Russ' Vintage Iron

Readers Share Stories About Vintage Plows

Russ Quinn
By  Russ Quinn , DTN Staff Reporter
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Last month's Vintage Iron column prompted several readers to reminisce about the plowing. (DTN photo by Russ Quinn)

Last month I wrote about people speculating on social media that John Deere was going to end production of the moldboard plow. As it turns out, the company was ending production of one such plow, but was still planning on manufacturing another plow.

I asked at the end of the column if any readers had stories about plows. Obviously, this request struck a nerve, as I had several people send me their memories of plowing.

Here are three of them.


I spent many hours on our John Deere 4000 tractor pulling a 318 rollover plow. Eventually, we ended up getting a 2600 semi-integral plow, which was not John Deere's best design of a plow. But we did use it for a number of years until we started to no-till and chisel.

We were a John Deere dealer from 1935 to 1995, located in Edinboro, Pennsylvania, just south of Erie.

The 4000 still gets a lot of work done. It was the last Generation Two tractor on our lot manufactured in 1971 or '72. It was a stripped-down version of the 4020.

And the difference between the 4000 and the 4020 was mostly sheet metal and one remote outlet instead of dual remote outlets.

We are just a small farm with 130 acres of corn and the 4000 still works every year.

Buzz Walker

Edinboro, Pennsylvania


I so enjoyed your article on the plow! You brought back many great memories. You also make me feel old as I am more of your grandfather's generation!

I am 73 and still actively farming, although I can see the end coming to where I will be turning it over to my son, but I hope he will let me continue to help. My Dad always said it was harder to quit than to get started, and now I'm beginning to realize why he said this.

Plowing was the slowest job as far as soil preparation, but my most favorite job by a mile. I so loved watching the soil turn, and there is nothing like the smell of fresh dirt.

I have many memories of plowing. Early on, in the early 1960s, (yes, I grew up on a tractor) I remember coming home from school, getting on the ole JD A, and hooking up to the sled as we didn't have a trailer.

The A would only hold enough gas to plow for a bit over two hours, so I filled a bunch of five-gallon gas cans, put them on the sled and headed to the field, which was a mile from the house. I was plowing some tough gumbo soil with a three-bottom plow in low or second gear.

I plowed all night and quit the next morning in time to get to school. Boy, I was living the dream! Not mentioning pouring gas into a hot tractor every couple hours and being "light enough" that the five-gallon gas cans were all I could handle!

Also, the starters never worked on our tractor, so it required opening the petcocks and hand cranking! That ensured you attempted to not kill the tractor in a tough spot!

If I plowed 5 acres overnight, I had a great night! And imagine not even having a cell phone in my pocket! Heaven forbid!!

Speaking of the rope tied to your grandpa's tractor seat reminds me, too, of our older two-bottom plow. Still plowing with the JD Model A, we had cleared over 100 acres of timber bottom ground, so of course there were many hidden stumps.

The old two-bottom plow had a big spring in the hitch connecting to the tractor to where when you hooked a stump it expanded to absorb the initial shock but would bring you to a sudden stop! If you were lucky, you would get the clutch pulled (JD hand clutch) before it killed the tractor. Being an early teenager, that usually meant having your chest thrust into the steering wheel simultaneously!

Years later we advanced to my Dad and I each having 4020s with five-bottom plows, which I still own. Actually, I later traded up to an F1450 plows. Also, my first tractor was this 4020.

I purchased it on Dec. 15, 1967, and it's still going and will always be a part of this farm. My son says it will never leave this farm! We have a photo of it with myself, my son, and his son on its 50th anniversary with us.

As time passed, I got married to a farm girl, later buying a 4630 and six-bottom plow, and she ran it. So, we plowed with two 4020s and a 4630. Talk about turning the soil, we thought we had the cat's meow!

Later, along came our son and he spent many an hour riding in the cab with his mom. Now it's becoming his turn to run the show.

Our plows are still sitting in the fence row as monuments of yesterday but have yielded to more modern farming practices. Thank you for your Vintage Iron articles! I enjoy reading and chuckle about reminiscing about the past equipment and what made American agriculture great.

I hope I didn't make this e-mail too long. So many great memories!!!

Ronald McNeall

Keytesville, Missouri


Thought I would share some info on plows which I have used over the years. When we started farming in 1972, you tried hard to get every acre turned black.

I have used a variety of plows over the years. Note that this crop year is No. 50 for us. I will say also that my wonderful wife and partner has done a fair share of the fall tillage work.

This is a list of the plows we have had over the years: Oliver 5/16, John Deere 2500 4/18, International 720 5/18, JD2800 5/18 JD 2810 5/variable width and for a short time we had a JD 3/16 fully mounted.

We have the JD 2500 and the JD 2810 5/v which are used today. We also have a Hininker 7500 9 shank disc chisel. The chisel is used on bean ground and the more hilly corn ground.

We have farmers in our area that grow continuous corn that plow most of their corn ground. It really helps to get the ground to warm up here in southern Minnesota.

Today, the in-law families were here, and being that we can go to the two-cylinder show, we had our own show. I put all six of the tractors out for show.

Here's a list: 2003-7810 MFWD the main workhorse, 1978 4240 planter/secondary tillage, 1969 4020 side console/fall on a 10-inch auger/spring rock picker and misc, 1959 530 8-inch auger and misc., 1957 620 8-inch auger and misc. and a 1950 B -- hooked to the livestock chute we move into place every eight weeks to empty or fill our nursery barn.

They each have their job and have been good tractors. As you can see, our blood runs green. I always look forward to your columns. Farm on!

Howard Schoenfeld

Faribault, Minnesota


Thanks to everyone who wrote. I welcome you to share more of your vintage iron memories. To see the original Russ' Vintage Iron column that ran June 22, go to….

Russ Quinn can be reached at

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