Written By Larry Gay
Fifty years ago, John Deere entered a new era of tractor design when the company introduced four new models of tractors with 4- and 6-cylinder engines to replace the 2-cylinder design it had used since 1918. The new tractors were introduced to 6,000 dealers and guests at Deere Day in Dallas on August 30, 1960. It was the first introduction meeting in the farm equipment industry with all the company’s dealers present at the same time.
The largest of the four new models was the John Deere 4010 row-crop tractor with a new 6-cylinder, variable-speed John Deere engine rated at 80 PTO horsepower, at a time when most of the large row-crop tractors were in the 59-65 PTO horsepower range. The tractor companies often increase the power by 15 or 20 percent when they introduce a new series of tractors, but the 4010 represented a jump of 35 percent over the previous largest John Deere row-crop tractor, the 730 at 59 PTO horsepower. As was typical for this era, the 4010 offered a choice of gasoline, LP-gas, or diesel engines and a choice of single front wheel, dual front wheels, or a wide adjustable front axle. The 4010 was also available in standard-tread and hi-crop versions.
The John Deere 4010 featured a high power-to-weight ratio for faster field speeds, an 8-speed Syncro-Range transmission with constant mesh gears, planetary final drives, a closed center hydraulic system at 2,000 psi, hydraulic power brakes, hydrostatic power steering, and an interchangeable 540- and 1,000-rpm independent PTO. The new styling included a tapered hood for good visibility and the fuel tank located ahead of the radiator.
The design of the 4010 tractor emphasized operator comfort and convenience with an uncluttered platform, all the controls on or beside the dash, and mounting steps and handholds on both sides of the tractor. The ergonomic-designed seat was adjustable along an inclined track for varying heights of operators.
The John Deere 4010 was tested at the Nebraska Tractor Test Lab soon after it was introduced. The 302-cubic-inch LP-gas and gasoline engines developed 80.6 and 80.9 PTO horsepower, respectively. The 380-cubic-inch diesel engine exceeded its rating with 84.0 PTO horsepower.
Larry Gay is the author of four farm 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 1-800-552-6085.