John Deere 1010RU
John Deere transformed itself on August 30, 1960, when it unveiled a completely redesigned line of tractors and a new focus. They called it the “New Generation of Power” and gone were most of the long running “Poppin’ Johnny” two-cylinders that had been the mainstream for decades. A few of the old generation stayed in production briefly but the new tractors featured inline engines and the larger units were new from head to toe. This event heralded a heyday for Deere and a jump-start towards the head of the American tractor manufacturing pack.
Four tractors were introduced, the 1010, 2010, 3010 and 4010, and they ran the range of size and output. At the bottom end of the line was the 1010, which was a compact unit suitable for a smaller farmer or as a utility tractor on a large farm. It was offered in an impressive array of configurations that made it highly versatile in the ag and commercial markets.
Where the 3010 and 4010 were very much clean-sheet-of-paper designs, the 1010 and 2010 were less so. While they had new engines, the final drive and many components were very much based on the ‘59-60 Deere 435. That wasn’t a bad thing, the 435 having been a good small tractor.
The 1010R (R for “Rowcrop”) was the base ag model. The base version had a narrow (two-wheel) front and adjustable rear track, along with a 3-point hitch, drawbar, two-speed PTO (1000 and 540 rpm) and clamshell fenders. A single front wheel version is also rarely seen. Many 1010R (the letter designations are seen on the serial tag) are also seen with wide front axles. The 1010RU (RU for “Rowcrop Utility” ) was the do-it-all tractor, with a wide front axle but otherwise like the 1010R. The 1010U was a straight utility but had some features of a rowcrop. The 1010RS was called a single rowcrop and came with an especially narrow track and unique half-clamshell rear fenders. The 1010O was an orchard variant built with a low stance and full fenders over the rear tires. The 101RUS was an economy special, with a few deleted features (540 non-live PTO only) and a metal pan seat. The 1010W was a wheeled industrial (painted yellow) and was often missing the 3-point hitch. Typically it had a set back wide front axle (shorter wheelbase for tighter turns) and shorter tires. There was a turf variant of the 1010W that came with special wheels and tires and a “T” on the serial tag. Finally, the 1010C was the crawler version, fully tracked, and it came in ag (green) and commercial (yellow) variants. Reportedly there was a special loader variant of the 1010W.
All the above gives the impression of nice, clear designations and model divisions. The reality was less clear. You saw a fair bit of mixing and matching of features in the tractors actually produced. Was that due to special orders, dealer request or just the Dubuque, Iowa, factory mixing and matching features … we don’t know.
The 1010 and 2010 engines were a unique design. An innovative. “Unique” is a word that cuts both ways. What they did is almost unique in the industry and that usually means the idea wasn’t so hot. The four-cylinder engines in the 1010 and 2010, gas and diesel, were wet sleeved but a variation called a sleeve and deck. All four cylinder liners were brazed (really!) to a 5/16-inch piece of plate steel and that plate was sandwiched between the block and the head. The sleeves were sealed at the bottom with single o-rings and a gasket sealed the block to the bottom edge of the sleeve deck. A conventional head gasket, with fire rings, seal the combustion chamber.
The advantages of this setup were stated by John Deere engineering as being mostly from the manufacturing side. The base architecture of the engine came from a recently developed parent bore 3.625 x 3.50-inch bore and stroke engine family, a 145 cubic inch four and 217cubic inch six. These were compact engines with very tight bore spacing so could not be enlarged much down the road. Conceived by Perfect Circle back about 1955, the sleeve and deck idea allowed John Deere to offer a variety of displacements in the same basic block. This certainly offered a lot of flexibility to John Deere.
In practice, the same four-cylinder engine was easily configured to deliver 145 and 165 cubic inches (3.50, 3,625, and 3.875-inch bores respectively) and the sixes were 217 and 248 cubic inches. The 1010 gas engine was built at 115 cubic inches and had a shorter 3.0-inch stroke. The diesels were built at 145 cubes. The 2010 started off with a 145 cubic inch gasser and a 165 cubic inch diesel. The sixes were used mostly in combines and for stationary plants. On paper, it seemed like a good idea and delivered a good deal of manufacturing flexibility to the Dubuque engine plant. In 1960, John Deere was crowing about it like a rooster waking up to appreciate his flock of hens just waiting for service. Then the reality set in.
The earliest issue was coolant leakage past that single lower o-ring. By most reports, those issues had a lot to do with infrequent cooling system service and hard work, but that’s something for which a manufacturer should build a safety factor and most sources thing that is a double or triple o-ring setup were used, the vast majority of trouble could have been avoided. Much of the bad rap came after the 1010 and 2010 became old tractors. Pitting, corrosion, age and other factors made these engines tougher to rebuild properly resulting in a lot of chuffed gearheads condemning sleeve and deck engines as POS. And they weren’t all wrong. Nor were they all right, with plenty of good service reports from people who better understood how to deal with the inherent frailties of the engines.
The 1010 had but five years of service, though a fair number were built Deere lists list 44,377 as the total but by serial numbers, 47,312 is the number. In both cases, that includes all types (including crawlers). We could not find a full breakdown of production by model, though the 1010RU as shown here was one of the more popular models. From the resources we could find, gassers outnumbered diesel by 10-20 percent.
The 1010 were replaced by the 1020, which truly was a new design with a new engine (the 300 series) and then the small Deere line was up and running, hitting on all cylinders. The 1010 is left somewhat tainted by the so-so engine reputation but that has not blunted the impact the 10-Series New Generation small tractors had on the American faming landscape.
1962 John Deere 1010 RU
Engine: 4-cyl, John Deere
Displacement: 145 ci
Bore & Stroke: 3.625 c 3.50
*Rated PTO Power: 35.99 hp @ 2500 rpm
*Rated Drawbar Power: 30.82 hp @ 2442 rpm
Flywheel Power: 42 hp @ 2500 rpm
Compression Ratio: 19.0:1
Weight: 4,041 lbs.
Wheelbase: 77.6875 (set back axle 82.5 standard)
Fuel Capacity: gal.
Tires: Front- 5.00-15
*Fuel Consumption: 3.02 GPH @ full power
*Drawbar Pull: 3,657 w/max ballast
*Top Speed: 16.86 mph
* As Rated by Nebraska Tractor Test 803