Restoring Generation II Instrument Panels

When Deere redesigned the New Generation tractors, many things changed and some remained the same. With the New Generation 10 and 20 series tractors, the instrument panel followed the two-cylinder design concept with individual gauges mounted to a dash panel. A person could change a gauge by removing some sheet metal, removing a few wires, then removing a couple of screws and detaching the gauge.

When the New Generation 30 series tractors were introduced, Deere moved to a more modular design for the instrument panel. The tachometer remained as an individual item, but the water temp, engine oil pressure, transmission oil pressure, voltmeter, fuel gauge, and air restriction indicator were all clustered together on a printed circuit board. A single harness plugged into the backside of the gauge cluster, making the connection a simple plug-n-go process.

The instrument panel itself was changed from metal on the 10 and 20 series to a one-piece plastic panel on the 30 series. For collectors, this will be a challenge to find a pristine, correct panel for your tractor. Deere used a R50476 panel to serial number 12,999 (telescoping steering), R55993 from 13,000 to 29,429 (telescoping steering), R61339 for serial number 29,430 and up for telescoping steering, R54393 to serial number 12,999 with telescoping steering and power front-wheel drive, R55994 for serial number 13,000 to 29,429 with telescoping steering and front-wheel drive, R61340 for serial number 29,430 and up with telescoping steering and front-wheel drive, R50477 to serial number 12,999 with fixed steering, R55991 from 13,000 and up with fixed steering, R54394 to serial number 12,999 with fixed steering and front-wheel drive, R55992 from serial number 13,000 and up with fixed steering and front-wheel drive. These are original part numbers—you will find most are no longer good part numbers. If my local Deere dealer gave me good information, they will sub to a single part number.

One option on the New Generation 30 series was to have left and right directional signal lights. There were two arrows on the instrument panel, one on each side of the steering column. This will be a problem if you need to replace your existing original instrument panel. If your tractor did not have direction signals, you will be disappointed to find the currently available replacements from Deere will include these direction signal arrows whether you want them or not. The other challenge will be for those who are restoring one of the 4230 gas tractors. Since only 33 of these were made, Deere has not kept any inventory for the special parts that were unique to these tractors. One of these parts is the instrument panel. In Photo 1, we can see an original instrument panel from a 4230 gas tractor. Since these tractors did not have an injection pump, there is not a provision on the instrument panel for an injection pump shut down pull cable. Unfortunately, all the replacement panels from Deere will have an indentation for a diesel injection pump shut down pull cable unless my local parts man gave incorrect information.

In Photo 2, we can see the backside of the original instrument panel, with the tachometer and gauge cluster in place along with the tilt steering sliding shield. Photo 3 shows a new replacement instrument panel from Deere. You will note in the lower right corner, the notch for the injection pump shut down the pull cable.


Transferring the tachometer, gauge cluster, ignition switch, light switch, cigar lighter, horn button, and indicator lamps is just a matter of removing these items and transferring them to the new panel (Photo 5). The tachometer is held in place with self-tapping screws and metal clips (Photo 6). If you have a question about where to place a switch, light, or gauge, you can set your parts book on the bench and refer to pictures in the parts book (Photo 4).

When Deere introduced instrument panel changes at the various serial number breaks, it may be necessary to put the ignition switch and light switch in opposite holes for clearance issues. The shield for tractors with tilt steering can be removed from the original panel if you so desire, but in most cases, you will find the plastic has faded and will not match the new panel color. In this case, a new shield is being used to replace the old one. It’s just a matter of sliding the new shield in the tracks provided on the backside of the instrument panel (Photo 7).

In Photo 8, the original tachometer, gauge cluster, horn switch and lighter have been put in the new instrument panel. Deere makes a plug button (R56264) to fill any holes that might be extra for your tractor to give your new panel a finished look. There is one more “hiccup” with putting a new replacement panel on an early serial number tractor. The mounting hole on the lower right side of a new instrument panel, near the diesel injection pump shut down pull cable, is relocated and does not line up with the original mounting hole location (thanks, Mother Deere). You will have to examine your tractor and figure out how to best attach that corner to your tractor.

If your tractor originally did not have directional indicators, you have a couple of options. One—you can purchase an AR67823 kit, which will give you everything but the controller and mounting brackets to put the lights and directional lever on your instrument panel. To complete the installation, you would also need an R56413 bracket to hold the lever and controller in place. There are two different controllers, an AR64422 for turn signal and flasher for flashing warning lights or an AR67398 for turn signals and constant burning warning lamps. Again, these are original part numbers and may be substituted with new numbers. You will also need three of an R53028 screw and two of an R61341 bracket for the lamp sockets. Your second option is to put the R61341 brackets in place with the AR67340 socket up to serial number 29,429 or bracket AR74339 above serial number 29,430. Connect the wires for these lamps to the wire that feeds your fender warning lamps or cab warning lights so they will flash when your warning lights are on. In reality, a third option exists and that is to just leave the holes empty.

If you are lucky, your existing instrument panel will be in good usable condition and you won’t have to deal with all the variables associated with these tractors. This may be one disadvantage to the movement toward these plastic parts. It was fairly inexpensive to make part changes for the manufacturer and the per-part cost was also quite low. For a collector, it can bring a few more gray hairs to your head or even stress a person’s religion! With this particular tractor, the original instrument panel was broken at two corners and one of the attaching points was broken off. For some reason, this instrument panel must have had a rough life. Makes a person wonder just how some people use their tractors or just what they used them for. While the new panel is ready to install, I’m still looking for a good used original panel that matches the one that came off this tractor. All in all, the original gauges put in a new panel will certainly dress up your tractor even if the new panels from John Deere are not technically correct replacements (Photo 9).

For those who are active with the New Generation collecting, you are part of an extremely fast-growing segment of our hobby. For those who have not thought much about New Generation tractors, some of these tractors are now more than 40 years old and there are a host of very low production tractors to be collected. At this time, Deere has not released any production numbers for these tractors, although some individuals have taken the time to manually go through the Deere archives and manually tally production totals for some New Generation tractors before Deere closed the archives to general researchers a number of years back. Recent communications with Deere indicate the company may reconsider opening the archives to researchers on an individual basis. The production records for the 10, 20, 30, and 40 series are recorded on hard copy (paper) and will require a manual count to get the information that collectors have been requesting. Considering there are literally hundreds of thousands of records to go over, this is not a small undertaking by any stretch of the imagination.

Enjoy your John Deere equipment and the knowledge that we are preserving this country’s agricultural history.