John Deere Model D tractor restored

By: Cat Fitzpatrick

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After decades of inaction, a 1929 John Deere Model D tractor has been restored to its former glory by West Australian farmer Vince Gallinagh

The restored John Deere Model D
The Model D receiving some love
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Originally purchased for about £400 by Vince’s father, Joe Gallinagh, it was shipped from the US to Fremantle in 1930. After arriving at the port, the tractor was placed on a train and hauled up to the Gallinagh family farm in Dowerin, in the central Wheatbelt region of Western Australia.

Packed with cutting edge features for its time, one of the most notable assets of the machine was its interchangeable wheels: ‘steels’ with cleats for ploughing and ‘rubbers’ for seeding and harvesting. Vince notes that "changing the wheels was a matter of undoing a three-inch nut, slide off, and slide on – pretty easy".

The Model D spent much of its life dragging a log for land clearing. Vince adds: "[It was] such a reliable tractor, actually quite powerful 30 horsepower [22.4kW]. Others [were] not as powerful. They were easy to start, no shot-gun shells or crank, just put the choke on, swing the fly-wheel and bang, away she went."

After approximately 30 years of action, including a relocation to a new family property in Corrigin in May 1949, the family stopped commercial use of the Model D around 1960. The tractor was repurposed and spent the next six years running a belt-driven water pump taking water from the dam to a tank for garden watering on the property. It also spent time cutting chaff hay for the horses and cattle.

Eventually, no longer needed, the Model D lay parked under a big Salmon Gum in a creek bed for approximately 35 years. In 1996, to help reduce further damage, it was towed to a shed where Vince started to dabble with it as time permitted, pulling the head off the engine and getting it running. Occasionally being used to transport Father Christmas to give out presents on a couple of occasions when a big Gallinagh Family Christmas was held, it was 2009, when Vince and his wife Sue thought they could finally ‘semi’ retire, that work began on finishing the restoration.

The engine was painstakingly restored. The radiator had a tiny seep around the gasket on the head tank but the brass core was still as good as new and has been kept as the original. Parts like mud guards and foot plates were sourced from John Deere in America, whilst Carnamah local, Hal Walton, who owned a local John Deere dealership at the time and was a fellow restoration enthusiast, managed to source the necessary parts.

The now restored Model D is still kept in Vince’s shed but is available for public viewing at least once a year at the Corrigin Agricultural Show on the Ag Implements Narembeen (Local John Deere dealer) display. It’s an intriguing piece that’s popular with visitors when started up.

Further to the family’s John Deere Model D Tractor, Vince has restored a collection of other historical machines including a rare Chamberlain 6G tractor and two Chamberlain 9G tractors.

The Model D tractor will be on display at the Corrigin Agricultural Show in the first week of September 2019.

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