As you know I have a soft spot for old iron. Well, I recently came across a John Deere 999 planter on Craigslist just north of where I live. The gentleman selling it is a collector and had a few others in his barn. So we spent some time taking in a very nice collection of antique farm machinery, chatting about where he found various pieces, then I bought myself a planter.
The John Deere 999 brings back fond memories of my Grandpa, Frank Brown, of Delphi, Indiana. He was born in the Delphi area in 1904 and when I was growing up Grandpa Brown told me that the John Deere 999 planter in the corner of the workshop was the first new piece of equipment he had purchased. I remember that old planter well, because as a child, I used to like to climb up on the seat and move the lever back and forth and pretend I was planting, even though I really did not have a clue how that really worked at the time. I wish I remember the year he bought his, the 999 model of planter was built from 1913 through 1934.
Since the original planter is not available to me for restoration, I decided to watch for one with most of the pieces and made a pretty good find. I am going to try this one on a sweet corn patch next spring and then tear it all the way down and make some repairs and restore it to as near to new condition as I can. It had been well used at one time, but I am very happy with the condition, the former owner did a good job sometime ago and kept it inside, which is half the battle. At first look, the wheels could use some slight repair, I figure all the bolts should come out and the metal be treated so I have no future rust problems. Also, the springs and chains need to replaced, the checkwire unrolled and inspected. I have to admit the seed and fertilizer boxes are in very fine shape and it came with 4 sets of plates, corn and soybean. It is missing one lid and one marker has been repaired with an unoriginal piece. But this means we all get to learn more about planters next year…and I am excited.
So, I now I have a project to complete in the memory of my Grandpa Brown. a fine farmer, know for his outstanding livestock and horse skills. the patience to teach me when I was growing up in North Central Indiana in the late 60’s and 70’s, When farming was much different, not near as automated, and lacked the creature comforts of today. So starting next spring, we are going to restore a planter! See you then with videos and pictures, as well as lessons learned from the project.
Below is a John Deere 999 planter still working in the field to enjoy until we start our project…