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Anyone familiar with old Ford Tractors??

Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by Salmonid, Jul 11, 2005.

  1. Hey, thought I would run this past here just in case any farm boys are lurking.
    Im looking at buying a very used Ford 8N or 9N tractor (1949-1955) and will be looking at my first one tonight. I know nothing about them but know they are very common and are real work horses.

    Im really curious if anyone know "mechanically" what I should be looking for or asking about.
    The one in particular also has a 3 ft front end loader if anyone has any input on that piece of equipment.

    Thanks ahaead of time,
  2. I would check the steering well, since there is a front loader on it. The extra weight on the front can due alot of wear and tear. If the steering feels loose or shakey I would keep looking. Out of curiosity what are you going to use the tractor for? There are alot of newer used tractors on the market at pretty good prices.


  3. LakeRaider

    LakeRaider EEEEEK!

    If the tractor has been setting a while hopefully the owner stuck a piece of wood between the clutch pedal and the trans to keep the clutch disc off the pressure plate. They are notorious for seizing up (the motor-trans is the frame on these models if I remember correctley. Also these were very dangerous tractors to operate with muddy boots ( foot slips off the clutch and over she goes) pinning you to the ground ( or worse). Other than that they were extremley reliable. Look for one with a 3 point hitch also. Work great for moving boats around the yard. We had one (flathead) that smoked like crazy but always fired up. One other thing is the radiator, leaky old thangs! :) The 800 series are also pretty good. Raider
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 30, 2015
  4. I'm no farm boy but I do own a 1952 Ford 8N and love it. Here's a very good answer to your question, courtesy of

    Q: "What should I look for when buying a used 8N?"

    A: A lot depends on what you plan to do with the tractor. Obviously, if it is to be a work tractor only, some of the cosmetic and originality issues will not be nearly as important as if you were looking for a restoration project. Everyone looks at them differently. I'll try to cover the basic stuff. The 8N's didn't change a lot from '47 to '52 but there were some important changes. In late '49 the steering box was much improved over the early models. Loose steering was common on the early models and the early steering boxes are more difficult to rebuild satisfactorily. In mid '50 the distributor was moved to the side of the engine and access to the points at tune up time got a lot easier. The later models also had a Proofmeter (tach and hourmeter) which can be handy at times. The early 8N's are fine tractors, but the later models seem to be more desirable among buyers. This isn't usually reflected in price or value, but people do give it some weight in the decision to buy or not to buy a particular tractor.
    The first thing to do is to walk all around the tractor and give it a visual inspection. Don't be blinded by fresh paint. It can mask a lot of defects, and a poor paint job is worse than none at all. And, don't confuse "painted" with "restored". There's a BIG difference. Don't immediately reject one for lack of a good paint job, either. It may be in excellent mechanical condition. Look at the sheetmetal. It should be reasonably straight and have no large rust outs. Nice original grilles, hoods and fenders are valuable and can be expensive to replace if needed. Look at the tires. Look for weather cracking, splits, cuts, chunks missing, and amount of wear on the tread. The tires should match, size and brand, and rears should have at least one inch of tread to be considered good. Tires can be expensive, especially rears, which will cost $350-$450 (with new tubes and labor) to replace. Good tires are a plus. Check the rear rims for rust from calcium cloride inside. If the tires are filled and are leaking, the rims may be shot. It's usually most noticeable as being wet around the valve stem. Starting at the front, open the radiator cap. Is the coolant clean? No oily stuff floating around? Oily stuff can be just some stop leak, or it can mean a bad head gasket or worse. Look through the grille and underneath and from behind at the radiator. Any leaks or damage? A radiator repair will be $50 or more. New replacement radiators from China sell for around $150. Wiggle the fan blade to check the bearings in the water pump. It should be tight. Any leaks? New water pumps cost around $60. Does the fan belt look ok? Check the radiator hoses for cracks or soft spots. Look at the head where it bolts to the block. Any leaks there? Look at the left side of the block where the coolant draincock is. Check all around the area in front of the draincock and above it for cracks in the block or signs that a crack has been repaired. If someone has let the engine freeze up in the winter, this is where it usually cracks. Be wary of cracked blocks, especially if repairs have been poorly done. A cracked block makes the tractor worth substantially less and trying to find a good used block for a reasonable price can be a very frustrating task. On the other hand, a crack that has been properly repaired won't affect the performance of a work tractor one bit. Pull the oil dipstick out. Look for signs of water in the oil (milky) and see how dirty it looks. While you're in that area, try to read the serial number. This will tell you what year the tractor is (many owners/sellers don't actually know what they have). Look at the fuel sediment bowl. Is it full of rust particles? This could indicate a gas tank with rust problems inside. Look up under the hood at the gas tank. Any leaks or patches? Look at the electrical wiring. Open the fuel door on top of the hood and look at the wiring behind the dash. Does it look frayed or burned or in need or replacement? How do the battery and cables look? Look at the radius rods that support the front axle. They should be straight, not bowed upward. Shake the left and right tie rods. All 4 ball and socket ends should be tight. Grab the front tire and push/pull inside and out on it. The wheel bearings and spindles should be tight, no play. Look at the manifold. Is it solid? No holes or cracks or carbon marks on the block where the gasket is burned away and leaking? A replacement manifold will cost around $60. How's the muffler? New ones cost about $20. Does the carburetor look as if it is now or has been leaking gas? Is the air cleaner and inlet tube intact and connected to the carburetor? Turn the steering wheel left and right to check for excessive backlash in the steering. Does one front wheel start to turn before the other starts moving? This indicates a misadjustment or worn sector shafts in the steering box. Look at the surface of the clutch pedal. Is the tread mostly worn away? This is an indication of hours of use on the tractor. Move to the rear tires. Grab the top of the tire and push/pull toward and away from the center of the tractor. Does the wheel have side play? Do you hear a clunk when you push/pull? This can indicate a misadjustment in the shims that load the rear axle bearings. There should be very little, if any, play when properly adjusted. If it feels loose, watch the nut on the outside of the rear hub while you push/pull. Can you see movement behind the nut and washer? This indicates a loose hub on the axle. It may be able to be tightened, but if the movement is excessive the hub is most likely shot from running loose. New hubs are around $60 each. Look inside the wheel at the brake drum area. Any signs of grease leaking from the rear axle or from the brake drum? Leaks here are common, mostly from bad axle seals. If the rear hubs are loose or misadjusted (clunking) the seals will never keep the grease in the axle where it belongs. The brake shoes will be saturated with grease and need will need replaced. Figure $100 for new brake shoes and axle seals (parts only). Go around to the back and unscrew the PTO cover cap (if it has one). If oil is leaking out around the shaft it will need a new seal installed. Check the splines on the pto shaft for excesive wear or twists. A new PTO shaft can cost $100 or more. Inspect the lower lift arms. The ball sockets are likely worn some and will be loose, but should not be so loose that it appears the ball is ready to pop out of the socket. The arms should not be bent or have been welded or braced. Make sure the front lift arm attaching pins in the lower axle housing are tight and are not leaking oil. Turn the crank on the right hand side leveling box. It should be smooth and the shaft should not wobble. Look at the upper lift arms. There should be no bends or welds there, either. Go to the right side of the rear housing and remove the dipstick in the gear oil/hydraulic reservoir. It should appear clean and not a milky tan. This is a common place for moisture to collect and if you buy the tractor you will want to change the gear oil soon regardless of it's appearance now. It will, however, give you an indication of the previous owners maintenance (or lack of). Be sure to look under the tractor from front to rear. You never know what surprises you might find in the way of previous repairs, etc.
    Now that you,ve done the visual inspection and rated what you've found (plus and minus) it's time to start the engine. It should turn over briskly, with no groaning, dragging or grinding noises. The engine should start easily. Check the oil pressure. It should be 25 to 45 psi cold. Any less is a little low and a higher pressure means someone has put a heavier spring in the relief valve in a misguided attempt to raise the low oil pressure readings when the engine is hot (it doesn't work that way but people keep trying it). Listen for knocks or other abnormal noises. Carefully open the radiator cap and check the flow. It should be moving a lot of water through there (unless it has a tight thermostat in which case you need to look in there after it has warmed up). Rev the engine and check for smoke coming out the back. Blue smoke means it's burning oil, indicating worn rings. Black smoke means it is running too rich, which usually indicates a carburetor problem. A white smoke can mean the engine is burning coolant from a blown head gasket or cracked head. Check for blow-by coming from the oil filler/breather cap. If blue smoke is puffing out of there, the rings are badly worn. Let the engine idle down to a low rpm. Listen carefully. Abnormal noises or misses or pops from bad valves should tend to be more noticeable at a slow idle. It should run and idle smoothly if it's in good shape. Watch the oil pressure as the engine warms up. It should not drop below 20 to 25 psi hot if everything is in good shape. Less than 20 psi at slow idle when hot indicates that wear in the main/rod bearings and/or oil pump is becoming excessive. That is not to say the tractor won't continue to run ok with a lower oil pressure but it is an indication that something is worn. Check the ammeter. While running, you should see between one and 10 amps on the "+" side, indicating that the generator is charging. Depress the clutch then let it back out (shifter still in neutral). Listen for noises from the throwout bearing and bearing noises in the transmission. Depress the clutch pedal and engage the PTO. Let the clutch back out. Engaging the PTO should not create any new noises from the hydraulic pump or PTO shaft bearings. Check that the PTO is in fact turning. Raise the quadrant control lever to raise the rear lift arms. They should move quickly and smoothly all the way to the top (top position will have the eyes in the outer ends of the lower lift arms around 3 feet from the ground). It's best to have a load on the lift arms for testing such as a heavy rear blade or a mower. If nothing is available, you or someone else should stand on the rear lift arms (hold on to the fenders). Raise and lower the lift a few times. It should be smooth and not have an excessive amount of "knocking" coming from the pump area. A knocking sound indicates wear in the eccentric bushings that drive the pistons in the pump. Most will have some noise, but it should not be excessive. If the lift is jerky coming up, there could be a bad or stuck valve in the pump. Raise the lift to the top position (with load) and disengage the PTO. The lift should hold the load in the up position for 20 minutes or longer without drifting down. Less than 20 minutes can indicate worn rings or a scored lift cylinder. A really tight system will hold the load up overnight with little drift.
    Time to go for a ride. Depress the clutch and shift into second gear. There should be no grinding as the shifter moves. If there is, and if the free play in the clutch pedal is adjusted correctly (3/4"), then the clutch disk is probably sticking to the flywheel. This can indicate that the front seal in the transmision pilot shaft is leaking gear lube onto the clutch disk. Slowly let the clutch pedal out. The clutch should engage smoothly with no grabbing. A grabbing or a shuddering motion also indicates gear lube has leaked onto the clutch disk. Pull the throttle to increase engine speed. The engine should respond quickly and pull smoothly up the maximum rpm then the governor should level it out. Look back for signs of smoke behind you. Try the brakes. Pressure on the brake pedals should make the brakes try to slow the tractor. Stop and try all the other gears one at a time. Taking off at a fast idle in 4th gear should tell you if the clutch is slipping. Pull the throttle wide open in 4th gear. Again, it should accelerate smoothly and then level out. Check for smoke again. Notice how the tractor steers. It should not be wobbling, or wandering and should respond to small changes in the steering wheel position. Push in the clutch and hit the brakes. You should be able to lock the rear wheels if the brakes are good. If standing on the brake pedals barely slows the tractor, you likely have gear lube on the brake shoes from leaking seals and will need new axle seals and brake shoes.
    By now you should have a pretty good idea of the condition of the tractor overall. It won't be perfect. It's 50+ years old and probably has worked hard all its life. Add the positives and the negatives and consider the asking price. If there are too many negatives, keep looking. Anything can be fixed with enough time and money, but you may be ahead in the long run to pay more for a tractor that's in good shape to start with than to buy a rough one and spend a fortune on it to repair everything that's worn out. I certainly haven't covered everything, but these are the basics. If you are not familiar with tractors, old cars or mechanical equipment in general, consider taking a friend who is or even paying a mechanic to go along with you and look the tractor over before you buy. It could save you a lot of money and headaches. Good luck!
  5. OK, I found one that looks darn good, converted to 12 V, new alternator and many new hoses, wires all throught eh thing, hardly any rust on the steel hood so that tells me its been barned or stored inside and taken well care of. It has a 3 pt hitch, comes with a straight blade, front end loader and a 5 ft bush hog for 2800 bucks, it starts like a champ and the steering seemed pretty tight, good tires on the rear, minimal leakage and those were all on the ball joints. its the original front end loader and it has a small bucket, ( trip Bucket) which all seems to work well. I am bringing one of my farmer friends up to look at it again tonight.

    What will i be using it for?? Mostly to bush hog the new place I just bought (11.5 acres) about 7 acres in a hay field, 2.5 acres in light woods where I will bush hog around that to clean it up and the rest will be done by yard riding mower. Wife is into horses so the bucket will mostly be to move manure and mulch etc. so I dont expect too much heavy work where I need to steer. I might add that my mechinic brother in law already told me he is willing to add the Power assist steering module that is available in aftermarket form.
    The straight blade I can use to level the gravel drive, and push those many 2" snow falls we get off the asphalt part of the driveway.

    Any other issues I should look at, tonight Ill be checking brakes out and have buddy drive it around and see what he thinks since he is the tractor expert, has rebuilt a dozen as restored and resells them. it is a flat head and doesnt smoke at all, it really was in much better shape then I expected.

    I was shopping around and there are enough parts on ebay to build this tractor from scratch ( 36 pages) and the front end loader is going for about 1400, the new bush hog is about 400 and the straight blade is about 400 sothere is 2200 worth of accessories alone so I figure its a pretty good deal.

  6. Lewis


    Net..that was one awesome tutorial on Ford Tractors!
  7. Folks, thanks for all the input, as it turns out, I took my farmer buddy with me and gave me the proverbial thumbs down when the Oil pressure was at 15 PSI and after running for 15 minutes dropped to 8-10 PSI, all other things were in pretty good shape, it turns out this was listed as a 8N but in reality was a 1949 9N with Sherman Trans. I might add the small scoop was ok but with this style of tractor the PTO, it only ran when running and stopped when the clutch was in, I might add the Hydraulics controls only allowed you to either run the front lift bucket or the back but not both at the same time, that is a problem since the knobs were clunky and under the seat so you were flipping this lever all over the place and either the lift would work, or the blade would go up and down. I found this not user friendly at all. Last thing that was weird was the left foot panel had the left brake and the clutch, while the right had only the right brake. Anyways, we opted to pass on this one and look for something a little more modern with hopefully hydrostatic or power steering. My buddy goes to the tractor auctions every month and Ill be tagging along with him to see what i end up with, Luckily Im in no hurry. Again, I thank you all for the valuable input, I knew someone on here had to have experience with a 8 or 9N tractor!!

    Ill advise what I end up getting when I get it.
    Any makes and models anyone would suggest?
    Needs to be less then 5K, from 28-50 HP
    Prefereably a little more modern then the tractors from the early 50's for convienience sake.
    Lastly, in very good working order!

    Cheers, Salmonid
  8. I won't recommend any specific brand, because almost all will serve you well. It sounds like your buddy will be a lot of help choosing one in good working order. With only 11.5 acres, I wouldn't look at any of the bigger tractors, as you'll be paying for that extra horsepower that you don't need. We've farmed 130 acres for years with our Ford 3000 and it's does just fine. There are times when I could use a bigger tractor, but I do enormous amounts of bush hogging and it just takes forever it seems. There are some lesser known tractors out these days that are actually good equipment, but MUCH less expensive than the bigger brands. You could probably get what you need for 5K, new. The only thing that may push the price over your limit would be a front end loader, if you decide you need one. We've never had one and never really needed one, but I admit they would come in handy at times. Good luck in your search.
  9. M.Magis gave you some pretty good advice. I too own a Ford 3000 D and farm 90 acres with it. I use to have an 8n for pulling hay wagons and manure spreaders around. On the 8n you have to have an override on the pto shaft or it will push you over the hill and get you in big trouble. Enough said about the 8N, after all, they were the mule's replacment. Stick with a Ford 2000, 3000, 2600, 3600 or a MF 135 or 165.

  10. gonefishin'

    gonefishin' Lifestyle Farmer

    I guess all I can do is tell you what I did. My wife has horses and we have 5 acres. I needed a front end loader and a mower.

    My neighbor tried to talk me into a ford 8/9n.(He has one) I watched him work on his and realized the last thing I needed was more work and more expense.

    I weighed my needs and my options and did something I didn't think I would do. I bit the bullet and bought a John Deere 2214 with loader and 62" belly mower. 4 wheel drive, power steering, 3point hitch, hydrostatic drive, financing and a cup holder. It is truly the best tool I have ever owned.

    J.D. Equipment in Lancaster. They have a store in Ashville too.

    Hope this helps. Good luck. I can get you a number of a guy locally who deals in these older tractors if you are interested.
  11. No doubt the JD is one of the best. Another thing about the front bucket, you have to have 4WD because there is no traction on the rear tires when you have a load in the buckett. I have hung a bush hog off the back for weight but it is very hard to meneuver around in the stalls when you are cleaning out the manure. I bought a Bob Cat for cleaning the barns and moving round bales.