John Deere 1927

Just Like Our Old 1927 Model D

When growing up, our family had a small hobby farm north of Perth, Western Australia.
We also had some good friends who lived in the WA  wheatbelt area, near Mukinbudin.

My Father talked about getting some sort of tractor for our farm, and our friendly farmer "TW" from Mukinbudin mentioned he had an old one parked out on his property, and that we could have it free if we paid the transport.

So, one long weekend we headed to "Muka" to see if the old tractor would work. It had been sitting out in the weather for decades, covered by some sheets of corrugated iron and old wheat bags.

Once uncovered, it looked pretty far gone. We checked the oil, added some fuel, cleaned the two sparkplugs, and "TW" cranked engine over a few times to see that it was getting some lube into the pistons.

Now for the real test, we primed it with a little petrol, and "TW" swung on the huge flywheel a few times, and it actually started up and ran. It belched a lot of smoke initially, but settled down after a few minutes.

Dad had the tractor trucked to our small farm and we built a shed for it.

It used power kerosene as its main fuel, but we would start it on petrol, and once warmed up, we would switch it over to use the kero.  On a cold winters morning it would blow some great smoke rings from the exhaust.

My Brother (Colin) and I spent many hours driving it, pulling out tree stumps, and dragging a plough. Ah, the memories

Below is a YouTube video of a restored tractor the same as ours. Ours was way more rusted, and had no mudguards over the rear wheels.

1927 John Deere


We used the tractor for many years but it ended up superceded by a nice diesel David Brown. The DB had rubber tyres ( Yeah! ) and had more gears and went faster. Also, it had electric start.

The old John Deere was eventually retired and I last saw it in a kindergarten in a Perth suburb. All the dangerous bits had been removed, and it had been cleaned up and painted.  The kids loved climbing all over it, and spinning the steering wheel.



Lucky To Be Alive

Considering some of the things I did when a teenager, I now consider myself lucky to be alive.

Back in the 1960s, I had a friend at school named Phil R. and he lived in Ruislip Street, West Leederville, Western Australia. I have completely lost touch with him since those school days. But we had a mutual interest in Rocketry and Explosives and Chemistry and Physics and the like.
From memory, he was about six months older than me. But I digress....

So when chatting in the school playgrounds, I casually mentioned making of some good gunpowder. We got talking and I told him I could get plenty of Potassium Nitrate and Ammonium Nitrate.
Phil had been interested in small model aircraft, such as those powered by small diesel or ethanol fueled moel plane engines. I had a small one powered by a .5 Cubic Inch Cox Glo-plug engine. He had some with bigger diesel engines.

Anyway, we got talking about rockets. So we started planning a small rocket project.
We built a small copper pipe based rocket, using 3/4" cu tube, and soldered some small vanes around the base. The rocket had a pointed nose which we created by hacksawing some notches into the top end of the pipe, and folding in the copper tube to make a rough point.

Now for the fuel. We needed solid fuel for our design. We knew the rough ratios of the fuel components, secret stuff, sugar and sulphur, and met at Phil's home after school one day. Both Phil's parents would be at work, so we had the house to ourselves.
Step 1: (  note: do not ever try this, it is extremely dangerous)  Light the gas stove, and put our mix of fuel into an aluminium saucepan from his Mum's cabinet, and heat it to melting point whilst stiring.
Yes, we actually did this, being thirteen or fourteen years old at the time. We succeeded in getting our nice liquified mix of the three ingredients without burning down the house. Next we poured the hot molten fuel into our rocket casing. All good thus far.

We waited for the fuel to solidify in the rocket, and took it to the laneway at the back of the property. There we had some bricks set up as our launch pad.
With the rocket in place on the bricks, our next task was to light it. We decided that a match was too short to use for safety, so taped a few to a short bamboo stem.
We lit the matches, and applied it to the base of the rocket.

Well, that was the last we ever saw of our rocket. With a resounding whoosh... it was gone, and we watched as it soared out of sight. The rate at which it left the launch pad left us frightened. We never did try and build another.