John Deere Maintenance Monday: Old tractor gauges
In this edition of Maintenance Monday, we're answering a question from Rob in Oklahoma. He just bought a 1950 John Deere Model B tractor at an auction. It runs well, but one of the gauges doesn't work. Should he restore that one or just buy all new gauges?
Dan Steiner is the president of Steiner Tractor Parts in Michigan. He says the decision whether to repair or replace depends on your budget, your preferences, and if the tractor will be for show or for work. It's hard to find people who restore gauges and is often less expensive to just replace them. If you're going for as much authenticity as possible, Steiner says there are some features to look for.
"A lot of the gauges would have the name of the manufacturer. International, for example, would have an IH, John Deere would say John Deere," says Steiner. "It's not always the case, some of the brands did not have any name even though they did have distinctive gauges. I'd like them to have the same style bezel, the same color bezel, the same font on the faceplate, the same style needle. Although some of the original companies, they weren't all identical."
Gauges for the major brands are readily available online. If you're not concerned about having a show tractor and only plan to use it for general farm work, Steiner says it's okay to put generic gauges on it. But, make sure you know what you're getting.
"My biggest concern is that you get a good quality gauge. Gauges are mass-produced and there's always bound to be some percentage of lemons in the production," says Steiner. "But by-and-large, most new gauges should work well as long as they're calibrated properly."
Another option is to dig around a salvage yard. Depending on the reason the tractors ended up there, the yard may have gauges in better shape than what's on your tractor.
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