Date vintage John Deere tractors by serial number.
Date vintage John Deere tractors by serial number.

The original paperwork dating a John Deere tractor seldom accompanies an antique or vintage model purchased at auction or at a resale lot. Model identification can narrow the production year down to a range. However, pinpointing an exact year requires a serial number. Luckily, records exist on the beginning and ending sequential serial numbers for each production year of a given tractor style. Individual parts bear casting numbers, but only the engine block yields the desired digits. Some tractors also carry a tractor number plate on the body.

Locate the serial plate. Not all tractors have one, as some models did not come with them and some have been damaged or lost. Look on the lower edge of the tractor chassis between the grill and the driver's side front tire.

Look on the right driver’s side of the engine block for a number plate. The serial number appears on a steel riveted plate. Brass plates were substituted in some rare B models from the 1930s.

Create a rubbing if the plate is severely weathered. Cover the plate with a blank piece of paper. Rub over the number with a dark colored crayon or a pencil.

Copy the numbers from the etching or the plate.

Consult a John Deere serial number resource. Each resource lists the first serial number produced for each year by model. Find the correct model, and then the numbers closest to your tractor's serial number. For example, the serial number of the first individual Model R tractor in 1957 ended in 15720. The first of 1958 began with 19485. If your tractor's serial number ends in 15777, your tractor falls within the 1957 production year.