Most of us have probably hatched some idea in our brains about building a tractor that Deere never did. Perhaps you wanted to put tracks on an “R,” MFWD on a 730 or a diesel engine in an “L.” The trouble is that, with most of us, the project never gets beyond the dreaming phase.
One person who turned his dream into a reality, though, is Obie Van Dyk of Pella, Iowa. His dream was to build a styled “A” standard, something a little different than what we know of as an “AR.”
The starting point was overhauling the engine on a 1945 unstyled “AR” that would be the basis for the new tractor. Because he wanted to be able to take the new model on tractor drives, Obie replaced the main case with one from a six speed row crop. When this was done, the tube that the vertical steering shaft goes through on a standard tractor was lost. Local machinist Bill Van Zante drilled holes in the row crop main case and installed a tube and bearings for the new steering system. Turning brakes were also added using a combination of parts from a row crop “A” and styled “AR.”
The frame was extended in the front by bending a piece of one-half inch by four inch steel to the same curve of the styled grill. Since there was no center pedestal to bolt the two halves of the grill to, like there is on a row crop tractor, a piece of sheet metal of the same dimensions had to be made. For this, the help of John Deere restoration legend Lawrence Van Zante, who lives nearby, was enlisted. Brackets to mount the styled hood were made and the water and exhaust pipes were reshaped.
To complete the sheet metal, the steering rod hole in the hood was closed and styled “AR” rear fenders were bolted to the rear axles.
After three years of work, Obie Van Dyk has a tractor that looks like something that might have rolled out the door at the Waterloo factory, but actually rolled out the door of a home shop in Pella, Iowa.
That’s Obie with the tractor below, however he sold it at Mecum’s 2015 auction, and it is now owned by Mike Scher of Columbus, Indiana.