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FARM CLASSICS: John Deere 4020 an American classic

February 22nd, 2024 8:00 PM

By Southern Star Team

John Deere manufactured more than 200,000 4020s between 1963 and 1972.

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IF you were asked to think of a ‘classic’ John Deere tractors, what would spring to mind? The obvious choice for some would be the highly acclaimed 7810.

Perhaps the 3650, or its smaller 2850 sibling. Looking further back, the 3130 pops up as a strong contender. However, by 1969, John Deere had made up its own mind, designating the 4020 as both its current and future classic. Presumably a lesser known tractor in Ireland, the John Deere 4020 was a true king of the field.

Replacing the established 4010 in 1963, the 4020 was manufactured at the Waterloo factory, Iowa. The 4020 found itself nestled between the smaller 3020 and larger 4520 and 5020 tractors, all of which were highly specified. The 4020 was available in petrol and LP-Gas, however it is the 100hp 6.6l straight six diesel engine which concerns us.

Large displacement and a relatively long stroke provided plenty of grunt for the 4020. Putting this power to the ground was an all-new power shift transmission providing 8F/4R gears in a clutchless operation.

A dash mounted lever moved through a gate in a J shape with 1-8 on the long line of the J, park at the bottom curve and 1-4R up the short ‘tail’ of the J. The tried and tested SynchroMesh transmission was also available.

The 4020 boasted a whole range of features making it a truly advanced tractor including lower linkage sensing, 540 and 1000 speed PTO, up to three spool valves, oil-immersed power disc brakes, hydrostatic power steering, a flat deck, an adjustable rear bar axle, luxury driver seat and closed centre hydraulics.

Central to the success of the 4020 was the continued momentum of design by the John Deere engineering team, improving the cylinder head after the first year of production.

Other additions included a foot or hand-operated differential lock and optional hydraulic 4WD front axle, as well as other minor engine upgrades.

In 1969, the line-up received a revamp, branded as the ‘New Generation’, the main upgrade was the relocation of the linkage and spool valve controls to a console to the right of the operator’s seat, with JD themselves labelling the 4020 as a classic. The 4020 also saw the introduction of John Deere’s first factory fitted safety cab – Roll-Gard Cab.

Available from 1966, the boxy cab had an expanse of glass all round, complete with lay back doors and four forward facing work lights, optional air conditioning and radio, and has a yellow roof skin.

Interestingly, the cab is built upon the Roll Gard platform with the main roll bar, which is fixed to the axle half housings, retained. With over 200,000 4020s manufactured, the very last 4020 off the production line resides in the John Deere Pavilion Museum in Moline, Illinois,

• Contact Peter at [email protected] or see Instagram@flashphotoscork

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