1987 - Volume #11, Issue #5, Page #19[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
Miniature tractor runs like a DeereGus Larson's amazing miniature tractor "runs like a Deere." That's because it is a Deere ù an exact, operating 1:14 scale model replica of a 1937 John Deere Model B.
Over a two year period in the mid-thirties, Larson, now retired and living near Carlos, Minn., made every one of the 728 parts in his model tractor which measures 14.5 in. high, 30 in. long and weighs 56 lbs. Today, 40 years later, the first and only tractor of its kind in the world, so far as Larson knows, still "runs like a Deere." He notes that the Model B tractor he copied had 732 total parts: "I didn't put on the four bolts to hold the cultivator so my replica is four parts short."
"I was working for Campbell Implement Co., aJohn Deere dealership at Montevideo, Minn., back in 1935 when I heard Deere was coming out with a new model tractor. This was going to be a new, streamlined model so I drew up my own blueprints and decided to build an 'exact replica' scaled-down model. Everything in that tractor I machined and made myself from scratch, working week nights, Saturdays and sometimes Sundays. I'd finish my regular work shift at 6 p.m, then work on my dream tractor until 10:00 or 11:00 at night."
Two years later, in 1937, Larson finshed his amazing tractor. After assembly, the only trouble he had was with the spark plugs. A Champion serviceman heard about his project and had special plugs built for the miniature tractor, which burns aviation fuel.
Complete with front and rear rubber tires, Larson's model tractor is an exact replica of the "real thing" except for the sparkplugs, and the ignition system which uses six flash-light batteries instead of a magneto. The spring seat is adjustable backward and forward. It also contains a gear shift (three speeds forward, one in reverse) clutch, brake, and operating belt pulley, just like the big tractor. It starts via an authentic finger-notched flywheel and is equipped with the optional pto cover, optional wheel weight hookup, and adjustable width rear wheels.
The model tractor, which runs as fast in road gear on its two cylinders as a human walks, was the center of attraction at the Minnesota State Fair from 1949 through1953. "I used to display it at other fairs and events but stopped showing it publicly about 25 years ago," says Larson, content to keep it home "where I can look at it. I just recently had it. It still runs perfectly after all these years. I've had many offers to sell it but it's not for sale. I'm saving it as a keepsake for my Grandchilden to enjoy."
Contact: Gus Larson, Rt. 2, Box 224, Carlos, Minn. 56319 (612 852-7348).
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