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Electrified “A” Starts, Stops, Runs Easy
When he was 74, Maynard Hansen’s shoulders were tired of turning the flywheel on his 1941 John Deere A. He installed a starter with a matching flywheel and a Delco 10SI alternator, but that left him with a stopping problem.
  “If you have a gas engine tractor with a magneto, there is no ignition switch. I would just pull back the throttle to shut the engine off,” says Hansen. “John Deere had a problem with fuel leaking into the cylinder, and when you’d next try to start it, it would be flooded. There is a manual shutoff, but it’s easy to forget. I wanted to shut off the fuel line when I shut down the tractor.”
  Hansen knew a fellow who worked on Ford tractors with the same problem. He came up with a solenoid to go in the fuel line to shut it down. Hansen installed one in the A’s fuel line and tied it into his new electronics.
  “A resistance bypass switch on the starter feeds current to a terminal on the alternator to start it charging,” explains Hansen. “I tapped into the bypass switch to also power the solenoid and open the fuel line.”
  Once the tractor starts, current from the alternator back-feeds through the line to keep the solenoid open and fuel flowing. When Hansen shuts off the starter switch, the solenoid shuts down too.
  “I also installed a voltmeter and ran the power through it before it went to the solenoid,” says Hansen. “It lets me monitor alternator voltage output.”
  The same V-pulley on the original fan shaft (designed to power an optional generator) that let Hansen add an alternator also let him install a power steering pump. With a power steering unit installed just ahead of the steering wheel, Hansen added smooth steering to his smooth start and stop.
  Electrifying the tractor also made shifting between hi-lo ranges easier. He salvaged an electric motor for a 2-speed shift for a truck rear axle from an old gravel truck. Hansen installed it on the A’s hi-lo shift linkage. The motor was not quite powerful enough to shift the fork until Hansen locked out the poppets on the hi-lo shifter rail inside the transmission. He attached the 2-speed motor switch, also salvaged from the truck, to the clutch shaft for easy access.
  “Now I just pull the switch to change ranges instead of reaching through the steering wheel to shift,” says Hansen. “The hardest part was working out the geometry of the linkage.”
  Hansen also rigged up a speedometer/odometer for the A using a CatEye wireless bike kit. He mounted 2 sensors on the rear axle and the monitor, where he could easily see it from the seat.
  “The 38-in. tires on the A are about twice the size of 26-in. bike tires, so with the 2 sensors, the odometer reads close to a mile as measured by GPS,” says Hansen. “The whole unit cost about $25.”
  Hansen further modified his A with a 5-bow canopy and an adjustable visor to keep the rain off his glasses. In 2014 he added “New Generation” fenders.
  With starter, power steering, power range shift, speedometer/odometer and other modifications, Hansen sees no reason to keep the A “down on the farm.” Since totally restoring the tractor in 2005, he has taken it on tractor rides every year. In 2014 alone, he drove it 1,500 miles. Now 77 years old, Hansen’s 74-year-old tractor, first owned by his father, remains his pride and joy.
  “It has been in 5 states and across both the Missouri and the Mississippi,” he says. “The highlight was the 2014 Black Hills tractor ride.”
  Once he completes his current project of replacing the original driveshaft with its worn splines, he will again be ready to hit the road.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Maynard Hansen, Box 38, Wiota, Iowa 50274 (ph 712 249-0099).

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2015 - Volume #39, Issue #3