Inside the Shed of John Deere Enthusiast Bruce Wallis
Waikato dairy farmer and quarry owner, Bruce Wallis, has had a long relationship with the John Deere brand. Attracted by the brand’s quality and after service, Bruce now has an extensive collection of John Deere machines and paraphernalia,
There’s been a Wallis on the 115 hectare farm and quarry at Roto-o-rangi since 1905, and Bruce is the fourth generation. His father Jack purchased the family’s first John Deere in the 1940s - a John Deere Model A, a popular row crop tractor that used Deere & Company's two cylinder design.
The next John Deere machine wasn’t bought until Bruce had finished his Ag degree at Massey and went into partnership with his father on the family farm.
“I’d been seeing the John Deere 2140 in brochures for a while, and I just loved the look and the build quality,” says Bruce.
In 1990, while his parents were away, Bruce went to Walsh Motors (now AGrowQuip Cambridge) and “snuck a 2140 onto the farm”.
“When Dad saw it he said it was going back, but after he’d driven it he said it could stay.”
Built in 1986, the John Deere 2140 was considered to be quite the tractor back then, and was the largest in the district.
“It was expensive for the time, nowadays it’s considered a yard tractor!”
Bruce’s love of the green and yellow tractors has grown into a pristine collection that fills an eight-bay round barn. The ultimate man-cave, this shed is a regular meeting place for Bruce and his like-minded mates, as well as housing an interesting representation of the evolution of John Deere machines.
A partition wall houses an extensive collection of John Deere models, accumulated by Bruce and his father before him. John Deere branded items such as vintage signs, clocks, lamps, clothing, furniture, bikes and posters are displayed throughout the shed.
Bruce even had a fridge, and vintage bath he intends to put over a fire pit and use, both spray painted in John Deere colours. His wife, Andra supports his hobby with the proviso that it doesn’t expand past the one shed!
Sadly, the original John Deere Model A is no longer in the family but Bruce has his own 1949 model, alongside a 1953 John Deere 40 bulldozer.
“Even today, it is still relatively easy to get parts for these vintage machines. It’s a real testimony to the sheer amount of John Deere machines made, and their popularity, that parts are still available.”
Two further tractors were bought in the 1990s, including a John Deere 2650, the first 4WD open tractor, which was used for loading and feeding out, and a 2 WD John Deere 3350.
“At that point we felt we had what we needed as we also owned a John Deere 1590 seed drill and the John Deere 590 hay baler. We grew our own maize on the farm.”
In 2015, Bruce had a double hip replacement, and slowed down by the recuperation process, was introduced to the wonders of surfing the internet.
“I came across a 1992 John Deere 4455 for sale in Iowa, USA. I’d always wanted one and this one was in original condition and had only done 3000 hours.”
Previously, one year Bruce had recreated the softball pitch from the Kevin Costner movie Field of Dreams, in the middle of his maize crop. He had two softball teams come and play, walking out of the maize, just like in the movie.
“The funny thing is that this 4455 was in Iowa, ten minutes away from where the movie was filmed! When I contacted the farmer, he didn’t know there was a country called New Zealand and thought I was joking when I said I wanted to buy his machine.”
Encouraged by a “good exchange rate” and his son Jack agreeing the Iowa connection was a “sign”, Bruce bought the tractor sight unseen and the Iowa farmer is now a friend.
“I had no idea how hard it was to ship a machine of this size, but AGrowQuip Cambridge came to the rescue and I was able to incorporate it into one of their import shipments and they did all the paperwork and made it happen.”
Bruce uses his 4455 “all the time” and it was taken to the July 2021 Groundswell ‘Howl of a Protest’ march.
Bruce has been phasing out the dairy side of the business and has recently added a new John Deere 6140M ROPS tractor and a John Deere F441R round baler for silage to the family fleet.
“We’re concentrating on the quarry and growing feed for the local farmers now.”
He appreciates being in the open cab 6140M on summer nights when they are working late, and he can’t speak highly enough about the “beautiful, perfect round bales” produced by the F441R baler.
Bruce buys through AGrowQuip Cambridge sales rep, Lloyd Salt.
“We just clicked from day one, he looks after us and has been fantastic, going out of his way to meet our requirements. I’ve several mates at AGrowQuip now.”
As AGrowQuip have now added construction vehicles to their range, Bruce and his son Jack, who is joining him in the Wallis Quarries family business, are looking forward to seeing what John Deere have to offer for this side of their business.