McCormick-Deering Tractor

Warren Neal on his dad Kenneth Neal’s McCormick-Deering tractor, perhaps Grandpa Kenneth’s first tractor. Dad graduated from Dexter High School in 1935, so this was probably when he was in high school. Dallas County, Iowa, early 1930s

The McCormick-Deering steel-wheeled, kerosene-powered 15-30 tractor was a popular farm model between 1921 and 1934. In 1935, when Dad (Warren Neal) graduated from high school, about 85% of tractors rode on metal wheels.

Those steel wheels were covered with piercing lugs that gouged every surface. It’s no wonder hard-surface roads often had signs that read: “Tractors with Lugs Prohibited.”

McCormick-Deering 15-30

The Ideal Three-Plow Tractor

“Powerful, fast-moving, economical, the McCormick-Deering 15-30 is the ideal three-plow tractor. With a plowing speed of three miles an hour and abundant power, the McCormick-Deering tractor owner can plow a satisfactory acreage every day and at a depth of his liking. Fast, deep plowing requires plenty of power. That is the reason this tractor meets the requirements of the practical farmer.

“The McCormick-Deering 15-30 has ample power to pull three plows and meets the requirements of tractor owners for a little more power and a little more speed to enable them to accomplish more during the rush periods of spring, summer and fall work.

Ever-Ready Belt Power

“On belt work, the McCormick-Deering 15-30 exceeds all expectations for smooth, steady running. The effective throttle governor regulates the fuel to the load and keeps the speed practically constant even though the load may vary.

“The McCormick-Deering 15-30 is designed throughout to be of maximum utility as a farm power unit. It is fully equipped with steel platform, wide fenders, belt pulley, adjustable drawbar, brakes and removable angle lugs.

“See the McCormick-Deering dealer or write us for information on this tractor.”


How to start one of these tractors.

The history of the McCormick-Deering is complicated. Check it out if you’re interested.

I wonder whether this tractor was Grandpa Kenneth Neal’s first tractor. Grandma Ruby wrote, “Living close to town and having a nice matched team of horses, Kenneth was called upon to drive them on the horse-drawn hearse.”

These are work horses, and this is what farming looked like before tractors. The netting on the horses is to ward of flies that would bite them. The driver of the sickle bar mower is probably Kenneth Neal.


  1. The jaw and face look like your Grandpa Neal on the mower. We had 2 work horses until I was about 3. Brother, Richard woke me up one morning to get clubs (sticks). The horses, Dolly and Don were being led down to the neighborhoods who had a loading ramp for trucks. We were not going to let “those men” take our horses, never to be seen again. Not successful ! Our first tractor was a 1941 John Deere model B. Newer than the 15-30, but only power for a 2-bottom plow. How farming has changed !

    • You remember that? Dolly and Don. Dad had work horses when we lived at the Shaw place, but when we bought the place along Old Creamery Road, Dad got his first tractor, an F-20! I only remember it with a sickle mower, and as power for the elevator taking bales to the haymow.

  2. Oh my goodness! The video of how to turn on that McCormick-Deering tractor! You’d need to be a mechanic to get it all in gear and in motion. Wow! Love the photos and history lesson, Joy. 🥰

  3. I stacked bales in the barn for your dad a few times (50-75 cents a hour). Probably the FarmAll?F-20 on the belt. Like the McCormick/Derring 15-30, many early tractors had that hyphenated 2-numbers designation. First number, horsepower at the axle, second #, the belt. I think!? Bob

  4. I don’t recall starting of the F-20. Our JD-B had electric start, but landlord Walter Clausen’s B was older and was started by hand-turning the fly wheel. I really liked that “little tractor”. I hope non-farmers like our local “chit-chat”! Bob

  5. My grandfather at 12 took his younger brother of 8 and ran away from home in North Dakota. They had an old uncle in Minnesota take them in. He Got a job driving a team of horses (12 hour days for a dollar a day). He was one of the first in the county to own a steel wheel as he called it.

  6. Very neat post! As a fan of vintage tractors, I greatly appreciate hearing about the people who used them and took good care of them. I have a ’38 Case RC tractor and I wonder who did it belong to back in the 30’s and what was it used for. Love the history of this McCormick Deering tractor. I can’t remember, but is this tractor still in your family?

    • My Case tractor is up in Minnesota at my friend’s ranch. I drove it last summer when we had it at the Nowthen tractor show, also in Minnesota. I’ve been a vintage tractor fan for almost 20 years, but my skills working on these machines are pretty minimal. So my buddy is being a great caretaker for my tractor. Especially because it is my dream tractor.

  7. Joy, your Dad’s F-20 probably had PTO, power take off. A splined shaft in back, just below the driver’s seat. Instead of a belt, that was, more than likely, connected and powering the elevator. Besides me, great response to this post.

    • This is fun. I’ve just asked a neighbor if I can do a post about his dad’s restored Allis-Chalmers WD-45. This retired optometrist drives it in parades, takes it to the Iowa State Fair, tractor rides, gives hay-rack rides, and is in a tractor club!

  8. Wow! What a photo! What a tractor! I just went to a county fair last weekend and saw the line-up of new tractors. My little grandsons were so thrilled to look at those tractors. In fact, we have bought them little tractors for Christmas and little sweatshirts with tractors on them. The kids looked so little beside those great big wheels!!! The world has changed quite a bit…still, if you saw the look in our grandkids’ eyes, some things have not changed so much! A tractor to a little one is still pretty awesome!!! (They also loved the baby goats!) 🙂

  9. The men who operated these rugged tractors were rugged men who apparently appreciated the mechanical monster that helped them to work the land. According to your post responses, the McCormick-Deering 15-30 tractor still garners plenty of respect for its powerful entrance into the lives of farmers a century ago. Thanks, Joy!

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