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Old Iron News
December 7, 2022
Classic Farm and Tractor Magazine – January/February 2018
By Tom Stanley
Hello, readers! I do hope your summer and fall have been good to you. I am sorry about taking longer to write about Ford tractors than I intended, but farm work got away from me this year with the drought in this area and I just could not get to it, so I hope to make up for that from now on. This story will focus on the small Ford tractors I grew up with as well as those I got to pre-deliver and set up, install loaders and dozers on, etcetera at the local Ford dealership I worked for in the ’70s and early ’80s.
First, I want to be sure to bring up the two year old 1952 8N my uncle John got from a lifelong neighbor, who bought it new. That little 8N was used on his farm here in northeast Wyoming from 1954 until 1996 when I repainted it and hauled it to Casa Grande, Arizona for him to use on his small farm/home where he stays for the winter. Uncle Jim and brother John raked all the hay with it for many years, pulling a Deere rollbar rake, which is still here on the farm. John also found a very nice Case/Danuser six foot rear blade at a auction in the late 1950s to use behind the 8N to clean corrals, grade roads and remove snow in the winters. I can still see Jim with the couch cushions stacked up under him on that 8N’s hard metal seat, bouncing along in third gear at maybe half throttle, rolling three windrows together for John’s big 1281 New Holland wire tie self propelled baler.
I spent plenty of hours on that little tractor myself with the Case rear blade on it and chains, trying to keep the driveway clear in the winters. The 8N, although very handy to get off and on, sure did have some downfalls. They were built lighter than many others of the day so this led to adding liquid weight known as the dreaded calcium chloride to give the little tractor the traction to pull the blade. In the winter, you also had to chain up as she just was not happy without them. They also failed on the reverse speed on the 8N compared to its older brothers, the 9N and then the 2N, which were both three speed with one reverse much more usable and safe over the four speed 8N with the reverse the same speed as third gear.
If you have never run one, let me say reverse was FAST. One other thing the 8N and its older brothers had holding them back a bit was no live hydraulic power for the famous three-point system Harry Ferguson had came up with all those years before an
d had first installed on a David Brown tractor in England before bringing it to the United States to get more exposure and sales.
Of course, Ford did bring live hydraulic power to the next generation Ford tractor, the Golden Jubilee in 1953, but that is a story for another time.
For the most part, one gets along okay with no live power but a couple jobs the 8N in this story was used for and not having at least live hydraulic power made the job a bit of a pain to do at times. One big one was digging postholes. As many know, you can stick a posthole auger in the ground pretty easy at times; by its own design, it can “cork screw” itself right down hard and fast—on a tractor with live hydraulics, you can just stop the PTO before it gets really stuck and raise the digger a bit, clean out the hole and continue digging. On an 8N, the PTO has to be turning to raise the three-point so
you had to unhook the driveline to stop the digger from turning while raising the digger—not the best design for that at all but you worked with what you had.
The other job they did not shine at was when you had a rotary mower on them; if you happened to let the mower down in some brush or grass, it was a bit hard on things to get it raised with the mower trying to turn with the material getting cut all at once. Please understand I am just stating what I dealt with and the machine dang sure did a lot of work, but did take some getting used to in certain conditions.
The next Ford tractors I was around briefly was when a customer would bring in one for repairs at the Case dealership we owned from 1966-1976. The first one that comes to mind was a first generation model with Select-O-Speed transmission in the late 1960s.
It came in for an engine overhaul and after the repairs were completed, we always put a few hours on them to make sure all was okay and to give some break-in on the new engines. I was recruited to take it out and put some running hours on it.
This was winter time so I just used a new blade we had in stock and spent a couple hours cleaning snow around the dealership. For a young boy, the first thing I really liked was how easy the clutch pedal was to push down and it was interesting to use the single SOS shifter but I really was not impressed with how jumpy it was between certain gears—but all in all, I did not mind it and could see how handy it could be for certain jobs like baling. I was able to drive several other SOS machines over the years but that was the only time I ever actually used one working. As a Case dealer, we always had a hard time selling against the small Fords like the 2000-3000-4000 models mainly due to pricing. The 430-530 Case units were great machines—they had better weight balance, also came with full hydrostatic power steering, independent PTO and two remote hydraulics so these added features put our price higher than the Fords the local dealer had on the lot. Many people simply did not need all the features we equipped our machines with in their operation and one could not blame them for spending less money to do the same job and those 2000-3000-4000 machines were and still are tough, dependable, hard working machines no doubt.
When I came to work at the Ford dealership in 1977, the 3000-4000 machines had been replaced by the 2600-3600 and larger next generation tractors. These upgraded units improved on the great reputation that their older siblings had made for themselves by offering faster hydraulics and easier to use controls on the three-point system as well as a host of small changes that took this series up the ladder in Ford history. At the dealership, I got to handle all equipment at the store from the time they were unloaded off the transport truck to pre-delivering to hauling or driving them to their new homes when sold.
I was really fond of one 3600 diesel we had on the lot for a time. I had installed a Ford front mounted hydraulic angle push blade. Man, I loved that for cleaning snow from the lot in the winter and in late spring, I was using it to clean the latest snowfall, which was from one foot to three feet deep when a customer drove by. I saw him turn around and park across the road in a empty lot and watch me moving snow. After maybe 20 minutes or so, he came over and stopped me. I knew him well and he asked if he could try it out a bit as he really thought it would be handy for him at his ranch for plowing out hay stacks and his place faster than the rear blade and 2000 he was using.
Well, he cleaned all the rest of the snow off the front lot before parking the 3600 and coming inside. It was a short conversation with the owner and he came out of his office and thanked me for the “on the seat demo” and left. I delivered it that day to his ranch. I found working at that Ford dealership that I had the wrong idea about Ford equipment in that these small units were much tougher and generally were better machines than I had ever given them credit for when I was selling against them.
I will close for now. I do hope you enjoy my ramblings of my past lifetime with equipment and my time with Ford equipment. Till the next issue, take care and have a great winter.