What are Field Service Bulletins?

By Duane Larson

Field Service Bulletins (FSB) are documents, typically 1-4 pages in length, provided monthly (usually) by the John Deere Tractor Company at Waterloo to its larger dealers. Initially the FSB were John Deere's way of communicating technical information related to tractor service; later, these were expanded to include implements. The bulletins served as the Tractor Company's source of information regarding tractor and engine specifications, torque values, and repair methods. They also included suggestions to dealers how to improve their operations and keep the tractors running. Periodically, a comprehensive index was provided; the indices included detailed cross-referencing so that information could be easy to locate. Examples of pages from two indexes (1935-1940 and 1956) are provided HERE to illustrate the breadth of information provided.


Beginning in 19291, John Deere provided dealers with Repair Service Bulletins (RSB) which contain updates to the Repair Catalogs (early name for parts catalogs) and service information. Beginning with Issue 53 of the RSB, only updates to the Repair Catalogs were included in the RSB. The service information was separated into a new line of documents named Field Service Bulletins. RSB from 49-R (5/15/35) through 73-R (5/15/37) are included in this CD. RSB from 53-R through 73-R contain only parts update information and are not indexed, but do contain interesting information on changes to parts.

Initially the FSB, like the RSB, were issued on rag-stock paper which does not stand the test of time. Fortunately, in June 1936 FSB 53-S through 62-S were reprinted on glossy green paper, and glossy paper was continued for subsequent issues. A loose-leaf binder to contain FSB was announced in 62-S, and an index was provided which began with 53-S. The bulletin color was changed from green to white at FSB 153 (June 15, 1946). The "John Deere Tractor Field Service Bulletin" continued until October 1952, when it was renamed the "John Deere Service Bulletin." At that time the scope was broadened to include implements, and the monthly publication increased from 4 pages to 8 or more pages. The last reference to information for a 2-cylinder tractor was in JDSB-313 (May 1962).

The Moline Tractor Works (which built the L, LA, LI tractors, LU series of power units, and Type E stationary engines) also offered a line of service bulletins, named "Service Hints". A total of ten were produced from December 1943 through May 1946 (about the time L and LA production ceased), and these are also included in the CD.

The Dubuque Works began producing tractors of the M series in spring 1947, but it wasn't until FSB 179 (May 1951) that information related to Dubuque models began to be included.


Field Service Bulletins are not readily available.  Duane started collecting FSBs about 1986, and spent the next 5 years assembling a complete set from Issue 53 until the last mention of 2-cylinder tractors in 1962. His is one of the few known original sets which has been assembled, and he has sold paper copies of the set over the years. However, with the advent of scanners with Optical Character Recognition capability, the decision was made to scan and prepare a set of fully searchable FSBs and make them available at a reasonable price to interested collectors and restorers. We are the sole-source supply of the CD containing this information.

1 Duane's current best estimate of the date

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