By Mary Herbers /
June 2010 Green Magazine
John Deere sales literature issued in November of 1964, for the 1965 model year, introduced the new front-mounted, side driven model 540 PTO unit. It was developed by Deere to increase the versatility of the 110 garden tractor and therefore expand its customer base. It was marketed by Deere to farmers and ranchers to run generators, portable elevators, and any other PTO-powered equipment which required eight horsepower or less.
As with all John Deere lawn and garden tractor equipment, it was easy to mount (no tools were required) and designed with the safety of the operator in mind. It was V-belt driven and had a standard spline shaft with a sturdy, non-removable safety shield. The PTO was designed to NOT operate if the safety guard was removed. The operator could use the convenient hand-control lever for starting and stopping the unit while the tractor engine was running.
This unit was 31 inches long, 21 inches wide, and 26 inches tall. It weighed 49 pounds and the sheave diameter was 18 inches.
This model fits the 110 and 112 pan seat models, which were produced from 1963-1968. We have two of these units in our collection and both had brass tags with the SAME serial number. I talked to several other collectors, including Kenny Jernigan of Christiana, Tennessee, who also had the same brass tag with serial number: EO540 064050M on his 540 PTO.
I wonder why John Deere even bothered to have a serial number tag if all were going to be the same number? My husband thought maybe it was a mistake on the early pieces, but someone caught the error and began changing the numbers later in production. One way to find out is to ask for your help. If you have a model 540 PTO unit, would you let me know if yours has a serial number OTHER than the one mentioned above. It would be interesting to know what happened and if and when they began changing the numbers. Thanks in advance for your help!
In 1968, Deere introduced the model 541 PTO for use with the 110 and 112 garden tractors. It was front-mounted but side-driven. It again was V-belt driven, with a standard 540 RPM spline shaft and sturdy non-removable safety shield.
This unit could be started and stopped by the PTO control on the tractor. Speed increase or reduction was through the gearbox. No tools were required for mounting.
We have two 541 PTOs in our collection that have aluminum, riveted-on serial number tags with different serial numbers. The third one is older, with a brass, riveted tag. It also mounts and faces the opposite direction of the other two. None of our 541s has an “A” behind the type.
The price of the 541 was $104 in July 1969, with a shipping weight of 55 pounds. In March 1970, the price and shipping weight was still the same, but by July 1970, the model 541 was no longer on the price list—only the 541A.
Price of the 541A PTO unit from July 1969 through July 1970 was $109. From July 1971 through August 1972, it was $120. In June 1974, the price was $132. By November 1974, the price had risen to $165. Shipping weight was 71 pounds.
Also introduced in 1968 was the model 542 power take-off unit for use with the John Deere 140 garden tractor. It was front mounted and front driven. It was also compatible with the 120 garden tractor, which was introduced in 1970.
Price of the model 542 PTO unit from July 1969 through March 1970 was $109. By July 1970, the price was $113. From July 1971 through August 1972, the price was $ 125. In June 1974, the price was $139 but by November 1974, the price had risen to $165. Shipping weight was 52 pounds.
We have a model 542 PTO unit, which has green and yellow decals and a brass tag. The other one has an aluminum, stick-on type serial number tag and the type number starts with “T” rather than “EO” and has a “ J” behind it. The decal on this unit is not colored as on the previous 542s. Again, if anyone has this type of a tag with type number ending in “J,” please let me know.