The Kankakee Cold Case: Grandpa’s lost John Deere 4020

Feb. 22, 2023 • Interesting Iron

Interesting Iron 0223

I met a lady named Stacey at the National Farm Machinery Show last Saturday, and we got to talking. As it turns out, she’s on a mission and she needs your help!

She’s trying to find her grandpa’s 1967 model 4020 – the sister tractor to one that’s in the photo above.

Yeah, I know – finding a lost John Deere 4020 is a needle in a haystack kind of thing.

Still, this is 2023 and everybody and their monkey’s uncle are on some kind of social media. If ever there’s been a time where the internet can band together and find Grandpa’s tractor, it’s right here and now.

So, that’s what we’re going to try to do. Even if you don’t know where it is, I’d ask you to share this article around your social circles. Maybe somebody you know might be able to help. Or a friend of a friend. You know how it works. The more the word travels, the better the chances that we’ll find that tractor.

Here’s what we know:

Wheeler Tractor & Equipment 1971
Wheeler Tractor & Equipment is where the pair of 4020s were sold to Stacey’s Dad & Grandpa. This photo was taken a few years later, circa 1971. Sidenote: Websites like are awesome! (Photo:

Stacey’s dad bought a 1967 John Deere 4020 at Wheeler Tractor & Equipment in Kankakee, IL on September 9, 1967. Six months later, her grandfather drove his Oliver 1850 gas down to the same dealership and traded it in on a 4020 of his own. Later that day when the tractor was delivered, lo and behold, they found out that it was a consecutive serial number to Stacey’s dad’s tractor!

Dad’s tractor is T213R167721R, and it’s still in the family. Grandpa’s 4020 was either the one before Dad’s, or the one after. Stacey doesn’t know which, but she figures that all it’ll take is a phone call or two to figure it out. They were both very well cared-for, and neither of ’em never spent the night outside.

The Kankakee Cold Case

The sister tractors worked together in the field for about ten years. However, in 1977, Grandpa traded his tractor in on a 4230. She’s pretty certain it went back to Wheeler or to B&R Implement in Clifton, IL.

Either way, that’s where the trail went cold. Nobody in the family knows where Grandpa’s 4020 went after the 4230 came home, and they’d really like to have it back.

lost john deere 4020 serial numbers
One of these is the serial number for Stacey’s grandpa’s long-lost 4020. If you know where either of ’em are, please reach out to me and I’ll put you in touch with Stacey!

Both tractors were more or less identical; open-stations, Synchro transmissions and 16.9-38s on the back. For years, they worked in tandem to build the farming operation, and Stacey’s family desperately wants to reunite them. If you know where either of those tractors went, please reach out to me! Any and all leads are very much appreciated!

john deere 4020
Today, Stacey’s dad’s tractor is tucked in the corner of the shed. It’s awful lonely without it’s sister tractor! (Photo: Jeff Lanoue)

Wrapping up…

At the end of the day, I know that Stacey Lanoue’s story isn’t necessarily unique. There are hundreds of people searching for old family tractors that got away (myself included). Folks, if you’re out there looking for your family tractors, don’t give up. The internet is making this world a very small, connected place. With enough tenacity and a little bit of luck, you’ll find that piece of equipment. It might take 17 years, but you’ll find it.

If you’re looking for a lost John Deere 4020 like Stacey, bookmark this page. It’s every 4020 listed at a dealer or on an auction from a Tractor Zoom partner!

Tractor Zoom is connecting farm equipment sellers and buyers faster than ever before. Finding farm equipment at auction or at a dealership has never been so easy.