This is what happened when a Normanby man was challenged to build a V8
motor on a ride-on mower. Colin Evans of Normanby Engineering in Taranaki,
NZ, showed what could be done.
2013 Gold Cup Ford Flathead Powered John V8 Deere 200 Lawnmower Tractor Nostalgia Drag Racing
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August 17-18, 2013 - Third Annual Gold Cup - Empire Dragway
I don't know which is cooler. A '37 Ford Flathead stuffed between the
frame rails of an early 70s John Deere 200 lawn tractor, or the fact that a
then 16-year-old kid from Lottsville, Pennsylvania, designed, built and
owns it. I think I'll just roll with both on the equally cool meter.
While roaming the pits of the 2013 Gold Cup at Empire Dragway, my husband,
Mark, happened upon Todd and Wanda Johnson's pit area and found this
uber-unique pit vehicle. It's not like we were at a county fair; it was a
Gasser meet, after all. During the between rounds pit visit, Mark was able
to get a quick chat in with Todd Johnson who stated that his son, Tyler,
built the entire combination and where they were from. Armed with that
info, I was able to track Tyler down to find out the "hows and whys" of
Me -- "So what was the inspiration behind the this project?"
Tyler --"Well, way back in the day, I used to restore and pull old John
Deeres. A customer of ours knew this and told my dad that he had an old
lawn mower that quit running and was just sitting in his barnyard. He said
I was welcome to it and see if I could get it running again. I was 14,
maybe 15, when we got it. We brought it home, and I ripped the motor apart
only to discover it just wasn't repairable."
Me-(chuckling to myself over the "back in the day" response) "And you're
how old now?"
Tyler --"I'm 23 now."
Me- "Okay. So the John Deere engine is a no-go, how did the Flathead come
about as a replacement?"
Tyler --"About a year before getting the lawnmower, we went to an auction
and bought a few Flatheads. One of them was a complete car that we paid 10
bucks for. We were told the car ran when it was parked over four decades
earlier, but in reality it was beyond junk. We were surprised it even made
it home on the trailer. The closer we got to home, the more the rusted out
body kept leaning to one side. We ended up salvaging the engine, rear end
and transmission, and scrapped everything else. Those parts sat untouched
until one day I drug it into the garage to see if I could get it running.
It was just a motor and tranny sitting on the floor with a battery hooked
up and some tape holding the spark plug wires together. I sprayed some gas
down the carb and hit the starter with some power and it lit right off.
That was enough for us to decide that was the motor we wanted to run."
"With that in mind, I visited a friend of mine who was already building a
Cub Cadet with a V6 and I got the tape measure out to see if it would fit
in the John Deere. I measured the John Deere and decided then that we
could make his plan work. This was December of 2006. For Christmas, my
parents bought me some C Channel for a frame and I started there. However,
my mom put a $200 budget cap on the project. I used a rear axle from a
mid-80s S-10. I wanted the wheelbase to be as close to original as I could
get it, so there's no drive shaft it's just a u-joint instead. I made the
rear fenders 4" wider, and it still has the lawnmower front axle (which I
want to change soon)."
Me --"This is great stuff, Tyler. How long did it take you to build, and
what are your future plans?"
Tyler -- "I finished building it in 2007 when I was 16, and it didn't quite
take a year to build. Progress slowed down when it got to the point of me
starting to drive. Right now, I can't run it too long before it overheats,
and I want to rebuild it so it has a radiator. But I started working on my
Karmann Ghia, and so the lawnmower plans are now on hold."
John Deere Ford Flathead V8 Rat Rod
Small Block Tractor Test Run
This is a short hastily throw together video of me trying out my sister's
pulling tractor. There is something I should make clear before it is asked:
1) Yes I am wearing Crocs.
2) It was laundry day, I don't normally ride around in over sized sweat
pants, tee shirt, and some Crocs.
3) I don't care what you think about Crocs.