John Deere A (1939-1947)

The John Deere A, produced from 1939 to 1947 as part of the iconic Two-Cylinder Letter Series, is a true symbol of American agricultural history. This versatile row-crop tractor, born in Waterloo, Iowa, USA, represents a transition period in farming technology with its “styled” design. With various engine options and transmission upgrades, including the introduction of a six-speed version in 1941, it catered to the evolving needs of farmers. The John Deere A’s legacy lies not only in its mechanical prowess but also in its role as a witness to the transformation of American agriculture during the mid-20th century, making it a sought-after collectible with historical significance.

John Deere A Specs
Model Year1939-1947
SeriesTwo-Cylinder Letter Series
TypeRow-Crop tractor
Production
ManufacturerJohn Deere
Built inWaterloo, Iowa, USA
Total Built300,000
Style ChangeIn 1939, the “styled” look was introduced.
Variants
ARA-Regular with standard front axle
AOOrchard
AWAdjustable wide-front
ANSingle front wheel
AWHHigh-crop, adjustable wide-front
ANHHigh-crop, single-front wheel
Engine Options
John Deere 5.1L2-cylinder all fuel
John Deere 5.3L2-cylinder all fuel
John Deere 5.3L2-cylinder gasoline
Engine Details (5.1L all fuel)
Cylinders2-cylinder, 4-valve
CoolingLiquid-cooled horizontal
Displacement309 cubic inches (5.1 liters)
Bore/Stroke5.50×6.50 inches (140 x 165 mm)
Air CleanerOil bath
Compression Ratio4.45:1
Rated RPM975
Firing Order1-2
Starter TypeManual
Oil Capacity9.25 quarts (8.8 liters)
Coolant Capacity38 quarts (36.0 liters)
Sparkplug Gap0.030 inches (0.762 mm)
Point Gap0.021 inches (0.533 mm)
Intake Valve Clearance0.020 inches (0.508 mm)
Exhaust Valve Clearance0.020 inches (0.508 mm)
Engine Details (5.3L all fuel)
Cylinders2-cylinder
CoolingLiquid-cooled
Displacement321 cubic inches (5.3 liters)
Bore/Stroke5.50×6.75 inches (140 x 171 mm)
Compression Ratio4.45:1
Rated RPM975
Firing Order1-2
StarterManual, Electric Optional (6 volts)
Oil Capacity11 quarts (10.4 liters)
Sparkplug Gap0.030 inches (0.762 mm)
Point Gap0.021 inches (0.533 mm)
Intake Valve Clearance0.020 inches (0.508 mm)
Exhaust Valve Clearance0.020 inches (0.508 mm)
Engine Details (5.3L gasoline)
Cylinders2-cylinder
CoolingLiquid-cooled
Displacement321 cubic inches (5.3 liters)
Bore/Stroke5.50×6.75 inches (140 x 171 mm)
Compression Ratio5.60:1
Rated RPM975
Firing Order1-2
StarterManual, Electric Optional (6 volts)
Oil Capacity11 quarts (10.4 liters)
Sparkplug Gap0.030 inches (0.762 mm)
Point Gap0.021 inches (0.533 mm)
Intake Valve Clearance0.020 inches (0.508 mm)
Exhaust Valve Clearance0.020 inches (0.508 mm)
Transmission Options
4-speedunsynchronized gear (1939-1941)
6-speed(1941-1947)
Transmission (4-speed)
Gears4 forward and 1 reverse
ClutchMechanical dry disc
Transmission (6-speed)
Gears6 forward and 1 reverse
ClutchMechanical dry disc
Power
Drawbar (claimed, early)18 hp
Drawbar (claimed, late)34 hp
Belt (claimed, early)24 hp
Belt (claimed, late)38 hp
Plows2 (14-inch)
Drawbar (tested)26.20 hp
Belt (tested)29.59 hp
Mechanical
DriveTwo-wheel drive
SteeringManual steering
BrakesDifferential mechanical expanding shoe brakes
StationOpen operator station with steel pan seat.
Power Take-off (PTO)
Rear PTOTransmission
Rear RPM540
Serial Numbers
1939477000
1940488000 (Engine displacement increased to 321 ci)
1941499000 (Transmission changed to six speeds)
1942-1947Serial numbers continued
Electrical
GroundPositive
Battery Volts6
Tires
Ag Front24×4 steel
Ag Rear50×6 steel
Ag Front (Alternative)5.50×16
Ag Rear (Alternative)9/10/11.00×38
Dimensions
Length134 inches (340 cm)
Width83 inches (210 cm)
Width (with wide front)86.325 inches (219 cm)
Height60 inches (152 cm)
Height (with high-crop front)63.875 inches (162 cm)
Weight
Shipping3817 lbs (A), 4055 lbs (AW)
Operating4650 lbs
Ballasted6260 lbs
John Deere A Overview

The John Deere A, a distinguished member of the Two-Cylinder Letter Series, is a treasure trove of historical significance in the realm of tractors, making it an invaluable collector’s item. Produced during the years 1939-1947, this iconic machine is a living testament to a pivotal era in American agriculture. Hailing from the heart of farming country in Waterloo, Iowa, the John Deere A embodies the quintessential spirit of rural America, where hard work and innovation were the backbone of farming life.

What makes the John Deere A truly exceptional is its transition into the “styled” look in 1939, marking an aesthetic shift in tractor design. It was during this period that the tractor underwent substantial changes, reflecting the evolving needs and preferences of farmers. Additionally, the engine underwent a significant upgrade in 1940, with the displacement increased to 321 cubic inches, providing more power and efficiency for various agricultural tasks.

One of the defining features of the John Deere A is its adaptability. With a range of variants available, including the orchard version (AO), adjustable wide-front model (AW), and high-crop variations (AWH and ANH), this tractor was engineered to cater to a multitude of farming requirements. Its versatility and reliability quickly made it a staple on farms across the country.

The John Deere A’s historical significance extends beyond its appearance and functionality. It bore witness to the transformation of American agriculture during the mid-20th century, as farms transitioned from horse-drawn equipment to mechanized farming practices. As the heartbeat of rural life, this tractor played a pivotal role in the mechanization process, boosting efficiency and productivity in farming operations.

For tractor enthusiasts and collectors, the John Deere A is an irreplaceable relic of a bygone era. It represents not just a piece of machinery but a tangible connection to the toil and triumphs of generations of American farmers. Owning one of these tractors is like holding a piece of living history, preserving the heritage of agriculture in the United States and honoring the enduring legacy of John Deere’s commitment to innovation and quality. As a collector’s item with profound historical value, the John Deere A occupies a revered place in the world of agricultural memorabilia, symbolizing the enduring spirit of American farming and craftsmanship.

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