Old-School Ford Tractors: Still Hard At Work?
By Tom Seest
At ClassicTractorNews, we help classic tractor lovers keep up with the latest news for classic and vintage tractors.
Vintage Ford tractors are highly desirable due to their affordability and durability. Easy to repair, these classic machines can also accommodate a range of attachments.
Due to wartime restrictions, rubber became scarcer, leading to steel wheels being the standard choice. Front axle radius rods were modified with more lightweight yet more resilient designs, while headlights were upgraded to sealed beam units.
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The Ford 8N tractor is one of the most well-known vintage tractors on the market, thanks to its simplistic design and long lifespan. Farmers, homesteaders, hobbyists, and even young children find this tractor appealing due to its durability and reasonable cost. Beginners as well as enthusiasts often appreciate it’s affordability, making it ideal for beginning use as well as enthusiast use alike. Many also find its ease of use makes it an excellent option.
The 8N was first manufactured in 1947 and remains popular on small farms due to its adaptable use with various implements. Its simple hydraulic system makes attaching implements such as plows, blades, scoops, and more incredibly straightforward – not only that, but you could even use one with your lawnmower or even to pull a hay wagon!
One of the unique aspects of the 8N tractor was its flathead engine. Capable of running on gasoline, propane gas, or even diesel fuel – plus being easy to maintain and repair – making this an economical solution for farmers.
Aside from its flathead engine, one thing that sets the 8N apart from other tractors is its two-speed transmission – it allows for faster work completion while also making driving on wet or sandy roads easier. Furthermore, this tractor’s excellent brakes ensure easy control when needed on uneven roads.
The 8N may seem simple, but its durability speaks for itself: thanks to its sturdy construction and quality parts, this tractor will last years with proper care. Reliability and affordability make this tractor an appealing option for farmers everywhere.
The 9N tractor, commonly referred to as a Ford Ferguson due to its joint development by Ford and Ferguson companies, was created as an all-purpose utility tractor capable of adapting quickly to different tasks using its Ferguson three-point hitch and hydraulic system that allowed attachments for easy modifications.
The inaugural year of production for the Ford 8N tractor was one full of changes and adaptations. These included switching from 6 to 12 volts and upgrading its carburetor from TSX 33 to TSX 241. Furthermore, its one-piece shifter handle was converted to threaded handles at this time.
The Ford 9N tractor was one of their most beloved creations, becoming an indispensable machine to many farmers as a tool in their agricultural operations. A lightweight tractor designed for versatility, the 9N could perform many tasks, including plowing fields, cultivating soil, planting crops, harvesting them, and cutting hay for harvest. Furthermore, its capacity to pull trailers and other equipment made it reliable and enduring – many farmers used one as the cornerstone of their farm operation!
In 1939, Ford produced their inaugural N-series tractors designed by engineer Harold Brock. Brock was charged with producing an appealing tractor to meet both Ferguson’s and Ford’s needs simultaneously – taking elements from each design company and creating one unique to each company’s technology.
Ford sold nearly 3 million 9N series tractors by the end of World War II. After the conflict, they decided to make several modifications, such as different paint colors and tires for the rear suspension, and even changing its model number, creating what became known as the Ford 2N, which looked much like its predecessor but included distinct differences.
The most notable change was in color; these new tractors were painted dark grey instead of the light green used prior to World War II. Furthermore, clutch pedal linkages had been modified from bolting directly onto pedals to keyed versions; additionally, the radiator had been reconfigured to become smaller while simultaneously increasing pressure to 4 PSI for higher boiling points in coolant solutions.
Another modification was the relocation of the choke knob, moving it closer to the front of the tractor so that it could be operated as you turned over the engine. At the same time, rear axle hubs were changed from solid ones to ones with an open-center hub design.
One significant change was that serial numbers began prefixed with “2N”. Although still classified as 9N tractors, these tractors could now be purchased with starters and batteries to meet War Production Controls without violating them.
Ford 2N Tractors were introduced as World War Two approached, and policies to conserve materials were put in place. According to SSB Tractor Website reports when America entered World War Two, some 2N tractors featured steel wheels and magneto ignition systems to conserve materials since starters and batteries had become essential war effort components. While still functional, these stripped-down tractors could no longer be sold with rubber tires or batteries as these would no longer be sold due to war efforts; also, no electric start was available, so these units had to be hand-cranked since no electric start was possible as no electric start existed for electric starters either!
Soon enough, however, the US government realized the significance of farm equipment to our military efforts, and restrictions were lifted; rubber, steel, and batteries once more became readily available; only minor adjustments to 2N’s were necessary – adding a small “2N” under Ford script on the badge.
Other changes to the 2N included an upgraded cooling fan and pressurized radiator, more durable sealed-beam headlights than on previous models, and sealed steel grilles with vertical bars instead of horizontal slots on earlier models – these changes remained in use through 1947 and 1948 models.
At this same time, a double-ribbed rear tire and wheel were upgraded with stronger and longer-lasting single-rib models, and clutch pedal linkages were updated from bolt-on style to more reliable lever arm designs that remained on later N tractors. A more reliable riveted axle hub became available, starting with serial number 9N45500, while wide 10×28 rear tires became standard equipment.
Henry Ford and Irish inventor Harry Ferguson had experienced friction since their original handshake agreement had begun to falter, as it cost Ford more to produce tractors than Ferguson was paying. By 1947, Ferguson officially split with Sherman Brothers and started selling their tractors through their own company: Harry Ferguson Inc. By this point, its 9N tractor had become immensely successful.
At this point, the 9N and 2N had become less prevalent, thus increasing collectability; their lower serial numbers also provided them with greater resale values than previous models.
The Ford NAA Jubilee was first released for sale in 1953 as an upgrade from its predecessors: 9N, 2N, and 8N tractors. This compact tractor featured an anniversary badge to commemorate its 50th birthday as well as an overhead-valve Red Tiger four-cylinder engine for improved performance – improvements which quickly made this model hugely popular; production continued until late 1954.
Over 130,000 NAA tractors were produced during its inaugural year alone, making it one of the most acclaimed vintage Ford tractors ever built. Due to its dependable performance and affordable pricing, its popularity persisted throughout its long lifespan; parts are readily available both new and used – no wonder one in good condition can fetch $2,500+ today.
The 1953 NAA tractor was the first tractor with live hydraulics, a newly designed seat backrest and controls, and an improved rear axle. Additionally, its cooling system featured pressurization to raise its boiling point of coolant while its radiator was upgraded with a new style radiator. Furthermore, engine serial numbers were moved forward on the block, and its starter clutch pedal linkage was changed from a bolt-on pedal to a lever arm connecting directly with transmissions.
All these changes added up to create a highly efficient tractor. Its powerful 134 cubic inch engine was reliable, while its sleek styling and distinctive hood badge made it easily identifiable. It quickly became the most sought-after tractor of its time – and continues to enjoy wide popularity today.
Selecting between the Ford 8N and Jubilee may prove challenging; both models make excellent classic tractors that can help perform various chores. Your decision ultimately comes down to personal preferences and budget considerations.
No matter the tractor model you opt for, investing in quality restoration is always worthwhile and can provide years of reliable service. If you’re searching for an exceptional vintage Ford, don’t miss the Ford NAA Jubilee – its affordability makes it an excellent value proposition.
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