In June of 2017, Matt Hassing of Bloomingdale, Michigan noticed an ad for a local auction that included a “John Deere G.” Since the ad didn’t go into any more detail about the tractor, Matt decided to go investigate a week early and found still sitting in the basement of a barn (where it had sat for many years), what most would consider the holy grail of model “G” tractors—an early unstyled tractor with its original low radiator.
Matt ended up buying the tractor at the auction and, after doing some research, found out that it had originally gone through the branch house in Lansing to the dealer in Cassopolis, where a man from Edwardsburg bought it for use on his family’s 150 acre farm. The tractor remained in his possession until he passed away in 1974 at the age of 85, when it was given to his nephew. His nephew had problems starting the tractor so it sat in the barn pretty much only disturbed by mice and a few other critters until the auction.
Remarkably, the engine was not stuck, nor were the valves. The tires were a little low but still held air—even the fronts, which evidence seems to indicate were likely the ones the tractor left the factory at Waterloo with. The fuel tank didn’t leak and the radiator was in good condition though the water pipes, which had been a home to generations of mice and their corrosive, aqueous leavings, had to be replaced. West central Michigan isn’t exactly known for its dry climate, but Matt and his wife, Katie, speculate that perhaps all of the miscellaneous wood and tall stacks of newspapers it was surrounded by wicked some of the moisture away from it. At any rate, after a good washing outside, flushing the crankcase inside and some carburetor and magneto work, old number 3798 sprung to life again just a few weeks after it emerged from the barn where it had sat for decades.
The old “G’s” third owners aren’t planning to do a “like new” restoration to the old tractor but enjoy what has to be one of the most original low radiator “Gs” as is.