, which by all accounts should’ve been enough time for Emily to realize what she’d gotten herself into…but she didn’t. They truly were a team, and were absolutely in love from day one. He told me once that he had no idea how he got so lucky, but he said a prayer of thanks every morning and every night. I know how that feels, too. They would’ve celebrated their 8th wedding anniversary in early December.

Brice And Emily
Brice & Emily loved their sweetcorn. Apparently it was so good that you didn’t even have to cook it! (Hopefully Emily won’t hit me for including this one…)

I firmly believe that there were only two places on this earth where Brice felt completely comfortable and at home. One was in the field, especially during planting and harvest. The other was when he was with Emily. I’m a photographer, and I see details that you might miss at a glance. In photos, Brice looks like he’s most peaceful and at home when he’s next to her, or sitting in the cab of the 4640.

Brice And Emily2
They always believed in date night selfies, and Brice’s advice to anybody who asked was always, “Date your spouse. It always makes for a happy marriage.”

Final thoughts…

The agriculture community and the Deere community really lost somebody special on Saturday. Brice was a pillar of those communities, and he was a voice for agriculture. He loved to facilitate learning and knowledge exchange so that farmers could do better. So they could keep their machines running properly, do the best for the land and the crops, and help to be a better voice for sustainable agriculture. He cast a tall shadow in his 38 years here on Earth, and he leaves big shoes to fill as an advocate for the farmer.

We lost our John Deere 4640 guy.

They say that all the stuff we say at funerals needs to be said at birthday parties instead. Life is short, and somebody you love could be gone in the blink of an eye. Don’t waste an opportunity to tell the 4640 guy in your life what he means to you.

There’s a trending movement in support of the Volker family on social media right now – #augersoutforbrice. If you’re in the field right now, do me a favor. Take a photo with the auger/augers out. Post it somewhere on social media with that hashtag. It would mean a lot to me personally, as well as the Volker family. 

 

John Deere 4020: Two of a kind!

Hero 093021

Check out this week’s Interesting Iron listings on TZ!

Every so often, I see auctions where I know the seller from one area of my life or another. Such is the case this week, with a pair of John Deere 4020s selling at an auction hosted by my friend Mark Putney at Putney Auction Services. They belong to my friend (and coworker) Cindy Howard.

Cindy joined the Tractor Zoom family just over two years ago as a member of the Auction Success Team. Basically, it’s her job to build relationships with our auctioneer partners, and help them get their sales listed on the Tractor Zoom website. She, along with the rest of the AST, are absolutely critical to our success as a company. If we don’t have those relationships, we don’t have auctions to promote. If we don’t have anything to promote, we can’t help Tractor Zoom users find the equipment they need for their farms.

So yeah…Cindy, Matt, John, and Jeremy are at the core of our company. I can’t imagine what life would be like without them.

Now, before anybody starts accusing me of playing favorites…let me clear the air. These John Deere 4020s that she’s consigning are becoming something of a rarity, because they’re one-owner tractors. Her dad bought both of them brand new from a local dealer just south of Des Moines. They’ve been in the family ever since. These were the tractors that Cindy grew up on!

I’m not going to try and write something new as far as the history of the 4020 is concerned. There have been hundreds of pages devoted to telling the story of the 4020 (and more are being released every day). There’s nothing new that I can really add to it!

So, let’s look at this pair of 4020s!

1965 John Deere 4020 (Gas)

1965 John Deere 4020
Click the photo to see the TZ auction listing!

This was the first 4020 that Cindy’s dad ever bought for their small farm (the Alkorn Ranch) out near Winterset, IA. If I had to guess, it was originally purchased at one of the local dealers (which I believe is now an AgriVision location). By 1969, Deere had over 3700 dealers in North America, so tracing tractors back to original dealers can be a bit of a challenge if the decal and paperwork isn’t handy.

At any rate, this tractor was the primary workhorse for a year or two on the Alkorn Ranch. They kept livestock, so it was sort of a do-it-all tractor, which was exactly how Deere intended the 4020 to be used. I’m just about positive that it planted corn, baled hay, and did quite a bit of choring with a loader.

At some point in its life (Cindy couldn’t remember when), loader life took its toll and the front axle blew out. When that happened, Dad swapped the axle with one from a 6030. That was a fairly common swap back in the day, as they were a lot beefier, and better-suited to the stresses of life with a loader.

tractor Front Axle
When the original axle bit the dust, Cindy’s dad swapped in a much heavier-duty axle from a 6030. Beefy is good!

The tractor itself runs well according to Cindy (I believe it was driven to the auction yard from her farm, which is at least 20 miles away). It’ll need a little a few things, but it’s got good bones, and it’ll serve a new owner pretty well, I’d imagine!

Year A Round cab
The cab will need a new headliner and doors. The seat’s in good shape, though!
tractor hood
The hood has plenty of character, but I’ve seen worse.

What’s it worth?

Honestly, you can pay whatever you want for a 4020. This year alone, we’ve seen them sell for over $30K, and as cheap as $2600. As you’d expect, the nicer (and more original) the tractor, the higher the price. And although this one is pretty original, which is generally desirable, it’s also a little worse for wear. It is a gasser, though, which is on the much less common side, so that may help the value a little bit. I feel like this is probably a $5-6000 tractor. Time will tell! The live auction starts on Saturday morning at 10AM Central, and it’ll be simulcast on the web as well. If I weren’t heading to Indiana to shoot some drag racing & tractor pulling this weekend, you’d find me at this auction!

Check out the full sale bill here!

Check out the details on this 1965 John Deere 4020 here!

1966 John Deere 4020 (Gas)

1966 John Deere 4020
Click the photo to see the auction listing on TZ!

Of Cindy’s two 4020s, the 1966 gasser is definitely the cleaner of the two. Cindy’s Dad bought this one brand new in 1966, and it’s been on the family farm ever since. I’m not sure when the Westendorf WL-42 loader came into play; it’s definitely newer than the tractor. It served as a second

Honestly, other than the typical sunburn on the hood and a ding or dent here and there, this one is in pretty darn good shape. I could go on and tell you what this tractor did at the Alkorn Ranch back in the day, but it’s basically the same as its big brother tractor up above!

Plus, the story of the Alkorn Ranch is pretty neat…and that’s coming up in next!

What’s it worth?

Based on some comparable sales in Iron Comps, I think this is probably a $7-8000 tractor.  If I had to guess, this one will remain a working tractor for somebody. Gas tractors still have a place here in the upper midwest, where chores still have to be done even when it’s cold outside…and gassers start easier than diesels in the cold! Actually, this one sports a Fireball XR700 electronic ignition, so it should fire up in just about any situation!

Check out the details on this 1966 John Deere 4020 here!

The Alkorn Ranch

I’ve known Cindy Howard for two years or more, and I knew that her background was in cattle. However for some reason, I had it stuck in my head that her family had raised Black Angus like most other Iowa beef producers. I found out this morning that this was NOT the case!

The Alkorn Ranch was in operation until her dad passed away in 1987, and they were known for one thing; purebred Charolais cattle. They’re a big, stocky French breed that seem to do pretty well in the upper Midwest with its cold winters. They’re also known for being pretty even tempered and easy to handle (for the most part).

Sentinel: The Protective Loudmouth

They raised several pretty impressive animals when Cindy was a kid, too. Sentinel was a bull that was shown in Kansas City as well as Louisville at the National Western, where it took Reserve Champion honors in 1981. Cindy told me that Sentinel was quite the animal. He was used to having horses around him at home, and during shows, Cindy had to take him on walks to the horses to help calm his nerves. She said that if his nerves got the better of him, you’d swear he was about to tear the stall down! On multiple occasions, Cindy (all 5’2″ of her) raised a few eyebrows when she marched into his stall while he was having a fit, and calmed him down almost instinctively! Sentinel was pretty protective, too. He didn’t like anybody getting near “his” Cindy.

Casper: The Center of Attention

The other notable animal that they raised was Casper. Casper was a character. For whatever odd reason, he liked costumes. Cindy told me that one of her fondest memories of that animal was walking him out of the stalls and through the main drag at the Iowa State Fairgrounds to appear on the Channel 5 news…wearing a string of five bandannas tied around his neck and a pair of sunglasses! Casper took Iowa State Super Bull honors that year as well.

Cindy’s family was very involved in the Iowa Charolais Breeder’s Association, too. Her Dad served as a director for many years, and I believe that Cindy’s still active in the group today.

At the end of the day, this pair of 4020s are pretty run of the mill. But without those two tractors, Casper and Sentinel wouldn’t exist, and Cindy probably wouldn’t be who she is today. To a point, the physical stuff around us shapes and molds us into the people we are today, or will be in the future.

And that makes these tractors pretty important, as far as I’m concerned.

Cheap horsepower, SoundGard survivors, and temper tantrums.

cheap horsepower and a survivor 4440

Take a look at both pieces of Interesting Iron here!

Let’s talk cheap horsepower and survivors. We’ll get to the temper tantrums later…

Before we get to this week’s Interesting Iron…

We’ve got big news here at Tractor Zoom! We’ve expanded our industry-leading platform for real-time auction listings by adding equipment dealer listings as well! We’re providing farmers a more complete inventory of equipment available on the market than ever before!

One of the biggest frustrations that farmers have is needing to go multiple places to find the equipment that they’re looking for. We live in a mobile world now, and farmers expect this information to be easy to find and readily available, too. In a recent survey in collaboration with Successful Farming, 91% of farmers told us they would start the search/shopping process online for their next piece of equipment.

So, we decided to solve it. Check out the new Tractor Zoom! Faster than ever before, so you can find the right equipment RIGHT NOW!

Tractor Zoom v2.0 on a mobile device!

If you’re an equipment dealer, and you want YOUR equipment advertised on Tractor Zoom, click here and let’s get you set up with free basic advertising today!

Okay, now let’s talk Interesting Iron. We’ll kick it off with cheap horsepower!

Cheap Horsepower: 1996 John Deere 8870

1996 John Deere 8870 tractor
Big, cheap horsepower. Click the photo to see the dealer listing on Tractor Zoom!

It seems like there’s two schools of thought regarding the idea of big, articulated tractors for field work. Farmers either buy the new stuff, or they look for cheap horsepower. It doesn’t need to be new or luxurious, it just needs to work. Listed at just over $46K (this one isn’t on an auction), this 1996 John Deere 8870 definitely fits the bill!

Technically, this was the very last new SoundGard tractor that Deere ever introduced. The 70-series was the final evolution of the tractor, and the 8870 was the last “all new” model in the line. In the 60-series, there was a notable power gap between the 8760 and the 8960 (300 horse for the 8760, 370 for the 8960). When the 70-series tractors were released in 1993, Deere saw a market for a 350 horse tractor in between the 8770 and 8970, so they built the 8870 to split the difference.

The 70-series tractors were designed for long hours in the field. Deere somehow found a way to shoehorn more sound deadening insulation into the big, roomy cab. This resulted in the quietest SoundGard cabs ever – the 87- and 8870 tested at 73.5 dB! Furthermore, there was a ton of onboard storage  for tools, lunch, and all the stuff that normally ends up bumping around the cab. Lastly, the 70-series came with a fully adjustable air ride seat, making life more comfortable (as well as fighting fatigue).

Under the hood, the 8870 made good use of the 619ci big block, generating nearly 336 horse on the PTO, and over 280 at the drawbar. Coupled with a long 134″ wheelbase and an operating weight of over 35,000 pounds, this was a pretty stout tractor!

The 8870 you can buy today…

I talked to Wade at C&B Operations’ Lake Park, IA location for a few minutes this morning to find out a few more details on the tractor. He told me that the tractor is actually a customer consignment. The customer upgraded equipment this summer and doesn’t need this one anymore. It was originally sold at Evergreen Equipment in Thief River Falls, MN, and is now on its third owner with 8739 hours.

It was most recently used in the fall of ’20 with a disc for some fall tillage, and again with a field cultivator in the spring of ’21. According to the owner, it’s a very sound tractor. Interior is pretty clean, given the age. The deluxe air ride seat is clean; no rips, tears, or stains. The headliner is starting to get loose in a couple of places. It’s also Autotrac-ready; just needs a receiver!

Overall, these big tractors are pretty reliable. Hydraulic pumps can fail once in a while (usually between 6-7K hours), and I’ve heard that the air to air aftercooler will crack where the tank is welded to the core. In the event you’re reaching out to C&B on this one, you might ask about those two potential trouble spots. Otherwise, so long as they’re not beaten like a red-headed stepchild, they’re typically very durable!

See the Dealer Listing for this tractor.

The Survivor: 1981 John Deere 4440

These days, survivor John Deere 4440s are anything BUT cheap horsepower!
This 4440 is a survivor. One owner, and less than 5000 original hours!

Y’know, I thought for sure that I’d written about a 4440 before, but I just went back through the blog, and amazingly enough, I haven’t. Suffice it to say that the 4440 was an icon, and they’re prized as working tractors as well as collector’s items these days.

They’ve got a special spot in our hearts here at Tractor Zoom, too. We bought one from Jeff & Amy, owners of Slabtown Tractor Repair in Lancaster, WI in January 2020 and gave it away in a contest that ended in May. The tractor ended up on a small farm just northwest of Nashville where it’ll probably enjoy a pretty easy retirement running a baler! While we had it, though, we did have some fun with it. Here’s a couple of photos from one of the days when we took her out to stretch her legs a little. (You can find a full album of photos of the Giveaway 4440 on Tractor Zoom’s Facebook page!)

For a man from Tennessee, this John Deere 4440 actually was cheap horsepower...because he won it in our giveaway back in 2020!
During the pandemic, we pretty much had downtown Des Moines to ourselves, so we drove the tractor down there to stretch its legs a little and took some photos!
For a man from Tennessee, this John Deere 4440 actually was cheap horsepower...because he won it in our giveaway back in 2020!
For many farmers, the 4440 truly was an American Dream Machine. Even now, 40-some years later, it’s still an American icon!

The one you can buy on Saturday…

john deere 4440 at auction
This 4440 sells at an onsite auction in Cottage Grove, WI on September 18, 2021. Click the photo to see the details!

Our friends at George Auction Service are selling this 4440 at an onsite auction in Cottage Grove, WI this Saturday, September 18, 2021. Lamoine & Elaine Haefer have decided to retire after a successful 42 years on their 400 acre farm. The sale will begin at 10AM Central. When I talked to Dean George about this tractor this morning, he told me that they’d be running two rings at the sale to keep things moving a little faster.

Lamoine purchased his 4440 brand new back in 1981, and it was his pride and joy! It’s been very well kept, and it’s only got 4936 original hours on it! Dean also told me that the kids had come back to the farm last weekend and detailed the tractor, and he said it looks just great!

It’s getting harder and harder to find these low-houred hidden gems in the wild, but they’re out there if you know where to look! This is probably one of the lowest-houred one-owner 4440s we’ve seen go across the auction block in the past several years, so I won’t be terribly surprised if it brings pretty solid money. $35-40K isn’t out of the question for this tractor.

One thing to note – this is an onsite-only auction. If you’re interested, you’d best plan on a road trip this weekend. Take a friend or two and make a weekend of it; the weather looks great for Saturday!

See the auction listing for this 4440.

 

Farmall 1206 in a field at sunset - usually NOT cheap horsepower!
The 1206 is an American icon…but is it worth having a meltdown over?

Temper tantrums, YouTube videos, and American icons…

There was an auction at the Farm Progress Show a week or two ago, and there was a pretty 1206 that went across the block. When the hammer fell, a young man from Tennessee paid his $22,000 and loaded it up on to a long gooseneck pulled by an F-350.

An hour later, you’d have sworn that the world was about to end.

Once the news made it to social media, it caused an uproar the likes of which I’ve never seen before. People made all sorts of horrible comments about the buyer, disparaging the guy’s name, wishing him harm, and much worse. It wasn’t pretty.

This all happened because the buyer was WhistlinDiesel, a YouTuber with a reputation for destroying nice vehicles (mainly pickup trucks) on camera. People immediately assumed that this tractor would be destroyed for nothing more than views and subscriptions. Maybe they were right, maybe they were wrong. Truthfully, we’ll probably never know.

Once he got wind of all this (I know that he read the comments, because screenshots showed up on his social media), he responded like lots of us might. He bristled, and basically told everybody that if the comments didn’t stop, this 1206 would definitely be destroyed.

The comments didn’t stop.

On Monday night, he posted a video to his YouTube channel. You can pretty well guess what ensued in it. You can go out to YouTube and watch it if you want. Believe me, you won’t have a problem finding it.

I don’t know about you, but my Mom & Dad taught me that if you don’t have anything nice to say, keep your mouth shut. Honestly, the way the tractor fan community reacted on social media was like watching a toddler have a melt down.

Folks, we can do better. We need to do better. Kicking and screaming and hoping that the tractor rolls over with him on it is utterly ridiculous. I realize that not everybody said horrible things, but there were enough that it reflects very poorly on all of us.

My take on this whole thing…

It was his money. He earned it, and he bought something he wanted. In this case, it was a 1206. He paid for it. That means it’s his. He’s free to farm with it, turn it into a pulling tractor, sit it in a shed as part of a collection…or destroy it on camera.

I don’t get a say-so in what he does with it. Why? For the same reason I don’t get to tell you what to do with YOUR tractor…it’s not my property!

Do I wish that he wasn’t destroying it? Absolutely. The 1206 is truly an American icon. Each one of them was built by hand by real humans – not robots – here in the Midwest. They were tremendous performers, too; in its day, nothing could match its performance in the field. I’m a huge 1206 fan, and knowing that there’ll be one less makes me sad.

But, at the end of the day, do I support his right to do it? Yep. I do. Because it’s his property. He’s free to do with it what he wants. Furthermore, I know that because he gets ad revenue from YouTube based on how many people watch it. He’s using that tractor (as well as the trucks and other stuff he’s wrecked) to earn a living as a content creator. He doesn’t do this stuff for free…this is literally his job. You can’t fault the guy for doing his job, even if you don’t like what it is. To a point, one could argue that he’s using the tractor for its intended purpose…to earn a living and provide for his family.  He’s just doing it in a highly unconventional way.

The Fallout

At the end of the day, I feel like the way we as a community responded to him buying the tractor may be part of the reason that he’s destroying it. We melted down, and he realized that he’d gotten under our skin. If he wasn’t convinced that destroying a tractor would drive YouTube views (and make money), our response definitely sealed the deal for him. It’s like the proverbial car accident on the highway that everybody cranes their neck at as they drive by. They can’t not look, y’know? Well, each time we can’t not look, he makes a few more pennies. The pennies add up, folks. That’s why he’s doing it.

I feel like we might’ve been able to prevent this. If we as a community of people who love old iron had remembered the whole “if you can’t say something nice” thing that our parents taught us, he might’ve figured that the payday wasn’t worth the effort. Now that the toothpaste is out of the tube, I’m pretty sure we may see more of this. He knows it gets under our skin, and that equates to YouTube views…and money in his pocket.

Final thoughts.

I’ve watched this play out on multiple different social media platforms (and from multiple perspectives). The thing that bothers me most about this is the example that we’re putting out there for the next generation of tractor fans. When an older generation (all of us) acts out like we did, the younger generation sees it, and it somehow becomes okay, so they do it too.

Folks, that is NOT okay.

It’s okay to disagree on something, and it’s okay to share our opinions, but let’s be mature enough (if for nothing more than our own self-respect) to not start threatening others online.

We’re better than that.

I hope I don’t come across as condescending or judgy; it’s absolutely not my intent. I totally get the emotion that gets wrapped up in stuff like this. When  this happens to stuff we have a strong connection to, it brings out a lot of very raw emotion. Furthermore, this is just my opinion. You may not agree with it, and that’s okay!

Find a red tractor of your own here.

John Deere 4030: Rare ones from Nebraska!

John Deere 4030 tractors
These two John Deere 4030 tractors are pretty rare! They sell at a Nebraska auction on July 14, 2021! Click the photo for the details!

See the details on these John Deere 4030 tractors here!

Although nobody knew it at the time, August 19, 1972 was to become one of the most pivotal days in John Deere history. Actually, it was a pretty big day for farming in general.

The Generation II tractors launched at Deere dealers nationwide on August 19, 1972. Four all-new tractors with a brand new game-changing design, and a new objective – operator comfort. These were the first tractors built with a cab in mind, and they did it right. The 4030, 4230, 4430, and 4630 coupled with the SoundGard body changed farming as we know it!

The 4030 was the baby of the Generation II line (a little like the 766 was to Harvester’s 66-series). It was a do-it-all tractor built to replace the 3020. Most 4030s were powered by a naturally-aspirated diesel 329ci inline six (more on that in a bit). Rated at about 80 horse, they worked well for smaller tasks on the farm. In total, there were 15,690 built from 1973-1977, and lots of ’em are still at work on farms across America. We see John Deere 4030 tractors at auction once in a while – according to our Iron Comps database, 29 have sold over the past year.

You said “most”…what’s the story there?

By 1973, gas-powered big tractors were on their way out. Deere was nearly certain of this, but they did offer a gas 4030 to see what it would do. I don’t think they had a lot of faith that they’d sell, though. They never sent one to the Nebraska Lab to be tested. Results were pretty predictable…it didn’t sell well. So, after building 222 tractors, they dumped the option.

And that’s where we get into this week’s Interesting Iron, selling at a Ruhter Auction & Realty consignment sale on July 14!

1973 John Deere 4030 Gas/Syncro/STANDARD

4030 Gas Synchro Standard
Is this a one of one John Deere 4030? Steve Plambeck thinks it could very well be! Click the photo to see the auction listing on Tractor Zoom!

Steve Plambeck is the seller of both of this week’s tractors (and a friend of mine as well). When I talked to him yesterday, he told me that this might be the rarest 4030 on the planet. He’s well-qualified to speak on the subject, too; he’s a noted Deere historian, and has a heck of a collection of SoundGard-era tractors at his farm southwest of Grand Island, NE!

Deere built a total of 222 4030 gassers, 122 with Syncro Range transmissions. What makes this one hyper-unique, though, is that it’s a factory Standard configuration. No rock shaft, no 3-point, and a wide-swing drawbar! Steve told me that he’s never seen another one like this in all his years as a collector!

4030 Gas Standard Wide Swing DrawbarThis 4030’s got a wide-swing drawbar, and that coupled with a factory rock shaft delete might just make this one a unicorn!

4030 Cab Tricycle Dealer Decal

A collector found this tractor in North Dakota about 8-10 years ago, I believe. It’s changed hands a few times since then, but nobody restored it. That’s all-original paint and patina, which is the way I like ’em!  It originally shipped to Taylor Bros, Inc. in Great Falls, MT. Based on my research, Taylor Bros incorporated around the same time this tractor rolled off the line. This is probably one of the first tractors sold at their dealership! The meter shows 3510 hours, and Steve’s kept it in good running condition. I believe he may have replaced the rubber and maybe the seat as well.

4030 Gas Standard Hood
This one is all-original too, save for fresh rubber all the way around (and maybe a new seat).

 

Wrapping up…

Can we claim it as a one of one? No. Steve hasn’t seen all 222 4030s to verify, and Deere didn’t keep detailed records during the 70s. That said…collectors talk. If there’s another 4030 gas syncro standard out there, nobody’s found it yet. So, for now, let’s call it 1 of 122. That’s rare as far as Generation II tractors go! It’ll be fun to watch this one sell!

1975 John Deere 4030 Diesel/Syncro/Factory Convertible Front End/Soundgard Cab

Boy, that’s a mouthful, isn’t it?

4030 Cab Tricycle
Remember the tractor that Tow Mater tipped over in Cars? This may as well have been the inspiration for it…and now you can own it! It sells at a Nebraska auction on July 14, 2021! Click the photo to see the details!

 

When’s the last time you saw a tricycle with a SoundGard? Definitely not something you see everyday. The best part of this one? It’s all factory! 4030s and 4230s could be had with either a Roll-O-Matic narrow front end (with one or two wheels) or a wide-front axle. The neat thing about the narrow-front option is that Deere’s engineers designed it to be converted it to a wide-front whenever you want! Factory wide-front tractors didn’t have this feature. If you ever see a narrow front like this one on a 4030, 4230, or 4040, it’s a safe bet that it came from the factory that way!

This tractor has spent pretty much all of its life in Western NE. It’s had two owners before Steve. The second owner hung on to it for close to 30 years before selling it to him.

 

This is a low-houred tractor, too. Only 5511 original hours! Steve says that it’s nice and tight, and drives really nicely too! It’s very clean inside, and the interior is a lot cleaner than a lot of 30-series tractors I’ve seen! It was resprayed at some point during the second owner’s time with it, and the rubber is fresh, too.

4030 Cab Tricycle Hood

Wrapping up…

Overall, this is a really nice tractor, and it’s pretty rare, too. Like I said, Deere’s records from this era aren’t awesome, making it hard to know how many they built. But that said…there definitely aren’t many. I know that Tom Renner has a 4230 set up like this in his collection, I saw a 4230 like this sell at an auction in Missouri a couple of years ago, and there was a 4030 sitting on a dealer’s lot in Ohio about 10 years ago that showed up on AgTalk, but that’s about it.

4030cab Agtalk
This 4030 was on a dealer’s lot in Findlay, OH about 10 years ago. No idea where it went, though…

Honestly, I have no idea what either of these will bring. Both of these fall into that unique category where there aren’t many comps. I’ll be really interested to see what they sell for!

One more thing…

If you saw a bunch of photos of really nice green tractors at a show over the past few days on social media, Steve had something to do with that, too. In addition to being a collector and restorer, he also sits on the board of directors for the Classic Green Society. Every other year, they host the Classic Green Reunion, and this past weekend it was in Columbus, OH. I couldn’t go, but I’m told it was a terrific show! Well-attended, too!

Classic Green Reunion 2023
If 2021 was any indication, the 2023 Reunion will be bigger than ever!

That said, I do intend to get to the next one in 2023. I won’t have anything to exhibit, but I’ll bring the camera and video gear and take y’all along for the ride!

Click here to see more of these cool 4030s!

 

Used Combine Values and What the Recent AHW Dealer Auction Can Teach Us

Used combine values are a big concern for many this year.  This is especially true going into the high demand August market with a tight supply of farm equipment. Just last week we saw a significant sale with Sullivan’s AHW dealer auction on June 15th. The listing was heavy with harvesting combines, draper heads, plus a few late model tractors and sprayers. This auction provides a great look at the market’s direction when analyzed with our Iron Comps database.

With over 60 lots of AHW’s equipment sold, we chose just a few significant pieces to test against the current trendline. Used combine values may be the most intriguing for dealers to look at now so they can gauge what the market may look like in August during prime selling season. For those interested in tractors, headers, and self-propelled sprayers, I’ll be diving into those in some upcoming analysis. The good mix of both Hagie and Case make for a nice brand comparison of sprayers!

Case-IH 2377

Harvester sales at this Sullivan auction ranged from $61,000 for a 15 year old Case-IH 2377, to a 2018 John Deere S780 2WD valued at $288,000. In addition to studying these bookends, a 2017 S680 4WD was analyzed. It has relatively low hours and some bells and whistles worth looking at.

The 15 year old Case 2377 may temper an overly bullish outlook on this market. With just over 2,000K separator hours, this would have justified $55,000 based on the Separator Hours vs Price graph which trends 2019 and 2020 values shown below.

Case IH 2377 Used Combine Values
Iron Comps Values Case IH 2377 Combines

10% above expectation may seem bullish, but compare that to the most recent sale where a 3,000 sep hour model sold for $67,000. This reaffirms what we have been sharing about late 2020 and early 2021 sales. Most older machines are seeing a flat or modest single-digit year over year increase in expected values.

If you caught our 5 Trends for Equipment Dealers webinar last month, you will recall that used combine values had not yet seen the post-pandemic bump that tractors have been experiencing. Some of this delay may be due to the void of late-model machines on the market. This theory was tested with a relatively young 2018 John Deere S780 at the AHW auction, which brought the top combine value of $288,000. We will dive into that next.

John Deere S780

The entire auctioneers description for this S780 is as follows:

2018 John Deere S780 2wd combine, ProDrive trans., ContourMaster feederhouse w/CommandTouch 5 spd. drive & hyd. fore/aft, 28.5′ unload auger, PowerFold bin extension, chopper, PowerCast tailboard, Active Yield, 650/85R38 drive tires and duals, 750/65R26 steer tires, LED lights, premium cab, 10″ display w/AutoTrac, Turn Automation, Data Sync, Implement Guidance, In-Field Data Sharing, Machine Sync, RowSense & Section Control activations, 899 eng./640 sep. hours, SN 1H0S780SJJ0801614

Our Tractor Zoom database has a significant number of these S780 for a quality comparison. In the  bottom bar graph below you can see a slight year over year average price increase in the S780 values. Because of all the variables in play we need to look at closer comparables to truly judge market movement. In the top graph, the orange square represents where this AHW combine ranks in terms of separator hours and sale price.

John Deere S780 Used Combine Values
Iron Comps Values of John Deere S780 Combines

Our AHW S780 is on the top end of expected values for its hours when compared to the past three years. High, but certainly not an outlier. Below we drill down even further into a look at two specific comparables. The first screenshot of Iron Comps Auction Results surfaces the most recent sale dates and closest hours. This view indicates that used combine values may have hit a ceiling.

John Deere S780 Combines Sold In 2021 Between 500 And 700 Sep Hours

However this does not indicate the market is reversing by any stretch of the imagination. Below the next image narrows down the search to the two closest sep hour comparables. Both sold in the combine flurry that was last August of 2020.

John Deere S780 Combine Between 600 And 700 Seperator Hours
John Deere S780 Combine Between 600 And 700 Separator Hours

You can see how much values have risen in just a year. From $249,000 average last year to $288,000 for this auction. A 15% jump!

John Deere S680

We have explored the top and bottom of used combine values in this auction. Approximately a 15% to 10% increase is seen, respectively, over last year. Let’s open it up and see if a mid-hour combine falls somewhere in between. A 2017 John Deere S680 4WD sold for $186,000 with just over 1,000 separator hours. Below is the full auctioneers description:

2017 John Deere S680 4wd combine, ProDrive trans., ContourMaster feederhouse w/CommandTouch 5 spd. drive & hyd. fore/aft, 26′ unload auger, chopper, PowerCast tailboard, bin extension w/tip-ups, 520/Interactive Combine Adjust, ActiveYield, LED lights, premium cab, 1,445 eng./1,071 sep. hours, SN 1H0S680SPG0795113

Comparing our S680 with other 2021 sales, the value is in line with others in the TZ database. A great comparison, pictured below, sold in late March of 2021 at a consignment auction in Minnesota for $200,000.

John Deere S680 Comparable Value for $200,000
Iron Comps S680 Combine Values

While this comp does have a refrigerator, the other options are similar and reinforce the theory that 2021 values may have hit a top and stabilized for now.

Iron Comps has the ability to filter by hours and auction type. Using this we can slice data to consist of only S680’s between 900 – 1100 hours sold at dealer auctions. Contrasting these historic equipment values, this AHW combine’s sale price exceeds 2019 and 2020 values by about 30%.

Comparable John Deere S680 At Dealer Auctions Between 900 And 1100 Hours
Comparable John Deere S680 At Dealer Auctions Between 900 And 1100 Hours

Used Combine Values in 2021

Big movements in used equipment values tend to coincide directionally with significant commodity price changes. With the exception of wheat, current cooling of the corn and soybean markets may be tapping the brakes on the rising used equipment values we have been riding over the past eight months. Another major factor at play will be the necessary demand of combines prior to this fall. Will a tight new and late model supply force prices even higher? Will downward pressure of the grain markets have any effect?  To answer these questions keep your Iron Comps app open and your eyes on the most recent sales!

The John Deere GP: How Deere proved their loyalty to the farmer.

GPWT
The John Deere GP was Deere’s first tricycle front end. The wide-track version is among the most collectible of all the “poppin’ Johnnies”!

See the details on this John Deere GP.

In the mid-20s, John Deere was in desperate need of a tractor to compete with Harvester’s new do-it-all tractor – the Farmall Regular. The Farmall Regular was a highly successful row-crop tractor that was rated for about 13 horse, or enough to pull a two-bottom plow.

Initially, Deere’s answer was the Model C – a tractor that I don’t believe they were ever really happy with. It was pulled from the market and several different changes were made all within about 10 months. The resulting tractor was renamed the John Deere GP (General Purpose) and what you see here is a variant thereof…the Wide Tread.

GPWT2
The GP-WT had a 76″ wide footprint!

Deere built the GP and its variants for roughly 7 years, from 1928-1935. Honestly, the tractors weren’t super-successful. They were heavy and underpowered, and quite frankly, there were some design issues that plagued the early tractors. They did manage to sell around 36,000 of them give or take a few, but the Farmall Regular was the clear winner in this fight.

The Wide Tread model was the first row-crop design for Deere, and it was definitely the most successful of the variants. Although it took a few different design changes for them to feel like they got it right, it did finally come together. CEO Charles Wiman was openly critical of how the Company had handled the design and development of the GP tractors. He considered the GP to be one of his biggest failures as a leader.

Personally, I think he did a terrific job of leading the charge – mainly because the company learned from their mistakes, and kept working tirelessly to fix the issues and make a better machine. That’s what the farmer needed, and Deere was devoted to making the product work!

The GP by the numbers

I’ve heard/found differing numbers as far as GP production goes, but all in all, there were somewhere in the neighborhood of 36-37,000 tractors built. It gets tricky because a few tractors ended up being recalled and rebuilt/resold with different options but using the same serial number, etc.

That said, here’s a basic breakdown.

GP: 30, 535
GP-WT: 5,103
GP-P (a modified GPWT specially made for potato farmers): 203
GP-O (Orchard): 717

Additionally, there was a fairly major design change in the GP-WT’s steering system that moved the linkage from the side (like you see on the tractor in the picture) to the top of the hood like you’d find on the Model A. The last 443 GP-WTs were all built this way, and they’re HIGHLY collectible.

So yeah, like I said…tracking production numbers on the John Deere GP is a little tricky.

The GP-WT at auction

I honestly don’t have a lot of information to go on with this tractor. Here’s what I know (or what I think I know). I’m just about positive that this tractor is a 1930 or maybe a 1931 model (I don’t have a serial number for it yet, but I’ve got a phone call in to the auctioneer). It currently lives in southern Illinois, and it sells to the highest bidder next Tuesday, March 2!

As I get more information on it, I’ll update the post. For now, though, there’s not much to go on.

Deere’s leadership during the Great Depression

Ever wonder why so many farmer families have been bleeding green for literally decades? The foundation of that brand loyalty was laid during some of the toughest years in America’s modern history…the 1930s. Deere was devoted to its workers and the farmer, and they showed it in several major ways.

Loyal to their employees

During the early years of the Great Depression, Deere’s sales plummeted over 85% in less than two years (1930-1932), forcing major cuts and a huge layoff. It was a horrible time to be in business. Still, Deere & Co. maintained a tremendous loyalty to their employees. They still paid 5% interest on employee savings accounts and they still maintained the group insurance policies for laid-off workers. But it didn’t stop there…

The People’s Bank of Moline was known to be where Deere & Company kept their accounts, and many of their employees banked there as well. In 1930 or 1931 – I’m not sure which – that bank found itself on the brink of collapse due to an internal embezzlement scheme. Deere’s CEO, Charles Wiman, brought the Board of Directors together on the day the bank was supposed to close. He made a motion to cover the bank’s losses – nearly $1.3 million! He stated, “If we do not do this, the bank closes…As I view it, there are appromixately $7 million of savings deposits in this bank, largely made by the wage earners of our factories, and the effects upon them of closing the bank, and the resulting consequences to this Company, are beyond calculation.”

That very day, Deere cut a check to the bank for $1.29 million to cover the losses, and kept that bank afloat. In turn, they saved the deposits of a great deal of their employees as well. From where I’m sitting, it was a pivotal moment in the world of corporate responsibility.

(Read more about this here.)

Loyal to the American farmer

Still, Deere wasn’t done. In 1931 alone, Deere assumed $12 million in farmer loans for equipment. For some farmers, they were the only institution that would extend credit. That was a tremendous show of faith on Deere’s part towards their customers. They knew that in addition to keeping the Company afloat, they needed to also extend a hand to the American farmer.

In an unprecedented move, Deere extended the terms on ALL of its loans to farmers. For every piece of machinery that cost more than $200, Deere extended terms to a full three years. In doing so, it helped literally thousands of farmers keep their equipment; for many, that economic relief was the difference between keeping the land and losing it!

Why did Deere do all of this? Because they knew that at the end of the day, they were forming a bond with their customers. It was a relationship that was so much more than company/customer. Deere’s actions during the early years of the Great Depression expressed faith in the farmer and helped preserve the farmer’s dignity. Farmers take a lot of pride in their occupation, and Deere’s faith in them was enough to turn red blood into green.

(Read more about how the GP-WT played into Deere’s leadership in the Great Depression here.)

(This is where I go off-script for a bit…)

Nearly every time I spotlight an older Deere on any of our social channels, I’m pretty much guaranteed to get a bevy of comments that range from “that’s the best tractor ever built!” to “the overpriced plastic tractors they make today are hot garbage blah blah blah.”

Opinions get loud and pretty fiesty, and sometimes the snide comments get pretty old, honestly.

The way companies do business has changed a lot over the years, and sometimes it ruffles feathers. That’s what happens when a company grows into a business with a large global footprint. Is any company perfect? Surely not. Deere isn’t. They’ve made plenty of mistakes along the way, and they’ve suffered the consequences, too.

I’m not sure that there’s a company  in agriculture today that takes more heat for the way they run their business than John Deere. That’s okay, too; we live in a world of very diverse opinions, and everybody is entitled to their own opinion. However…at the end of the day, I don’t think it’s fair to question their devotion to the farmer.

 

 

Auction Video: Tim & Jodi Wiff’s Farm Retirement Auction

It’s cold and snowy outside, so let’s go back a few months to when it was nice and warm and watch some retirement auction video just for fun!

Our good friend Matt Maring sent these tractors off to new owners on July 24, 2020 at Tim & Jodi Wiff’s retirement auction. Tim & Jodi were gracious hosts, and there was a great crowd at the auction in their hometown of Spring Valley, WI.

First up was a ’92 John Deere 4455 Quad Range with 6400 hours on it. Super clean, duals, and a full front rack of weights. When the hammer fell, it went to a buyer in Oklahoma!

4455
This 4455 went home with a buyer from Oklahoma! Click the photo to find a 4455 on auction!

Next on the list, a pair of 4430s – one with a cab, one open station. For all-original tractors that are darn near 50 years old, these sure looked nice!

4430s
This pair of 4430s have aged really well! The hammer prices definitely reflected it, too! Click the photo to find 4430s at auction!

This last clip is of a handful of New Generation tractors – most of which Tim had restored himself over the years. They were beautiful! I’m not sure who they ended up going home with, but hopefully they’re jewels in a collection somewhere! (And if I ever owned a 4020, it would be a Wheatland like that first one!)

4020Wheatland
One of my favorite tractors at the sale – this was an all-original 4020 Wheatland with less than 4000 hours on her! Click the photo to search 4020s at auction!

One of our goals over the next year is to catch more retirement auction video and talk with sellers, auctioneers, and buyers! So…if you see a big bearded guy with a camera in his hand, come up and say hi! Let’s talk tractors and auction prices!

Searching for John Deere equipment at auction? Start here.

The John Deere 4230: A chip off the ol’ block…

John Deere 4230
The John Deere 4230 is a workhorse, and lots of ’em are still earning their keep on farms across the country! This one only has 4453 hours on it, and it sells at a retirement auction on Tuesday, January 19, 2020! Click the photo for details!

SEE THIS JOHN DEERE 4230

We’ve dug into plenty of Generation II tractors in the past, but never at the “little brother” naturally aspirated models. Well…today we talk about one. The John Deere 4230.

The 4020 was one of the most popular “modern” tractors to ever come from Waterloo, and with good reason. It was really handy – for a farm in the late 60s, it was just about the perfect size for any job you could throw at it. It was a dependable tractor that seemed like it was up for the task at hand.

When they designed 4230, the engineers at Deere took all of the best things about the 4020 and carried them forward. To that, they added very modern styling, a small bump in horsepower, and a couple fairly major innovations. Those innovations would forever change farming as we know it…just like the 4020 did. In that respect, I suppose the 4230 really was a chip off the ol’ block!

Don’t call it a “cab”

In the late 60s and early 70s, America’s farming landscape grew very rapidly. According to census data, the size of the average farm in the midwest grew somewhere between 30-35%. With farmers covering more ground than ever before, they were spending more time on the tractor than ever before.

Until 1973, cabs were largely an afterthought. Farmers wanting them would buy the tractor and then buy a glass box from an aftermarket manufacturer and bolted it on. They didn’t fit real well, they weren’t real roomy, and generally weren’t all that comfortable. Yeah, they kept the rain off your head, but that was about it.

1206 ICB Copy
I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t be comfortable in that…

Deere watched the farming expansion unfold, and realized that they needed to change the way they looked at building a tractor. For the 4230 and its siblings, the tractor had to be designed around operator comfort.

And that’s exactly what happened. Instead of building a tractor and then a cab, the engineers designed the Sound Gard Body structure to encompass the entire operator’s platform. It was a massive change in thinking, and proved to be a really smart move!

Sound Gard Bodies isolated the farmer from the tractor. They rode on rubber bushings as opposed to bolting directly on to the frame. The bushings helped reduce vibration. Additionally, the curved front glass angled to deflect the noise away from the operator!

You’ll note that I keep referring to the Sound Gard “Bodies” as opposed to cabs. Deere was very intentional about NOT calling them Sound Gard “cabs” in their marketing. It’s a little bitty detail, but to Mother Deere, it was a pretty big deal! This was a big departure from traditional aftermarket cabs; they called it something different to grab the farmer’s attention. As you can see…it worked.

No more “in between gears”…

One of the issues that farmers experienced toward the end of the New Generation tractors was being stuck “in between” gears. The 4020 only had 8 forward speeds regardless of the transmission. Inevitably, farmers would run into situations where they felt like they were in between gears. Running in a lower gear meant winding the motor tighter than it should be. Running in a higher gear meant lugging the motor down where it wasn’t being efficient. Neither situation was a good one.

The introduction of the Quad Range transmission was a great big help in that regard. It gave the operator sixteen forward speeds; it was a lot easier to find the perfect speed with sixteen choices than it was with eight! Furthermore, within each range, the Quad Range would let you power shift the 1/2 and 3/4 shifts. That added a fair amount of convenience as well.

The Quad Range was a great gearbox for Deere, and they were produced for about 20 years. And while they’re not completely bulletproof, they’re pretty darn tough. There’s a bit of an art to shifting them (one that I haven’t exactly mastered).  But if not abused, they can last 10,000 hours or more before they need rebuilt. There’s a lot of die hard Quad Range fans out there, too. My buddy Kyle told me that he’d rather sit through eight hours of Dicamba training than drive an early Powershift for two!

If the data in our Iron Comps database (139 comparable sales) is any indication, the Quad Range vastly outsold both the Powershift and Synchro options!

Overall, the 4230 sold reasonably well. Not like 4430s did, but that was expected. By 1973, there were plenty of implements that a 100-horse tractor couldn’t handle very well, but the 4430 could. I believe the 4430 ended up outselling the 4230 by almost 2 to 1 over the 5 year production run.

The 4230 you can bid on right now…

Still, there are thousands of these tractors out there on the farm earning their keep, including this beauty near the Illinois/Indiana state line. It was among the last of the 1975 models, it’s a Quad Range tractor, and it’s only got 4453 original hours on it! It’s very clean on the inside, and the tinwork is clean and straight as well! Overall, it’s a lot better than average example of the John Deere 4230!

0119Sullivan4230cab
This interior looks pretty good for 46 years old!

Bidding is live on the auction right now, and it doesn’t end until January 19, 2021. As I write this blog post, the bid is sitting at $8250. That said, there’s still 5 days left on this auction. When it’s all said and done, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this tractor sell for $18K+.

There will always be demand for clean, low-houred workhorses, no matter what horsepower range you’re talking about. This is one of ’em!

SEE THIS JOHN DEERE 4230

If you’re looking for a Deere for your operation (or collection, for that matter), start your search here.

 

IMG 3592
The John Deere 4230 was also one of the most customizable models in the Generation II lineup. Here are a handful of the variants all in the same barn in Iowa! Left to right, you’ll see a Hi-Crop, a HFWD open station, a gasser, a factory convertible front end, and a low-profile model sold to fruit & nut growers! If I remember right, these are all powershifts as well!

 

 

 

Big Bad John: The John Deere 6030

John Deere 6030
This big bad John Deere 6030 lives in southwest Iowa until the auction closes on December 16, 2020! Click the photo to see the details and lots more photos!

SEE THE AUCTION LISTING FOR THIS TRACTOR

Ah, the John Deere 6030. My very favorite Deere of all time. If anything wearing green and yellow paint ever screamed “Muscle Tractor” louder than the 6030, I haven’t seen it yet. I’ve been waiting for a really nice example to write about, and this one happens to be fairly close to me, too!

The History of the John Deere 6030

Introduced in late 1971, the John Deere 6030 was essentially the final evolution of the 5010/5020 series tractors. They were both good enough tractors, but they seemed clumsy and heavy, like they couldn’t really get out of their own way. When the 6030 came out, that clumsy image of Deere’s “big” tractors went away pretty quickly.

What was the secret sauce? The motor. The 531 big block, in its most powerful naturally aspirated form, only turned out about 140 horse. While that was probably acceptable for the early sixties, it didn’t fly in the horsepower wars of the early 70s. To address the demand, a turbocharged 531 was introduced in the 6030 and boy, that made a big difference! Where the naturally aspirated motor made 140 horse, the turbocharged model was rated at about 175!

In 1972, Deere did offer a naturally aspirated version of the 6030 that made the same 140 horse that the 5020 made. Almost nobody bought them. A total of 45 naturally aspirated 6030s were ordered before they came to their senses and pulled the option off of the order forms in 1973. I can’t remember the last time I saw one of them sell at an auction. They’re rare animals for sure.

Don’t worry about the mule…just load the wagon!

The John Deere 6030 sold very well over its five-year production run. Word traveled pretty fast that the big brute was not only pretty light on its feet, but it was WAAAAAY underrated from the factory. The Nebraska test showed about 176 on the PTO, but if I had to guess, the test mule was probably set up for fuel economy – not horsepower. Legend has it that most of the 6030s that rolled off the assembly line in Waterloo made well north of 200 horse, which would definitely make them a little on the thirsty side. Heck, I’ve heard stories about dealer demo tractors that turned close to 250 horse on the dyno!

6030 Uselesstrivia Copy

Deere took no prisoners when it came to the 6030. At the end of the day, it was the biggest, baddest 2WD to ever roll off of the assembly line in Waterloo, and there wasn’t much it couldn’t do. But (there’s always a but, isn’t there?) when you sell a farmer a tractor that you claim will do anything they want it to do, inevitably farmers are going to say, “Well…let’s see what this ol’ girl can do!” The weak link, if there was one, was the axles. When word got out that these were overbuilt monsters out in the field, farmers started piling the weights and pulling heavier and heavier implements. Under super-heavy loads, the axle would flex enough to snap. Deere solved this towards the end of the model run by up-sizing the axle a little bit to 4″.

There was another issue, too; this time, with the motor. See, once in a while, the 531 wouldn’t like a heavy load, either. When the big block was under too much load, it did what heavily loaded motors tend to do…spin bearings. Because of that, it’s not uncommon to find a 6030 with a replacement motor in it. The motor of choice was typically the 619, introduced with the 8630 in 1975. It was essentially a direct bolt-in motor, and upped the power to 275! Talk about a muscle tractor!

Details on THIS 6030

Late last week, I had the opportunity to grab lunch with Jake Rice (Rice Auction Co. – Clearfield, IA), a good friend of mine and the auctioneer who’s handling this sale. This is a GORGEOUS 6030, folks. It’s a late 1974 model with about 7700 original hours. The motor is original to the tractor as well. It’s sporting nearly new rubber all the way around (20.8-38s on the back, and 11-16s in the front) as well as fresh paint. The seller purchased this tractor out of Brad Walk’s collection about 7 years ago.

That last part is important…

Who’s Brad Walk and why is that important?

Well, there are “6030 guys”…and then there’s Brad. Brad Walk is a collector and restorer ( My6030 ) who lives about an hour south of Champaign, IL. Brad has earned the reputation as “the go-to guy” for any and all things related to the John Deere 6030. If you need parts, he’s your guy. If you need one restored, he’s your guy. Or, if you want one with a built 619 with a bumpin’ custom stereo wearing floaters, Brad’s your guy. He’ll basically build anything you like! His collection is very cool, too; among many other tractors, he’s got the first 6030 (serial number 33000) ever built, and the last NA 6030 to be sold here in the States! Number 33000 took nearly two years to restore!

What’s it worth?

The John Deere 6030 is one of those tractors that seems to go up and down in cycles. Five years ago, you probably could have bought one in pretty good shape for $16-17K, but over the years the average prices of these tractors have gone up by about $5K. But those are for your average tractor. This one isn’t average by a long shot.

When the hammer drops next Thursday (December 16, 2020), I’m pretty sure the bid is going to be somewhere in the $30-32K range. It’s a beautiful tractor, sits just right, and for a John Deere collector (or a muscle tractor collector), this one will tick off pretty much every box on the checklist!

The Ultimate Versions of the Ultimate Muscle Tractor: Custom One-Offs

One of the reasons that I have a thing for 6030s is because they’re unique. With only 4042 of them produced, they’re not all that common. I don’t remember ever seeing a 6030 on a farm as a kid growing up in West Michigan, so I sort of looked at them as unicorns.

Well, there’s a handful of guys in the midwest who have taken that unicorn concept to another level, essentially building their own versions of the ultimate muscle tractor. Here are a few that stand out in my mind.

6030.hfwd.custom
John Deere never built a 4WD version of the 6030; adding another big heavy front axle and the components to make it work just didn’t make any sense. But where there’s a will, there’s a way…
6030.soundgard
There’s a handful of 6030s sporting Soundgard cabs running around the country. This one is probably one of the nicest ones I’ve seen. The fit and finish is just about perfect on it!
MarkBuchanan.6030T
This is probably the ultimate 6030 fantasy tractor. There’s a ton of videos on the internet of this one dragging everything from a chisel plow to a pulling sled! Really neat tractor!

The Tractor Pulling Connection

Another reason I really love the 6030 is because so many pulling tractors wear 6030 sheet metal. It seems like nearly every pulling class across the country has a handful of ’em, and since I shoot so much pulling every year, I tend to see a lot of them. Here are a few 6030s that I’ve shot over the past 10 years.

DSC01611
If you pay attention to the 4.1 Limited Pro Stock class, you probably know this tractor. Justin Wagler’s Real Deere is in a class all by itself. I’ve never seen a tractor run harder, and I’ve rarely ever met a nicer guy. Justin is currently beginning work on a Pro Stock to campaign on the Champion’s Tour in 2021.
DSC05542
The young lady in the pink helmet is my friend Sydnee Summers, and she stole the Colorblind tractor right out from under her dad’s nose while he wasn’t looking! The Summers family lives just outside of Kansas City, and 2020 was the year that Sydnee really upped her driving game. She routinely beats up on the boys, and does it with a smile! My guess is that Dad’s going to have to start shopping for another tractor here pretty soon so he can have fun behind the wheel again!
Curtis.selective
The man in the seat of this one is the bravest man I’ve ever had the opportunity to meet. He’s in the fight of his life right now with brain cancer, and the outlook is very grim. Still, you’ll rarely find Curtis Lewis without a great big smile on his face, even when he’s having a hard day.
DSC08272
This is one of those big bad huge-cube profarms from Wisconsin. Cody & Tyler Meister own this one together, and I’m proud to call those fellas my good friends.
DSC05880
I’ll bet I’ve taken a thousand photos of different 6030s, but this one will probably always be my favorite. The tractor belongs to Shawn Work, a friend of mine from Ohio. Since I took this photo in 2016, he’s done a LOT to this tractor; I’m looking forward to seeing it again in a few weeks!
River Rat
This is literally the first tractor that made me cheer when it pulled on to the track. I was 8 at the time, and I was pretty sure Don & Kevin Masterson were the biggest rock stars in the universe. (I still think that, and I still feel like that 8 year old kid walking into their trailer today.)

So that’s the wrapup on the John Deere 6030, and why I think it’s the coolest tractor to wear green and yellow paint! Go bid on this one on Jake Rice’s sale so I’m not tempted to start spending money I don’t need to be spending! ?

 

John Deere 6030
SEE THE AUCTION LISTING FOR THIS TRACTOR

Final Hammer Price: $36000 (3rd highest price this year!)

Unpopular Opinion: The 4440 isn’t perfect…

Sieren 4450 MFWD
This John Deere 4450 MFWD is an absolute cream puff with only 5925 original one-owner hours! Click the pic to see the details and lots more photos!

The John Deere 4450 was quite a tractor.

Actually, you could probably say the same thing about the entire 50-series lineup.

Mother Deere’s 50-series lineup was the biggest product line of new tractors in the company’s history. Between 1981-1986, the company launched 22 new tractors. I believe 19 of ’em were available in the States, and 3 were local to Argentina. I think that’s pretty impressive, given that the Farm Crisis was happening at the same time!

At any rate, the 4450 was definitely the bread-and-butter model. It took everything that the American farmer loved about the 4430/4440 models and improved them.

(This is the point where the 4440 guys start lighting the torches and sharpening the pitchforks…)

Wait, what? The 4440 was the perfect tractor! There was nothing better! You’re an idiot, Interesting Iron guy!

4440s Arent Perfect

I said what I said. ?

Here’s why I think they’re a better tractor from a mechanical perspective.

      1. MFWD.
      2. 15-speed Powershift.
      3. Castor Action.

Prior to 1983, most (if not all) of Deere’s rowcrop 4WD systems were run off of the hydraulic pump, and they really weren’t all that great. They were notoriously unreliable, didn’t like to work when it was cold, and they were spendy to maintain. With the introduction of the 50-series tractors, the company implemented a mechanical system that used gears and a driveshaft. It was a lot more reliable, less expensive to maintain, and unlike the hydraulic system, built to work all the time if needed.

The 15-speed Powershift was, in most cases, better for field work. It gave the operator more gearing options to more effectively use the engine’s power (i.e., less “in between” issues than an 8-speed). Furthermore, because the gearing wasn’t spaced so far apart, shifts were a little less clunky. (Come on 30/40-series guys, you gotta admit that they shift pretty hard…)

Lastly, Castor Action. Castor Action was a system that tilted the kingpin on the front axle 13° so you could turn sharper. No more taking three acres to get the tractor turned around. It was faster and more efficient because it used less fuel. It wasn’t perfect, but it definitely saved farmers time and money.

Anyway, I’m sure the 4440 crowd would argue with me until the cows come home, but in my opinion, the 4450 was the better machine. The 4440 was definitely more iconic, but it did have its shortcomings.

Farmers seemed to think so, too. While the older tractors may have moved more units, the 4450 still accounted for 1 out of every 5 tractors sold in the 50-series lineup. Hard to argue with sales numbers like that!

Sieren4450MFWD2

So, why did I choose this one for this week’s Interesting Iron? Because it’s probably one of the nicest 4450s you can buy on the market right now. I talked with Riley Sieren, the auctioneer who’s hosting this estate auction, about this tractor earlier this week. He told me that Marvin, the man who owned this tractor, was the only owner. He bought it new from R.J. Schott’s John Deere dealership in Sigourney, IA in 1986. Since then, he only put 5925 hours on it. He also told me that Marvin took a lot of pride in his equipment; he always kept it in the shed, and he was quite particular about keeping his tractors spotless inside and out.

If ever there was a cream puff, this is it. Go check out the listing. There’s a ton of great photos and Riley took the time to capture the details. I’m pretty confident in saying that this is one of the cleanest all-original John Deere 4450 MFWDs on auction that I’ve seen all year long.

Honestly, I could see this tractor hitting $45-50K before the hammer drops on December 3. I looked at some of the trends using our Iron Comps data to see what these were doing and boy, these 50-series tractors are continuing to climb in value. They’re tough tractors that are really handy on a farm of nearly any size. They’ll do nearly all the tasks that a big tractor will do, while still being handy enough to maneuver around in tight spaces. Furthermore, you can still work on ’em!

Side note: There’s a ton of great equipment on this sale. Lots of good, one-owner, well-maintained green stuff. Check out the full sale bill here.

Final Hammer Price: $55400