#14. John Deere 40, 420, 430. 1953-1960. 25-29 hp.
Note: The John Deere 40 replaced the M and MT series (my #10 post earlier). The 40 was replaced by the 420 series, and the 420 was replaced by the 430. Generally, a lot of small changes were made along the way-- mutations, if you will, and within any model the later ones are generally better than the earlier ones. Also keep in mind that these tractors were built in 11+ configurations each, 3 different fuel options, and with dozens of additional options, all of which make for some variation of specifications.
Weight: 2900-4600 lbs depending on model, configuration, and options. Reliability: Typically 90-100%, with the 430 models generally 100% Availability: 100% Parts avail: generally 100% but some optional items will be harder to get. Transmission speeds: 4 (40), 4 or 5 (420, 430). Fuels available: gasoline (all, most common), "all-fuel" low-compression for alternative liquid fuels (all), propane (420, 430 only). Complexity: 45% (40), 45-65% (420, 430). charisma: 60-70% (40), 70-80% (420, 430). Implement avail: 100%. Loader suitability: 50% but add 15% for the power steering option on 420/430, and add 5% for the optional direction reverser transmission. PTO: 540 RPM transm drive (standard on all models); continuous running PTO was an option for models 420 and 430 with 5-speed transm. Power lift: 3-point hitch, category I, included on most wheel tractor models but a few were shipped without. Also a remote hydraulic valve was optional on all models, rarely fitted-- consider yourself lucky to find one.
Configurations: VERY VERY MANY. All 3 models were available as (designation S) a standard tread model similar to the old model M, with fixed front and rear tread and with crop clearance to straddle a single crop row for cultivation; (designation U) a utility model with fixed front and rear tread and a low squat center of gravity; (designation T) a row crop tractor with adjustable rear wheel tread and larger rear wheels with at least 3 different sub-options for front end, namely (designation T (normal)) dual front wheels on a narrow front end; (designation TN) a single front wheel; (designation TW) an adjustable wide front axle with ample crop clearance; (designation W) a low squat utility model somewhat similar to the U designation but with adjustable front and rear tread; (designation C) a crawler tractor model available with either 4- or 5-roller track frames-- I'll cover crawler models in later installments--; (designation V) a very specialized high-clearance tractor with fixed tread front axle with a crop clearance of 26 inches-- very rare; (designation H) a high crop tractor with adjustable front and rear tread and an under axle crop clearance of 32"-- also very rare.
Notes: These little tractors from John Deere's Dubuque, Iowa plant in the 1950's are highly sought after today both as collector's items and as very handy workhorses for the small acreage. Though they have their quirks, these are highly capable machines which were basically almost tailor-made to suit each original buyer's needs. They feature vertically oriented 2-cylinder engines and a foot clutch, as opposed to the horizontal 2-cyl engines and hand clutch used on the larger model tractors offered by JD in the same time period. All 3 models featured live hydraulics as a standard feature, making them quite suitable for loader operations when equipped with a hydraulic outlet. Their 3-point hitches make them ample platforms to use all the standard modern 3-point implements available. Choose a configuration and fuel combination that suits your needs. The W config is particularly good for use on steep hillsides. Important options include the continuous PTO which was only available if the 420 or 430 was equipped with the 5 speed trans; and evidently not all 5-speeders were equipped with continuous PTO-- it was an option on an option, so to speak. Other options were the remote hydraulic valve-- important for loader work, power steering available on 420/430, and a direction reverser available for the 4-speed trans on 420/430. This is not a power reverser as found on some more modern equipment; it simply allows every forward gear to also be used as a reverse gear, allowing 4 speeds in reverse. For the cost-conscious, you can often get a cheaper deal on the model 40 since collectors tend to skip over it a bit to concentrate on the flashier and more powerful 420 and 430. The 420 and 430 are almost identical mechanically and in terms of capability, the main changes being in styling. The late 420 (after serial 125,000) and the 430 have a beefier transmission than earlier models, so I've been told. . . .
Right now you can buy model 40's in the $3,000-6,000 range, 420's in the $4500-7,000 range, and the fanatically popular 430's all over the board in the $5,000-18,000 range. For all models, the rare hi-crop (H) and hi-clearance special (V) will be extremely expensive due to their rarity and popularity as collector's items-- you probably couldn't touch a running one for less than $25,000 and I see them listed for $40,000 and up as restored collector's items. For your typical farming or gulching operation, you don't need the high clearance. Buy one of the other configurations according to your needs. Keep in mind for most purposes the 420 and 430 are mechanically the same and have the same power, so spend less money and buy a 420. Generally speaking, if these tractors are in decent shape when you buy them and you keep them maintained, they won't let you down. Expect to take care of 5-50 acres with one of these little over-achievers.
My rating: 90% (40) 100% (420, 430).
Model 420, and 40. The 420 is a utility configuration, and painted yellow for industrial applications (ie roadside mowing, etc). The 40 is a rowcrop (40T) with adjustable wide front end. These are just two of many configurations available for these 3 models. Notice how the 420U is lower to the ground than the higher-clearance 40T.
A 40S, or standard. The so-called standard configuration for these models was a single row crop, similar to the config of the earlier model M they were derived from.
And they also made crawler versions. Here is a 420C. We will focus on crawlers when I've exhausted my list of good wheel tractors. . . . .