Saturday, October 8, 2011

Van Botkins

This week my friend Jules took me to Sydenstricker's John Deere store in Mexico, Missouri. We talked to Johnnie Brown and he showed us some pictures of the old Cajun Queen John Deere 4020 I pulled against as a young man. I remember meeting Eddie Sydenstricker and his ace mechanic, Van Botkins who built the Queen.

It was one of the few John Deere's that could compete in the heavy super stock classes as International Harvester had them locked up. Van built probably the first 466 John Deere engine that is now used in many John Deere applications. He figured out how to get Caterpillar pistons in it and the engine living stretched out to those large inches.

It was ironic that I had figured out how to use John Deere 4010 pistons in my Oliver 88 in a smaller application but very competitive for its weight class.

Van had the saying if she goes she goes, if she blows, she blows as he blew up many good John Deere blocks before he figured out how to make it live at those cubic inches and horsepower. They hung the saying right on the side of the tractor.

Johnnie told us Van had passed away 3 years ago. It was too bad I didn't get to see him one more time so I will make sure to see some of my other buddies before our time is up. Johnnie more than made up for it as I think I remember him being with the crew too and I am sure I have talked to him at Louisville and Bowling Green.

The first crops are coming out in the area and the yields are very good. We are blessed. My neighbor opened up the first field of corn I have seen in Ohio and many farmers are running soybeans as they quickly ripen to 13% moisture.

It sure has been a beautiful week in Ohio and two weeks across the midwest into the west.


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