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Indiana Family with Quadruplets and their Special Tractor

July 04, 2016

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Special tractors. Special families.

I’ve had the privilege of getting to know lots of both over my nearly 27 years tracking the used farm equipment market and auctions around North America. A very special story to share with you this 4th of July 2016…the story of the Zook family from Flora, IN. I met Sam Zook at a farm auction in central Indiana back in January. The Zook family’s special tractor is a 1925 John Deere D spoker bought at auction back in 1984 (pictured above). Sam and wife Jane have 5 kids, including quadruplets who went on to achieve FFA fame. Here’s the Zook’s story in Sam’s words:

"Our 1925 John Deere D is a treasured member of our family known to us as “The D”, said Zook. "On August 18, 1984 my farming partner, Russell Wagoner, and I went to a Dennis Polk antique auction. Back then the auction was on the Polk Farm on Harper Rd. East of Leesburg, IN. I remember the August day very well, like it was not long ago. There were many treasurers. We bought the Spoker D, not running but 90% restored. We paid $3,250 for it. In 1984 it seemed like we paid a lot of money for the tractor."

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"It needed to be pulled on to our trailer to move it to our shop seventy miles south in Carroll Co. In.   We brought it home and shortly had it running. The main problem was someone had the magneto off at some point, and when reinstalled, it was not timed correctly. There were a few other minor issues but the D ran a few hours after starting to work on it.  It has always run very smooth and fired very even for such an old 2 cylinder. We next lined the steel wheels with rubber tires in order to load the tractor safely on to trailers and to parade the D. We also later purchased the correct rear wheels and lugs since it was restored with newer rear wheels. It was so much work to line the wheels and since they are less damaging and safer I have not changed them out."

Sam remembers one other thing about the work involved getting their 1925 John Deere D spoker running:

"I remember to this day hitting Russell on the head with a big hammer while lining the wheels with rubber tires," said Zook. "We both agreed all the work and injury should be worth running the rubber lined wheels for a good period of time.  Since Russell has passed, I cannot look at the D and not think about hitting my partner and great friend on the head with that big hammer. I’m telling you...it was scary for a while! Like a tough farmer, he popped up and got back on the job. We joked about it for a long time."

"The John Deere D is a member of our family."

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"Jane and I have five children. Jordon 35 and the quads, John, Primmer, Malena and Lucia “Lucy” all 25, born within 4 minutes. When the 5 were all at home, we were very busy on the farm with crops and a swine operation until 1999 then corn and seed soybeans to this date. There was little time for vacation so we would occasionally take in an antique tractor and machinery show and parade and display the D with the kids."

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"Those were nice family times before the kids were so involved in FFA and 4-H. Then interests shifted to sports and modern family activities. Since then, Jane and I occasionally go to a tractor show as often as we can and may take the D along if the weather looks good. We try to display at our County Fair with the local Tractor & Machinery Club if possible. Seems like so much more work now that I’m 60 than when in my 30's."

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"I’ve always stored the D warm inside along with my other collectibles… vintage seed corn sacks, 1 ½ hp,   3 hp and 6 hp John Deere Stationary Model E engines, a 1937 Farmall F-12 on steel, a 1964 JD 110 3 lug lawn tractor and several colors of old peddle tractors to name a few of our items."

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The Zook quadruplets were very involved with FFA and made history in 2011 and were featured in FFA's national magazine with a feature story, here's a link to read more: http://www.ffanewhorizons.org/magazine/ffa-new-horizons-april-2011/

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"Here is the production record from the official Two Cylinder Club. We have joked…since we have the production record, we now know the D was born March 25, 1925…another birthday to celebrate.  I hope I can make it to March 25, 2025. I’ll be 70 when the D is 100."
 
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"My desire is it will remain in the family and running long beyond me."
 
 
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