From my vendor booth at the Gathering of the Green, I learned that while some folks have a real good handle on John Deere plows and plow bottoms, there were several common questions I received. I’m going to try and share the common questions and answers in hopes that perhaps you might have the same ones on your mind.
1) I need new shares for my JD 44 plow. Do you have any?
Answer: First, we must figure out which type of plow bottom your plow has. Knowing the plow model number is a great place to start but really doesn’t mean anything in terms of the type of plow bottom with which it’s equipped. I use the analogy about ordering plows and plow bottoms to going to Baskin-Robins for ice cream. While the most common plow bottom (talking specifically about plows built prior to the early 1950s with “conventional” or blacksmith type bottoms), NGP is similar to vanilla ice cream in terms of commonality, although Mr. Farmer could have ordered other flavors of plow bottoms to meet his specific needs. Then one must specify the cutting width of the plow bottom (most commonly 12, 14 or 16 inches; however, 10 and 18 inch bottoms were available). While most of the time a quick measurement of the plow frame will determine the plow bottom width, it’s not all that unusual to have a 12 inch plow frame with 14 inch bottoms. This is precisely why locating the part number on the share (located on the bottom side, which will require removal from the plow to identify) and the part number on the frog (see picture). With these two numbers, it’s possible to pinpoint exactly what parts are needed to properly identify your plow bottoms. Note: It’s important to inspect all the plow bottoms on your plow to ensure that they all match; remember Mr. Farmer might have “borrowed” parts from another plow that might not have matched what he had, but for the sake of function was good enough.
2) Can I put the “throw-away” type shares on my JD No. 4B plow?
Answer: No and yes. If your older JD plow is equipped with “conventional” blacksmith bottoms, then you must use only the shares designed for them. The conventional shares “slip” on and are fastened using only a single I-type draw bolt, whereas the throw-away shares for the newer style High Speed (HS) bottoms actually use bolts (three or four) to fasten to the plow frog and brace. Due to the lack of parts availability over the years, it’s common to see a newer HS series plow bottom on an older JD plow. One option to fix up an older JD plow with worn out conventional bottoms (assuming exact originality isn’t as important as functionality) is to detach the original plow bottom and install a frog for an HS series bottom. Ironically, JD kept the hole pattern in the plow standard (some guys call this the shank; basically the part to which the whole plow bottom fastens). By doing this, you have the option of purchasing all new wear parts (share, shin, moldboard and landside), thus eliminating worn plow parts as the cause for poor plow operation.
3) What style of coulter is right for my plow?
Answer: Coulters were also similar to plow bottoms in that multiple options were available. The plow coulters are found in the part catalog specific to your plow so starting there is the best advice. The good news is that many various blades were used on John Deere plows; however, the hole pattern was such on most models that allowed parts interchangeability. For instance, the plain 15 inch blade coulter using a three rivet bearing hub can also accept new six hole blades (using the common 3.5 inch six hole spacing). Currently there are only a few options for new coulter blades including 17 inch notched or 17 inch plain and 17-18-20 inch fluted.
A few tips on choosing the right coulter for your plow is to start with determining if you have the correct brackets (or clamps) that the coulter shank would fasten to. Some plows used 1-1/4 inch diameter shanks (typically older earlier plows, i.e. No. 52 or Yakima built plows) while more commonly, 1-1/2 inch diameter shanks were used. Another facet to pay attention to is the “offset” of the correct coulter shank for your plow. For instance, integral (three-point) hitched plows frequently use different offset shanks (such as five inch or seven inch) whereas most trailer type or drawn plows used the common three inch offset.
One thing for certain about plow coulters is that they are often missing and locating replacements is a difficult task. Some of the coulter parts are available new from Deere; however, as one might expect, would be cost prohibitive. Often times, other brand plow coulters might be found on your plow as other manufacturers used 1-1/2 inch shanks, thus allowing Mr. Farmer to install about whatever he could find.
4) Could I install new HS moldboards on my plow that uses blacksmith type shares?
Answer: No. Moldboards, like landsides and shares, are specific to the series of plow bottom that they belong. The only way to install HS moldboards on any plow bottom is to have the correct frog for that bottom. Additionally, all 14 inch HS plow bottoms use the same moldboard as do all 16 inch HS bottoms (excluding slat SDT bottoms).
Outlined at top is the trip standard side plate. Circled below is the standard to which the plow frog and bottom are bolted. The arrows indicate what to measure to find the frame bar height.
5) Does anyone make new moldboards for my EP series JD plow bottom?
Answer: To my knowledge, no manufacturer today is making new moldboards or shares to fit any of the conventional “blacksmith” type plow bottoms. This naturally presents a great challenge to locating good usable parts for these bottoms. Deere and Co., among other aftermarket manufacturers (Star, CF&S—Crescent Forge and Shovel and others) have either discontinued bottom parts for these plows or are out of business. Perhaps in the future someone will take up the charge and produce new shares and/ or moldboards for these plow bottoms. At the present time, I have a limited amount of reproduction landsides for the conventional plow bottoms, however, for only the most popular bottom types.
6) Where can I purchase decals for restoring my JD plow?
Answer: The same suppliers who make other decals for John Deere tractors and equipment can provide you with the correct decals for your plow. It is important, however, that you do your homework in researching the type of plow you have. For starters, an operator’s manual is critical to have handy as there are often diagrams or photos in them which show decal placement. Perhaps the best resource for decals, paint and color schemes and other optional equipment is original John Deere sales literature such as brochures or other advertisements. I would suggest eBay as a good place to begin your search. It’s important to know that most, if not all, plow wheels were painted yellow, with the exception for some of the wheel hubs perhaps being painted green.
It has not been determined to my knowledge when JD used green or switched to yellow on plow tail wheel hubs (examples of this are several original paint No. 55 plows with both green and yellow hubs). The back side of moldboards was generally painted green prior to the mid-50s and then switched to black a few years after the HS plow bottoms came out in 1953. Whether green or black, the correct period John Deere “leaping deer” logo would have been stenciled/ silkscreened on the back of all plow moldboards. Many plow moldboards also included the plow bottom series in conjunction to the logo.
Here is a rear and side view of the HS (High Speed) John Deere plow bottom. Notice the share is attached with bolts. Also note the braces are quite different from the conventional plow bottoms.
7) What plow bottom is correct (as from the factory) for my John Deere No. 55H 3×14 inch plow?
Answer: While most two-digit model JD plows left the factory with conventional “blacksmith” type plow bottoms, there are a few years in which both conventional and the new HS bottoms were produced. If you ordered a new JD No. 55H plow after 1953, you could have ordered either type of plow bottom. Some double-digit trailer type drawn plows (44, 55, 66), along with the 810 series integral plows found today, were likely converted years back from their conventional bottoms when they went to the dealer for parts. Many plow demonstrations provided back in the ’50s and ’60s showed Mr. Farmer that for plowing at faster speeds, the new John Deere HS plow bottom pulled easier and did a better job of plowing than the older style conventional bottom. This is not to say that the conventional bottom isn’t as good as the HS bottom; it’s just that for plowing at faster speeds (remember as the tractors and farms increased in size, Mr. Farmer needed to move faster to get the work completed), the HS series bottom was superior in performance. It’s also important to note that Deere offered conventional “blacksmith” type plow bottoms as optional equipment into the 1960s and perhaps even later for the customer who desired it.
Here is a beautiful picture of a 3010 with an F610H plow. Notice the green wheel hubs, stiff standards and hydraulic lift. The hydraulic cylinder was included with the 3010 tractor and have been a 3×8 cylinder found in the 3010 parts catalog. The plow beam was made of two “C” channel steel beams welded together to form a box, which is the tell-all way of knowing if your plow was made after 1961.
8) How can I tell what year my plow was built?
Answer: Unfortunately it’s often difficult if not impossible to determine the exact year of production of any John Deere plow as serial numbers were not used until the mid-1970s. The only way to narrow down the range of years your plow could have been built is to closely study the part catalog for your specific plow. A handy resource is the book, The John Deere Moldboard Tractor Plow 1914-1960, as it provides the most comprehensive look at John Deere plows in so far as optional equipment and years produced that I’m aware of. (For more info, see the website www.thebedacompany.com.)
9) What is the correct remote hydraulic cylinder for my plow (such as a 66H or perhaps F620H)?
Answer: John Deere provided hydraulic cylinders with its tractors back then, not with the plow or other implement. In other words, whatever cylinder is correct for your John Deere tractor is what would be correct. If you can’t find a correct original type cylinder for your tractor, any SAE hydraulic cylinder with an eight inch stroke (such as 2-1/2 inch or three inch by eight inch) with one inch diameter pins and clevis type jaws on both ends usually available at your local farm store will work just fine.
10) My plow has a double boxed type beam and the decals are non-existent. How can I tell what model it is?
Answer: Yes, determining the model of your “New Generation” era plow is a common question. First, it’s best to know the following:
1) How many lug bolts does your furrow wheel use (either four or six)?
2) Does your plow have spring trip bottoms and a plain hitch or fixed (solid) with a spring hitch?
3) If you have the spring trip type bottom, what is the thickness of the side plates of the trip mechanism?
4) What is the size of the frame bars on your plow (2-3/4 inch or three inches tall)?
Here is a quick list of the various F600 series plows and how to tell the difference between them. If your plow is a clutch-lift plow, then it will only have an F and the three digit model number such as F620. Add the H suffix if it is a hydraulic lift type.
Standard duty plows: F610/ F620/ F630 plows all have 2-3/4 inch tall frame bar material and four bolt furrow wheel rims. The F610 and F610H use stiff standards. The F620 and F620H have trip standards. The F630 and F630H use the heavy duty (one-half inch thick side plates).
Medium duty plows: Three, four and five bottom F640/ F650/ F660 plows all have three inch tall frame bar material and six bolt furrow wheel rims. The F640 and F640H use stiff standards with a trip or spring cushion type hitch. The F650 and F650H have regular-duty trip standards. The F660 and F660H have heavy duty standards (one-half inch thick side plates). Note: There were special duty versions of these plows built in only three bottom sizes that used four bolt furrow wheels/axles and are somewhat uncommon.
Heavy duty plows: F670/ F680/ F690 plows all have three inch tall frame bar material and six bolt wheels. The F670 and F670H use stiff standards with a trip type hitch. The F680 and F680H used regular trip standards. The F690 and F690H used the heavy duty (one-half inch thick side plates) trip standards. The easy way to tell if you have a heavy duty F600 series plow is the crank screw type leveling adjustment.
Hopefully these frequently asked plow questions and answers have helped you to better understand your plow. As always, should you have additional questions, please email me. If you don’t have a copy of PC 158 (Plow Bottoms) or need a copy of a conventional plow bottom cross reference list showing possible combination of bottom parts, email me and I’ll be happy to email a copy as well. When in doubt about your plow question, consulting the original part catalog is an absolute must.
Contact Tyler Buchheit by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. His website is www.mrbtractors.com.