MOLINE, Ill. — A John Deere tractor regularly used by Elvis Presley on his Mississippi ranch and at his home at Graceland will be displayed at the Elvis Presley Automobile Museum.
The John Deere 4010 tractor was restored by students at Northwest Mississippi Community College in Senatobia, Miss., with guidance from John Deere.
After putting nearly 400 man hours into the project, the students finally were “let in on the secret” of who the tractor belonged to when officials from Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc. and John Deere Corp., came to pick up the tractor and recognize the students for their work.
The tractor was moved to a newly-prepared exhibit space May 8 at the Elvis Presley Auto Museum.
A team of four students, Andrew Fortune, Aaron Jolley, Blane McGuire and Timothy Reed, worked on the project every day with their teacher, Shane Louwerens, never knowing who or what the tractor was for.
“It was hard to keep it a secret from the guys after a while because they knew that something was up from the beginning,” Louwerens said. “They wanted to know why I was being so tedious and careful with everything.”
According to Louwerens, a project like this usually takes at least a year to complete, but he and the group of students worked more than 385 hours in just 30 days to get the job done in a month.
“The tractor was in typical condition for a 1963 model, and required disassembly, pressure washing, and a ton of other detailed work too long to list,” he said.
In all, only about 10 pieces of the tractor were replaced, leaving the majority of it in original condition. Some dents and scratches were left on in order to preserve the tractor’s historical and sentimental value.
Students even used jeweler’s polish to restore the original gauges and light covers so that they could be used.
Louwerens said, “Every one of our projects get a nickname. We called this one Stella.”
Dandridge Equipment in Somerville, Tenn., supplied any replacement parts that were needed, and Louwerens admits finding replacement parts for the 40-year-old tractor was one of the hardest parts of the project.
The students were required to keep daily journals of any work performed on the tractor, and Louwerens took photographs of the entire process from the time it arrived on campus until the time it was completed.
Elvis acquired his John Deere 4010 tractor with the purchase of a Mississippi ranch in 1966. Having grown up around farming in Tupelo, Elvis knew he needed the best equipment possible to care for the land he had just purchased.
Family members and close friends of Elvis tell stories about the enjoyment the famous entertainer had while working with his tractor. After Elvis sold the ranch, the tractor moved to Graceland and was used to maintain the landscaping on the property for decades.
Graceland visitors from around the world had come to know and look for Elvis’ old tractor when visiting the historical landmark.
Graceland replaced the John Deere with a new model recently and decided to prepare the old tractor, which had served for nearly 50 years, for display in the Elvis Presley Automobile Museum.
Elvis’ John Deere 4010 tractor Series 213, is a general purpose diesel tractor that was built at the John Deere Waterloo Works, in Waterloo, Iowa. It was sold at a John Deere dealership in Tunica, Miss., and also included a 46A John Deere loader, a rare combination making the tractor unique.
The 4010 tractor owned by Elvis was one of four models in John Deere’s “New Generation of Power” — a four- and six-cylinder tractor line the company introduced in 1961.
The Elvis Presley Automobile Museum is located at the national historic landmark Elvis Presley’s Graceland, Memphis, Tenn.
A special-edition, die-cast version of the tractor will go on sale in November at authorized John Deere dealers nationwide, on http://www.shopelvis.com and at Graceland. This special model will include a 46A loader, an accessory rarely found on die-cast collectibles.
All four of the students who worked on this project will graduate in May to pursue careers in the field of agriculture equipment mechanics.
“The best thing about this project is knowing that I’ve been a part of this — a part of history,” said Fortune.
More photos can be found be clicking here.