John Deere BI
RUSTY ACRES RANCH
1937 Model Year
This tractor went through a fire, so restoration will
be more difficult than most. However, only 183 BI's were produced,
so it is worth restoring. Most all the sheet metal and any item
with brass, aluminum,lead, or pot metal, as well as most springs
and many bearings, was destroyed and will need to be replaced.
Here are the first photos after I pulled it into the shop on 1
These photos show disassembly in progress 5 July 2007.
Taking a burned tractor apart takes two to three times as long
as a regular one. Matt and I find that it helps to heat all bolts
red hot with a torch, then allow them to cool completely before
removing them. Still, many of the bolts end up twisting off. These
need to be drilled out and retapped. We never use so called "easy
out" spiral screw extractors. I am convinced that they are
the invention of the devil himself and often will break off in
the hole, creating almost insurmountable problems.
7 July 2007. I was able to remove the left hand brake
drum, which has to weigh a couple of hundred pounds. After I removed
it, while still on the forklift, I was surprised to watch the
tractor tip over onto its side! No harm was done and it actually
made it easiler to remove the underneath components.
10 July 2007. Matt finished most of the rest of the
disassembly. Some of the components ( fan shaft, governor, service
brake, ets. will require further disassembly). Next, we will start
cleaning up the case, frame, rear axle housing, and front axle,
prior to beginning the reassembly process. The big parts will
be cleaned by alternate attacks with oven cleaner (hint: buy it
at the Dollar store, it is a lot less expensive there), needle
scaler, wire wheel, and lacquer thinner. Also, I need to clean
up the floor, notice how filthy it is compared to the pictures
at the top of this page!
15 July 2007. This weekend, I cleaned up the transmission
parts and reinstalled them. Surprisingly the bearings were quite
good. Some of the gears were chipped. I found suitable replacements
from various parts machine that I had. Luckily, the transmission
was the regular transmission shared by BO and BR tractors and
not the high speed transmission that some BI's had. Because this
tractor went through a fire, it needed to be totally disassembled
and every part checked. Every gasket and most every spring will
be replaced. Most of the sheet metal will be replaced, but some
of the lower brake shields should be okay.
22 July 2007. Over the last few days, I've installed
the crankshaft, main bearings, camshaft, oil pump, and oil filter
parts, replacing damaged or worn parts as needed with either new
parts or good used ones from my stash (to borrow a quilter's term)
Close inspection reveals that the cylinder block (shown below),
the head, and the radiator bottom tank are all split from previous
freeze damage. The head will not be repairable since the inner
walls at the push rod tubes are also split. Another head, block,
and tank have been found and will be used.
27 July 2007: Differential, brake covers, service brake
support, and first reduction gear cover have been installed. Note
that this BI has the special first reduction gear cover that has
the top opening for the side power take off assembly.
29 July 2007: Rear axle housing and front frame have
been attached. It's starting to look more like a tractor.I've
al;so been working on some of the assemblies that were previously
removed. Shown below is the side power take off, which I am still
trying to disassemble. Since this went through the fire, I need
to check the bearings and probably replace them. I am working
carefully on this assembly, trying not to break anything, since
J. R. Hobbs estimated that perhaps only 10 BI's were ever equipped
with the side power take off. This tractor had the remains of
a Detroit Harvester rotary broom and it was run off the side pto.
Unfortunately only the pto and a few pieces of the frame were
left on the tractor--not enough to try and complete the broom.
The third photo below shows some of the other disassembled parts
waiting for their turn to be cleaned up in the glass beader.
2 August 2007: Since last report, we've rebuilt and
reinstalled and the front end and steering components. Here Matt
is finishing up installation of the drag link. Also installed
the rear axles with new seals and felt washers. Brake backing
plates are installed and lower photo shows the relined brakes
and other brake components ready for installation.
17 August 2007- Installing the rear wheel center/brake
drums- each of these weighs several hundred pounds, so we installed
them by raising them with an engine hoist and sliding them on
to the rear axle bolts. Note htat the brakes are done, the radiator
installed, and most of the engine is back together. I am waiting
for my machinist to make up new piston pins, as the old ones are
too worn to use.
24 August 2007 - Still waiting for piston pins and
push rod sleeves, so we decided to go ahead and do the first paint
coat. The paint is from John Deere, "Old Consturction Yellow".
It is hard to cover - almost two gallons were used today. The
yellow appears a brighter yellow under direct light, more orange
with less light, but it is all the same color. We will now begin
the final assembly, followed by another coat of paint.
29 August 2007- We have started the final assembly
process, having gotten the piston pins, push rod sleeves and the
square bolts for the radiator. Today we finished getting the engine
together and the fenders bolted on, as well as other items. The
fenders did not magically go on today. Matt had previously fitted
them during the primer stage, but I neglected to get photos at
that time. Fitting the new fenders is a laborious and time consuming
job! They have to be clamped on square and level, then all the
bolt and rivet holes drilled, and finally, the exta ends need
to be cut off to match the platform irons.
We are almost ready for a test run of the engine, then
on to a final paint job and final details, like decals, rear wheels,
and touch up. It's starting to look like a tractor now!
3 September 2007, Got the rear wheels on so I could
move it around. I like to belt it up to another tractor to lube
it up and break it in a while before I try firing it up. The oil
pressure was low, so I adjusted the oil pump relief valve. I let
it run for about 45 minutes, then installed the carburetor, put
a temporary gas tank on, and let it fire up. It ran okay, but
I discovered a few problems- the carbuiretor is leaking, some
water is leaking from the radiator bottom tank, and there is also
an exhaust leak between the manifold and the head. Removal of
the radiator revealed the leak at the new pipe installed on the
bottom tank. Removal of the manifold revealed a manifold surface
that is not flat. I took the manifold in to my machinist so that
he can resurface it.
There was also a huge exhaust leak on both sides of
the block by the frame. After removing the block, I discovered
that the replacement block I used was an earlier one that has
two mounting holes that were not used on the later blocks. Filling
in these holes with bolts, then filing them off flush solved this
Late September 2007 - The tractor runs fine and drove
it around, too, but I discovered that collant is getting into
the oil. So the engine was torn down again in search of the cause,
which could only be a cracked block, a cracked head, a leaky head
gasket, or leaky push rod sleeves. I had the head magnafluxed
and all looked okay, but after the tractor was back together,
coolant still leaked into the oil. Another teardown and this time
I had my machinist rebuild a different head that I had.
14 December 2007 - Finally got the second head on after
a valve job, new valves, new seats, and new pushrod sleeves. It
does not seem to be leaking and we test ran it again, before some
disassembly for the final paint job, which Matt applied today.
Well keep out fingers crossed, and see how things run after the
final assembly next week.
22 December 2007 - Everything is now reassembled and
I took it out to test everything out. There are a few adjustments
that still need to be made.
1 January 2008 - Final adjustments have been made,
Today I applied the decals, then washed and waxed the tractor
before taking these photos. Done! (P.S. Watch for the next project
that Matt and I will undertake - a John Deere A High Crop)