The New Generation of Power is alive and well at the John Deere Pavilion in Moline, Illinois, with the new exhibit of a freshly-restored, experimental 3020 Tractor. Details on the tractor are scarce, but what is known is that the tractor was never sold, and has never left John Deere since it was built in the mid-1960s.
After many years of service in the experimental departments at John Deere Tractor Works in Waterloo, Iowa, followed by additional years in storage, a recent restoration breathed new life into this iconic tractor.
The tractor was part of John Deere’s New Generation of Power, a product of the company’s milestone decision to move from the two-cylinder tractor to four- and six-cylinder models. It all began in 1953 when Deere initiated an ambitious redesign of their full product line. At the time, the company held steadfast to the two-cylinder engine design, as it had since 1918.
“After a full and general discussion, it was unanimously agreed that the two-cylinder engine…is the right proposition for tractor use and the right proposition for this company as manufacturers,” stated a resolution recorded in the board minutes.
Despite the trend to four-cylinder engines in the early 1920s, company leadership was determined to change course only if “field service in the hands of the farmer has actually demonstrated beyond a doubt the superiority of some other type.”
But by the 1950s, the power of the two-cylinder engine had been maxed out, and the time had come for an update. Customers needed more horsepower.
On August 30, 1960, John Deere introduced the New Generation of Power at Deere Day in Dallas, Texas. The newly designed lineup featured four- and six-cylinder tractors, marking the end of the two-cylinders that had dominated the lineup for decades.
The New Generation created new industry standards in power, production, and safety, and was the result of a long-standing commitment to experimental work dating back to founder John Deere, who famously said “They (customers) haven’t got to take what we make, or somebody else will beat us, and we will lose our trade.”
The first updates to the New Generation, the 20 Series tractors, were introduced in 1964. The 3020 tractor, and the larger 4020 tractor, featured Power Shift transmission, allowing the operator to use a single lever to shift between eight forward, or four reverse speeds without clutching. The tried and tested synchro-range transmission was also available as an optional alternative.
The 3020 and 4020 also introduced a hydraulic power differential lock that directed power equally to both drive wheels for improved traction in mud or other difficult operating conditions. The 3020 was available as a row crop, row crop utility, standard, or hi-crop tractor.
Even after the 3020’s debut, experimental work continued. The current exhibit at the John Deere Pavilion explores Deere’s efforts in the mid-1960’s and what became known as the “Late Style” 20-Series.
Features of the experimental tractor include a prototype side console, and relocated rear selective control valves for greater serviceability and less routing of hydraulic lines. The 3020 on exhibit also features a liquid propane, or LP, fuel system, an alternative fuel source previously available in other models. Another significant feature is the Rollover Protective Structure, or ROPS, introduced by the company along with seat belts, in 1966 to protect operators from rollover accidents.
The 3020 will be on exhibit at the John Deere Pavilion through 2019.