A family puts the putt-putt back into a neighbor’s beloved B.
Our neighbors Errol and Lorayne Vanseggern bought this 1952 John Deere B brand-new from Larsen Implement nearby. Lorraine fell in love with it, but because it didn’t have enough horsepower, they had M&W pistons installed so it could make it up all the hills around here. When the Vanseggerns retired from farming, they sold everything but the John Deere B.
When I was 10, my family learned that the Vanseggerns wanted to sell the tractor—but they didn’t want it to go to just anyone. My father and I went to take a look. We bought the tractor, cleaned the carburetor up, put gas and a new battery in it, and lo and behold she fired right up.
As we left their yard, I remember Lorayne saying—and you could see the emotion in her eyes—“It’s going to a good home.”
Back home, my dad told me the tractor was my birthday present, and when I was old enough it would be mine. Being a farm kid, I thought that was the coolest gift I could get.
We used it around the farm until 2016, when I decided to bring new life to it. This was the first time I’d restored a tractor, so I knew it would be a challenge. But when it came to the B, we wanted to do our best. I did online research and talked to a lot of people. The motor was still running and had never been touched, so we left it alone. But I took the rest of the tractor apart piece by piece.
My son Monte, who was 5 at the time, wanted to help. He used a wire brush and a screwdriver to remove years of grease and dirt. He was so proud to help pressure-wash it so we could sandblast the hoods and fenders and fix the dents. We sanded and painted until we were happy, then we put it back together
with new gauges and wiring and a rebuilt magneto generator.
With the tractor put together, a family member found someone to replicate the old Larsen Implement and M&W decals so that we could preserve the tractor’s local history. With help from a neighbor, we tuned up the rebuilt carburetor and dealt with some timing issues.
After six months of hard work, the Mighty B made that great twocylinder putt-putt sound. These days we take the tractor to parades and shows, and Monte loves turning the wheel and using the hand clutch.
This John Deere is something my dad gave me, and I’m proud that we restored it as a family. When Monte is old enough, it will be his. And when he drives it and the neighbors hear its putt-putt, the Vanseggerns can look down and know Lorayne’s tractor has a good home, and that it’s cherished by our family.
Dan and Monte Rentmeester with the restored tractor; at right, Dan and his father, Glenn Rentmeester, took the B apart piece by piece. BEFORE