Is There a Hi-Crop Crawler?

One of the advantages of being a little older and retired is the opportunity to do some traveling. Another is the chance that you might see something new and different. Still another, and probably the biggest advantage, is meeting some wonderful, helpful folks along the way.

Recently we were visiting a relative in Sherwood, Oregon, just southwest of Portland. Sherwood is right on the edge of the Portland metro area and within a mile of the house is farm country. One day I spotted a very unusual John Deere sitting along the fence right next to the road. It just looked like a Hi-Crop tractor on crawler tracks, maybe an “MC” or a 40. The next day, I went out to take some pictures of it and thought I should ask at the closest house to make sure it was OK to go into the field.

Directly across the road, I met John Lundy, who didn’t own the tractor but knew who did. John very graciously filled me in on agriculture in the area, which includes a lot of tree farming. John’s farm is planted in Douglas firs, which have done very well in the 10 years since they were planted. I went over and took some pictures of the tractor and found out that it was a 420 crawler. At the time, I thought it must be a 1956 model, as it was all green. The serial number was 104986, which I later found out made it a ’57 model. It had a blade arrangement on the front end and Mr. Lundy told me that it was used for digging small fruit trees for sale to commercial orchard operations.

The big disadvantage of being a little older is not remembering things. I promptly forgot who owned the tractor, so I went back the next day to refresh my memory. Mr. Lundy was not home, but his wife told me that the neighbor across the road owned the land where the tractor sat and would be able to point me in the right direction for more information. That neighbor was Ethelyn Sproul and she was more than helpful…she disappeared into the house for a few minutes and returned with a cell phone in her hand, already connected to the tractor’s owner, Dick Joyce.

Dick and I had a very pleasant conversation, during which I found out that the tractor was a five speed, five roller version. I have found out that the five speed was introduced on the 1957 models, which the serial number confirms. Dick is the third owner and has had the tractor for some 30 years. He uses it regularly and said it runs quite well. Dick did not know why the tractor was all green. Obviously, it could have been repainted before Dick bought it, but there are no indications of yellow paint or decals on the hood, other than the “420” designation. Maybe someone who reads this knows and can fill us in.

The tractor is a “built up” version and Dick did not know who had done the modifications. It straddles the row of trees and cuts 12 to 18 inches deep, with an 18 inch space between the crawler tracks. I hope the pictures give you a better idea than my words do of how it works.

Some of you may have seen this type tractor before, as “Hi-Crop crawlers” (my terminology) may be common in some areas. But, to an old Indiana farm boy, it was quite an eye-opener. I just thank John Lundy, Ethelyn Sproul and Dick Joyce for being so helpful and sharing this information with me. They are all great people who just reinforced my feelings about farm folk.

If you’re looking for a great place to visit, I highly recommend the Sherwood/Beaverton area, where you’ll see an abundance of vegetable crops, vineyards, wheat, sweet corn and other crops that I wasn’t even sure what they were. Oh, and let’s not forget the Columbia River Gorge and the beautiful Willamette Valley.

By the late Stan Huff

West Melbourne, FL