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Restoring a John Deere 4020

Agriculture.com Staff 03/19/2009 @ 10:30am

The best part about what I do for a living?

Easy. That would be all the great folks I get the opportunity to talk with. Guys like Walter Martens of Momence, Illinois. Walter retired from farming back in 2005 but called me recently to talk about his totally restored 1969 JD 4020 tractor. When he had his retirement auction in 2005, Walter decided to hang on to his trusty 4020.

This tractor has quite a story, as does Walter. First the 4020.

Walter was the second owner, having bought it from the original owner back in the early 1970s. It had under 200 hours on it when Martens bought it, as the original owner got sick shortly after buying it.

Completely overhauled at 8,378 hours and now with over 11,000 total hours on it, but still in very good condition, Martens decided he'd like to have it professionally restored, making it as close to like new condition as possible. He knew just the man to turn to for help.

His son, Wesley Martens.

The younger Martens had been doing repair work in the implement business for over 20 years. Since 1989 he's been employed by Hogan Walker in Manteno, Illinois. The opportunity to work on a tractor he had a long history with was a unique opportunity.

"I put a lot of hours on that tractor," says Wesley. "It was a really straight tractor. It was old but had never sat out in the weather."

So Wesley and fellow restorer and buddy Mark Herlitz dove in and began to take the tractor apart in February 2008. They did the work in Herliz's heated shop. Click on the slideshow link below to see what the 4020 looked like during this process.

Two months, a couple hundred hours and $1,953 in parts later (See parts ticket and $$ breakdown in slideshow), the restoration was complete. Looking like new? I'd say so. "We just went through it," says Wesley. "Dad wanted it right."

Mission accomplished.

Now the scoop on the elder Martens. His 4020 served him faithfully for over 25 years in his custom corn shelling operation. He also farmed, but the corn shelling operation went back two generations in the Martens family.

"I sent you a couple pictures (included in slideshow below) of my last corn shelling job in June 1997," says Walter. "That ended 50 years for me and 111 years of continuous shelling in the Marten family. My grandfather started the business in 1886 at the age of sixteen with two horses on a sweep to provide the power, tumbling rod to top of feed house on a small sheller. Then on to steam, then steel wheeled Twin City tractor built by Minneapolis Moline. Then to a 1939 MM U on rubber tires."

Now Walter would like to sell his restored, like new 4020.

So, what's it worth?

Right up my alley. Click on the link below, I've provided all the JD 4020 tractors I've seen sold at auction going back nine years. I highlighted the ones sold for $15,000 or more.

Go through the list and pay attention to these nicest 4020s. See in the 'Specs' column how some say they were restored. Also check the 'Hours' column. Obviously original low hour 4020s are attractive to a lot of buyers.

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