reviving Grandpa's tractor

Discussion in 'Shiny Things' started by john112deere, Dec 22, 2019.

  1. john112deere

    john112deere Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2011
    Oddometer:
    180
    Location:
    central VT
    I may be a little premature starting this thread, but here we go anyway.

    I'm going to start working on my Grandfather's John Deere 112 soon, with the goal of getting it running well and plowing snow this winter.

    Sometime around 1971/72, Grandpa bought a dealer demo/lot used John Deere 112, with a mower deck and snowthrower. He built a plow blade and hydraulic dumping cart for it sometime through the '70s, and used it for the rest of his life. He bought me a similar "parts" tractor when I was about 12, and that's where I cut my teeth twisting wrenches.

    The last 15 years haven't been quite as good to the machine, but it's been under cover and protected. I trailered it home from where it had been stored yesterday, and hope to start working soon...first order of business is a functional tire on the right front so I can roll it around while I'm working.
    T112H - 3.jpg

    T112H - 4.jpg

    T112H - 1.jpg

    T112H - 5.jpg

    T112H - 2.jpg


    I'm not planning to restore this tractor; it was built and bought to work and that's what I'll use it for. I do want it to run well and work reliably...I like playing with these things, but I don't like farting around with them when I need to use them.
    #1
    cjbiker, Purcell69, mick and 5 others like this.
  2. High Hope

    High Hope World's Best Dog Supporter

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2005
    Oddometer:
    12,751
    Location:
    North Carolina
    Post your progress. My dad had a Toro, similar but it was no John Deer. :fpalm
    #2
    Purcell69 likes this.
  3. MrBob

    MrBob Distant Supporter

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2005
    Oddometer:
    20,869
    Location:
    Flowda
    Inmate Dorkpunch is your man if you have questions about these things.
    Meanwhile:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alvin_Straight

    [​IMG]
    #3
    TwoBigCats, hpsVFR, Purcell69 and 3 others like this.
  4. Mrmerlin

    Mrmerlin Rollin a new 2019 R 1250 GS, N a 2011 K1300S

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2009
    Oddometer:
    996
    Location:
    Philly PA
    I would suggest that you buy 4 new tires and 4 new tubes,
    then you wont ever have a flat tire unless you run over a nail
    Its easier to replace all the tires at one time then to screw around when one of them goes flat BTDT
    #4
    Hay Ewe, zzzak and airheadPete like this.
  5. Beemer Bob

    Beemer Bob Long timer

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2009
    Oddometer:
    4,740
    Location:
    Beautiful Downtown WV
    I've got a 1971 John Deere 110. Hasn't run in several years.
    #5
  6. nickguzzi

    nickguzzi Long timer

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Oddometer:
    8,096
    Location:
    below the sea
    Lots of utubers do exactly this for a living. Musty1 and Taryl fixes all etc share hints tips and wrinkles.
    #6
  7. john112deere

    john112deere Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2011
    Oddometer:
    180
    Location:
    central VT
    Had a little time to play with it this morning...Put a tube in the front tire that wouldn't seat. It really needs four new tires, but at these speeds a tire failure is a nuisance not a catastrophe so for now this will do.

    Didn't do a whole lot, really- pulled the rear fenders off, cleaned and wiped it up a bit. Pulled the battery, gas tank and battery tray.

    Then I shifted gears and installed a dishwasher...can't play all day.

    Seat lost a bolt on the trailer ride up here, but this scavenged seat (off a Craftsman Grandpa found at the dump) has always been wretched- kind of like those new workplace toilets I just saw online, sloping forward so you really don't want to sit there more than a few minutes. If I don't replace the seat, I'll at least stick a block under the front to level it out.

    T112H - 1.jpg

    Notice anything odd here? This is classic Grandpa...battery grounded through the metal gas tank strap. It can't be that unsafe- I mowed with this like this for years...but I don't plan to reassemble it this way.
    T112H - 2.jpg

    Grandpa was a machinist who grew up in the depression. It's obviously not literally true, but it often seemed he could make anything from nothing. And he hated to spend money. Look closely at the hitch ball below...he had a lathe and a piece of steel- no store bought balls here!
    T112H - 5.jpg

    He also couldn't bring himself to buy John Deere green paint- regular Rustoleum was good paint for less money. See the chip below for the difference- it'll be staying dark green, with brush strokes. This tractor wouldn't look right any other way.
    T112H - 3.jpg

    Fenders off, before I started cleaning. Astute observers may also notice the PTO lever isn't factory, but rather a screwdriver handle, drilled and tapped to fit.
    T112H - 4.jpg
    #7
  8. Purcell69

    Purcell69 Mors ex Tenebris

    Joined:
    May 23, 2009
    Oddometer:
    9,133
    Location:
    Moving forward...at the speed of rust in mid-OK
    That's a very cool project! The nice thing about john Deere is the wealth of replacement parts available, both factory and aftermarket. JD paint, parts and decals are pretty easy to come by.

    When we first moved into our house here in Oklahoma, our neighbor had a shed between our place and his that he used for restoring tractors, mostly Farmalls. He had to be in his late 70's back then and he took his time doing it, but whenever a tractor rolled out of his shed, it looked like it was brand new.

    Please post up your progress.

    -Joe
    #8
  9. john112deere

    john112deere Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2011
    Oddometer:
    180
    Location:
    central VT
    Back at it today, after a few errands in town and an hour of busting up the sheet of ice over half my driveway...take advantage of the warmth while I can.

    First order of business today was fluids...the rear wheel seals used to leak, then they stopped...I'm sure they'll start again now that there's something to leak out. Adding gear oil to these is easy as pie with the fenders off- level plug on the front comes out, fill plug on the top. It's a b*tch with the fenders on.

    T112H - 2.jpg

    While I was getting set up for this, I noticed the back end felt wobbly...turns out all four screws holding the rear end assembly (which is also the rear frame) to the frame rails were loose.

    T112H - 1.jpg

    Grandpa replaced the original Tecumseh HH100 with another HH100 in the early 80s- I'm not sure where the original crankcase drain is, but this is kind of a pain. My Kohler-powered 112 is trickier to reach but doesn't make such a mess...although this could be done with the mower deck on, so that's a plus.

    T112H - 3.jpg

    T112H - 4.jpg

    I thought I grabbed the right tire chains from Dad's...but they don't seem to fit. Close though- I can make this work. Found a piece of similar size chain and made a little extension link. I need to find the proper chains but this'll do for now.

    T112H - 6.jpg

    The replacement HH100 is a magneto ignition- which is great because it adds a pull start- but the wiring never really got sorted neatly. Grandpa was good- very good- but his electrical work did have a tendency to make people nervous. In Grandpa's defense, he replaced the engine because it went underwater while parked in his garage- he probably had a few other things to do at the time. (On the other hand, he used it for close to 25 years after that, so...)

    T112H - 7.jpg

    The last several years I mowed with this tractor, after Grandpa died, it got kind of fussy- it would run, but wouldn't start without a primer splash of gas, or shot of ether after sitting a week or two. I always assumed it had to do with the fuel line routing, complicated by some extra hydraulic lines to the rear, but never bothered to monkey with it. The old fuel line was toast, and full of rusty dust...while I was trying to figure out where the new one should go, I realized there were a couple holes in the engine shroud for it to run through...after a bit of trying it became clear that the shroud would have to come off...which is not an easy thing to do with the engine in the tractor. I nearly bailed a couple times, but I did get it off, the line in, and everything reassembled without too much cussing.

    T112H - 8.jpg

    Once I buttoned it back up, I rolled it outside, dumped a couple quarts of gas in it and wrapped the pull rope around the flywheel. Several times...but after a bunch of pulls, I heard a pop. Next pull, and the damn thing started. Let it run a minute, then called it a night. Needs a few spots of paint touched up before I put the fenders back on and I don't feel like sanding and painting tonight.

    Supposed to get some snow the next few days...I may just get it back together and the blade mounted in time to use it for this storm...we'll see.
    #9
    AceRph, KeithinSC, RedRocket and 2 others like this.
  10. john112deere

    john112deere Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2011
    Oddometer:
    180
    Location:
    central VT
    Bit of a setback today...I got the plow on, the (still-tacky) fenders mounted, and the seat back on. Started easily enough in the garage, and I thought I was in business.

    But the hydraulics won't lift the plow blade. With the linkage unhooked the lift cylinder will go through it's range, but it's jerky...I ran it up and down for quite a while without much improvement, and still no lifting. I pushed some snow for fun, but without being able to lift the blade I mostly just made a mess. It does do a nice job clearing, though. Shut it off and fired up the Ariens...which made pretty quick work of a nasty mess.

    'Course, the stupid thing wouldn't start when I went to put it away, and I couldn't push it with the blade dragging...so off came the blade and I rolled it back inside.


    I'm thinking there's some air trapped in the hydraulic lines Grandpa ran to the rear for the hydraulic dumping cart- no amount of cycling the lift cylinder will move that fluid....'course, he was too cheap to buy swivel fittings for the ends of those hoses- one of the few times even he admitted that he was too thrifty for his own good.
    #10
    MrBob likes this.
  11. john112deere

    john112deere Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2011
    Oddometer:
    180
    Location:
    central VT
    More playing with it today...hydraulic fluid was lower than it looked, and once I topped that up, things seemed more responsive...but it was low for a reason, which also became quite obvious: one of the hoses had split.

    Got them out without too much fight, but I think everywhere around here that could make replacements is closed, or would be by the time I get there. Maybe tomorrow.
    #11
    High Hope likes this.
  12. High Hope

    High Hope World's Best Dog Supporter

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2005
    Oddometer:
    12,751
    Location:
    North Carolina
    Keep it coming! Your grandfather sounds like what we’d call a Swamp Yankee, with no disrespect intended. I had a place in Queeche, and the local characters were wonderful people, if not a little abrupt and taciturn. I miss VT.
    #12
  13. small_e_900

    small_e_900 Amanda carried it

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2007
    Oddometer:
    3,178
    Location:
    Map 27 Mudpuddle Maine
    #13
    High Hope likes this.
  14. john112deere

    john112deere Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2011
    Oddometer:
    180
    Location:
    central VT
    Yeah, Grandpa came from a different generation, for sure. His parents were immigrants, he served in the 10th Mtn in WWII. I was well into my teens and he was in his mid-70s before I could outwork him.


    New hoses made this morning...can't say I'm thrilled with NAPA but they got close enough. (One line is too short, the other too long...)

    'Course, I forgot to note which hose went where, and I'm missing that page from my service manual. And as everyone knows, when you've got a 50/50 shot on something like this, there's a 99% chance you'll get it wrong. I'll deal with that later...but for now, I did manage to plow a whole 1/2" of snow off the top part of the driveway. It's smoking and squealing pretty good on account of all the hydraulic oil that got spilled, but appears largely functional for the moment.

    Plenty of work to do yet, though- it's still pull-start only (not even a recoil- gotta wind it), and the lights don't work. Hoping once I get the electrical system sorted out it'll be good enough to get through the winter...I've got a walk behind snowblower, but I'd love to be able to plow the little nuisance storms...the Ariens doesn't know what to do with 2-3" of snow, but it takes me over an hour to shovel...and if i I leave it, it all packs to ice.
    #14
  15. Prior

    Prior Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2005
    Oddometer:
    508
    Location:
    Piedmont Triad, NC
    Cool project I'm on the lookout for a round fender for my son and I to restore.

    I'd excercise caution using the hydraulics with low oil- you can easily cavitate and destroy the pump. If you need help with any part info or service manual info, shoot me a PM.
    #15
    tony the tiger and john112deere like this.
  16. john112deere

    john112deere Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2011
    Oddometer:
    180
    Location:
    central VT
    Always wanted a round-fender...between this one and my other square-fender, though, I think it'll be a while before I have time, space, or desire to add another JD project...and when I do, a 318 might be a better snow-mover than a 112 for my needs here.

    Anyway, yeah, I'm taking it pretty easy on the hydraulics...and everything else. I like this old tractor, and I have a use for it, but I don't need it- I won't break it trying to get it ready to use.
    #16
    Purcell69 likes this.
  17. john112deere

    john112deere Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2011
    Oddometer:
    180
    Location:
    central VT
    Plowed the driveway tonight...not a lot, probably 2-3 inches that have fallen over the past couple days. Worked pretty well. Plenty of work to do yet (headlights would help, electric start would be nice), but it's a workhorse.

    Need to do some playing to come up with a more efficient pattern for plowing my driveway, to...trying to minimize hopping off to adjust the blade angle, and also backing up. I think I can cut my time down a fair bit with some practice.
    #17
    Purcell69 likes this.
  18. john112deere

    john112deere Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2011
    Oddometer:
    180
    Location:
    central VT
    I won't say it's done, but it appears to be stably functional...as long as I don't mind the non-recoil pull start, and no headlights. (Which really are all one job- if I'm going to do electrics, I'll do them all at once, and properly.)

    Works great for a couple inches- quick easy cleanup yesterday afternoon- which is really what I need it for. I plowed 6" the other night and probably won't do that again. It handles it fine, but the blade geometry (home-built on the snowthrower bracket) doesn't really allow much angling and it was pretty slow to do a neat job- and by the time I pulled out the snowblower to clean up after I think I spent more time for a messier result than just snowblowing everything.

    Be interesting to see how the ol' 37A snowthrower works on the John Deere...I'll probably mount it up just as an experiment but I don't really plan to use it much.
    #18
    tony the tiger and Purcell69 like this.
  19. Purcell69

    Purcell69 Mors ex Tenebris

    Joined:
    May 23, 2009
    Oddometer:
    9,133
    Location:
    Moving forward...at the speed of rust in mid-OK
    Very cool that this little tractor is still getting used for one of its intended purposes. Sure, it has limitations, as you mentioned, but it also still serves a purpose.

    -Joe
    #19
  20. jimy

    jimy Adventurer

    Joined:
    May 6, 2010
    Oddometer:
    19
    I used several 112's and a 214 for snow and mowing for about 30 years. If you get stuck, put it in 1st and pull the variator all the way back. Then get off and push - it moves very slow set up that way.
    #20