Posts Tagged With: Machinery Nerd

John Deere Waterloo Boy Tractor

Even though tractors have become one of the machines that the company is best known for, John Deere didn’t invent the tractor. The first gasoline-powered tractor was invented/perfected by John Froelich in 1892.

In 1918, John Deere purchased the Waterloo Gasoline Engine Company, manufacturer of the Waterloo Boy Tractor. One of these first tractors was on display at the 175th Anniversary event at the World Headquarters. I’m not sure of the age of this specific tractor, but I’m guessing it was one of the originals, as later models were the famous John Deere green and yellow.

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A Green and Yellow Party!

I have survived not  one, but TWO John Deere 175th Anniversary events so far this month, one at the World Headquarters and one at John Deere Des Moines Works in Ankeny, IA.

I was a guest at one and a party planner at the other, so the experiences were a little different. I though coordinating speakers for 200 people at a time was lots of pressure till I got to coordinate the speaking for a show like this…

What do John Deere 175th Anniversary celebrations have in common?

For one thing, lots and lots of people. I heard it estimated that each event had over 10,000 people attend, and the event for Waterloo this summer and Harvester Works this fall are expected to be even bigger.

Both events had some great old machinery on display, too. I loaded galleries without much commentary on Google Plus and Facebook,  and I’ll work on getting updates with the stories behind the pictures.

My favorite tractor from the World Headquarters event was this Waterloo Boy tractor. The steeringwas controlled by a chain, the engine ran on kerosine, and part of the floor looked suspiciously like an old board, but it was definitely a recognizable tractor.

Plus, my easily-sunburnt self appreciates any machine with an umbrella.

The part of me that was always lucky enough to run the newest equipment on photo shoots is just amazed to see how far technology has come since then. Then again, my dad likes to point out that things I take for granted were huge innovations in their day as well.



My favorite tractor on display was a John Deere 6030, which is a little surprising since it was set up right beside a good-looking 4020 tractor and I will always have a soft spot in my heart for one of them.

But look at the wheels on that bad boy! I didn’t get the specs on this particular machine (the downside to working the show) but the Series did get above 200 hp. Some of the tractors built in Waterloo now make that look small, but it had to be an absolute MONSTER when it rolled off the line.

Another great part of the events is that they were open to both current employees and retirees. I got a chance to talk with some of the engineers and welders who built the first machines at the Des Moines Works back in the early 50s.

It’s amazing (ok, and a little intimidating!) to think my stories of working at John Deere might sound like their stories some day….

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Fight Fire with Tractors

A friend from North Dakota shared these videos of rural communities pulling together. It’s a ballet of big machines coming together to move bales away from a fire.

These guys make it look easy, but anyone who has ever seen me try to operate a loader will know that it takes a lot of practice to do things this smoothly.

Rural communities are amazing, and seeing people who buy John Deere equipment in action makes me extra proud to work for the company.

Language is a bit colorful (understandable under the circumstances!) so be careful with speakers at work.

Tractors Fighting Fire (part 1)

Tractors Fighting Fire (part 2)

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One-of-a-kind, almost

There are exactly two of these in the world.

One is in Finland, where this many-jointed forestry machine was created as a concept.  The other is in the newly renovated John Deere Pavilion in Moline.

 I really wanted to climb in the cab and take it for a test drive, at least until I saw the feet. I can’t imaging trying to keep six of these things moving smoothly.

The machine itself is not actually made by John Deere (although it’s still a nice shade of green!). It was made by Timberjack, a subsidiary purchased in 2000. That accounts for the logo, too.










Pretty cool, huh?

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Happy Birthday, Mr. Deere


Portrait of John Deere

This Tuesday  is John Deere’s birthday.

John Deere the man, that is, not the company he founded. He was born 207 years ago  on February 7, 1804 in Rutland, Vermont. The company he founded has seen the invention of the engine, the tractor, even the telephone.

John Deere didn’t invent the plow- those had been in use for centuries. What he did was find a way to make plows work in the soil of the American midwest, which helped turn it into the agricultural powerhouse it is today. The company that John Deere founded is celebrating its 175th Anniversary this year.

Of course, John Deere is not the only inventor who had an impact on agriculture. Hiram Moore invented the combine harvester in 1838, and the Van Brunt brothers invented the grain drill in the 1860s to stop passenger pigeons from carrying off freshly planted seeds.  The first gasoline powered tractor was invented in 1892 by John Froelich, who founded the Waterloo Gasoline Engine Factory.

What’s most amazing to me is that while these inventions have been revised and modified through the centuries, they’re still very much in use today. Planting equipment is still built in Moline, Illinois, and some of the world’s most powerful tractors are still built in Waterloo, Iowa.

I do wonder if these men knew what a lasting impact their inventions would have. Or were they just trying to solve a problem to make life easier for themselves and their customers?

Pretty amazing, isn’t it?

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Mean Green Walking Machine

And it’s com in to the John Deere Pavilion this February.

The Walking Forester prototype is one of only two in the world (the other is in Finland) and was a test to see how the walking technology would work for uneven terrain.

I can’t even imagine how complex it would be to operate. I think each leg has to be moved separately, even though whoever is operating it in the video makes it look easy.

My practical side also has to wonder what kind of maintenance is needed to service all the legs and joints. I have to imagine it would make a track tractor look simple.

It will be on display at the John Deere Pavilion when it reopens on February 15. I see a field trip in my future!

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