April Featured Collector

One of the biggest reasons people restore antique farm equipment is the family bond shared between generations. There is no better example of this in the Elkhorn Valley Antique Power Association than the 1935 John Deere D, owned by the Quinn family, specifically brothers Jim and Roger Quinn of Bennington and Elkhorn, NE and Roger’s son Russ Quinn of Herman, NE.

Their father and grandfather, the late John Byron “Jack” Quinn, farmed near Elkhorn his whole life and his first tractor was this D. Jack’s older brother Edwin owned and operated a sandpit business near Venice, NE and had easy access to equipment, which is how Jack acquired the large tractor (for it’s time), according to family history.

If you were to go back into time, you would be find most farmers in eastern Nebraska were more likely to have a John Deere A or B than the more powerful, nearly 30 horsepower D. The D was more common in small grain areas of North American, such as the plains of Canada or the wheat fields of western Kansas. The D was certainly an oddity for this area, which makes it even that much more
special.

The D, which were manufactured from 1924 to 1952, was used on the family’s dairy farm mainly as a plow tractor. The tractor was on steel when first purchased, but was converted to rubber in the 1940’s. The back tires of the tractor are the original rubber tires, over 50 years old. Talk about getting your money’s worth!

The tractor was retired in 1962 when the combination of mechanical problems and newer tractors pushed the old tractor into the line of old, outdated farm equipment all farms seem to have. The tractor sat unused from 1962 to the mid-1990’s when Jim and Roger, who still farm in the Elkhorn-area, decided it was time for the D to be resurrected.

After an ill-fated first attempt at restoration in which the person restoring the tractor filed bankruptcy halfway through the restoration process, the Quinns turned to another member of the Elkhorn Valley Antique Power Association. Jim Dillon of Elkhorn took the time to reassemble the fragmented tractor parts, laid on a near-profession paint job, and restored the tractor to it’s original showroom condition. One can only imagine the skill it would take to have put a puzzle like this back together after someone had disassembled it. Jim did an excellent job!

The D is now retired to a life of parades and tractor shows. The D is usually joined by Jack’s last tractor, a 1957 John Deere 620. Dad/Grandpa/Great- Grandpa’s tractor helps to serve as reminder of the Quinn family’s history of agriculture. More importantly, the 1935 John Deere D also acts as a bridge linking multiple generations together.


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