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Tractor Trendsetters: John Deere 5010

Feb 15, 2012

Tractor Trendsetters: John Deere 5010

Written By Larry Gay

By the early 1930s, almost all the major tractor manufacturers had a model of tractor that was capable of cultivating row crops. These “row-crop” tractors featured one front wheel or two closely-spaced front wheels which traveled between two rows. The rear wheels were spaced wide enough to straddle two rows, with enough clearance under the rear axle to pass over the growing crop. Many of these early row-crop tractors had an adjustable rear wheel tread which enabled the tractor to have a narrow wheel tread to reduce side draft while plowing and a wide setting for cultivating.

The popular tractors during the early 1920s had the two front wheels spaced in line with the rear wheels and the wheel tread was usually non-adjustable. With straight axles and smaller rear wheels, these tractors provided adequate clearance for general work, but not for row crops. Most of the tractor companies continued to manufacture this type of tractor after the row-crop models became popular, often in the same horsepower size as the row-crop tractors. To differentiate the two types, this version came to be known as a “standard-tread” or “standard” tractor.

Most of the tractor manufacturers also built one model of tractor which was available only as a standard-tread tractor and was larger than their other models. These tractors, sometimes referred to as wheatland tractors, were designed primarily for the small grain growing areas of the U.S. and Canada. They featured wide rear fenders and panels around the front of the operator’s platform to reduce the amount of dust near the operator. As the horsepower increased for the other models, so did the power of the largest standard-tread tractors.

In 1962, John Deere introduced its 5010 model as the first 2-wheel-drive tractor to produce over 100 drawbar horsepower. This giant tractor weighed 16,600 pounds and was powered by a 6-cylinder, 531-cubic-inch John Deere diesel engine. To apply this power, it was equipped with a new size of rear tire, a 24.5-32. This enabled the 5010 to pull 32 feet of disk tiller, 40 feet of grain drills, or a 7-bottom, 16-inch plow. PTO power was measured at 121 horsepower during its Nebraska test. Operator convenience features included power steering, power brakes, and the John Deere posture seat. An independent 1,000-rpm PTO, a Quick-Coupler 3-point hitch for Category 2 or 3 implements, and dual rear wheels were optional.

Larry Gay is the author of four tractor books and the “Machinery Milestones” articles in Heritage Iron magazine. To learn more about this magazine which focuses on the 1960-1985 era, go to heritageiron.com or call 1-866-552-6085. 

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