Tractor Trendsetters: John Deere Generation II
Written by Larry Gay
Cabs for farm tractors began to grow in popularity during the 1960s. These early cabs were built by supply companies and protected the operator from the rain and sun, but often increased the amount of dust and noise. Next the tractor manufacturers began buying cabs from the supply companies and installing them at the factory. Pressurizing the cab helped keep out the dust and eventually heaters and air conditioning were made available as optional equipment. However, these early cabs offered no protection to the operator in case of a tractor rollover.
For 1967, John Deere introduced the Roll-Gard, a 2-post ROPS, with a seat belt to protect the operator in case of a tractor rollover. This was followed by the Roll-Gard Cab for the 2520, 3020 and 4020 models which consisted of the Roll-Gard and a cab that was big enough to fit around the Roll-Gard.
Forty years ago, on Saturday August 19, 1972, the John Deere dealers introduced four models of Generation II tractors to their farmer customers. The new 4030 with 80 PTO horsepower, the 4230 with 100, the 4430 with 125, and the 4630 with 150 PTO horsepower replaced the 3020, 4020, 4320, and 4620 models. The 4030 was powered by a 6-cylinder, 329-cubic-inch John Deere diesel engine and the other three models were equipped with 6-cylinder, 404-cubic-inch John Deere diesel engines. The 4230 was naturally aspirated, the 4430 was turbocharged, and the 4630 was turbocharged and intercooled. Six-cylinder John Deere gasoline engines were also available for the 4030 and 4230. A new 16-speed Quad-Range partial powershift transmission with four speeds in four ranges was an option for the 4030, 4230, and 4430 tractors.
The big news for the Generation II tractors was the Sound-Gard Body which featured a curved windshield, a built-in 4-post ROPS, and four isolation mounts. Deere described the Sound-Gard Body with its controls and steering column as a module designed as an integral part of the tractor. The company emphasized it was not a “cab” which it described as an add-on device which was dropped over the operator’s station. The sound reduction inside the Sound-Gard Body was significant. At the Nebraska tractor tests in October and November, the sound level at the operator’s ear at maximum load for the 150 horsepower 4630 was 82.5 dB(A) compared to 91.5 dB(A) for a competitor’s 145 horsepower tractor and its cab. A reduction of 10 on the dB(A) scale is equivalent to reducing the noise level by one-half.
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 1-855-old-iron.