• Last modified 661 days ago (June 1, 2017)


It’s a Deere, but it doesn’t run like a Deere

Staff writer

Not satisfied to have a tractor like everybody else’s, Wilbert Bartel of rural Hillsboro got the notion to modify a D John Deere to run like no other two-cylinder John Deere.

“No amount of explanation can exceed my ability to mess things up,” Bartel said. “I figured I could mess up a John Deere.”

He bought a 1947 John Deere in 1987. Instead of a crankshaft with alternating strokes, he split the crankshaft and created two parallel strokes.

This led to other changes, such as a different camshaft and magneto. Bartel replaced the cast-iron pistons with aluminum pistons, which raised the horsepower from 45 to as much as 61. He also made a different manifold that kept the engine cooler.

The unique modifications led to Bartel’s tractor being featured in Green Magazine and Gas Engine Magazine.

He has taken it to numerous tractor shows, where it always garners a lot of interest.

Bartel is not a farmer, but he likes to collect tractors, mainly John Deeres and Cases, but the 1947 D is the only tractor he has modified.

“I call it my perverted John Deere,” he said.

Last modified June 1, 2017