A Couple of Ns and a Trailer


By Peter Wells. Published in the Spring N-News issue, April 2015, Volume 30 Number 2

Bill Wells and son Peter

Author Peter Wells with his son Peter Jr. at Peter’s father’s farm in Harrisville, NH from the Summer of 1967.

My dad, Bill Wells, had a desk job in the Boston financial district. But, in 1936, when I was only two and my sister four, my dad and mom bought an old dairy farm in Millis, Massachusetts, about a 45-minute train or car commute from Boston. Dad was not interested in dairy barn hook ups as he wanted to raise poultry – and this farm had hen houses! He’d owned his first Silver Laced Wyandottes show birds at age eleven.

bill-wellsOn December 7, 1941, with war declared on the Axis Powers, peacetime job and farm plans were put on hold for the duration of the war. The farm was rented out, and our family transferred to Washington, DC, where my dad was assigned to the Navy Department (Marine Corps Ordnance). Dad was a Navy Lt.j.g, assisting his boss, a Marine Corps Major.

Mustered out a Lt. Cmdr. in late 1945, he was eager to return to work in Boston and to develop his ideas for the farm. He was, however, deeply saddened by the battle death of his former boss, Major Orison, who had volunteered for duty in the Pacific theater of operations later in the war.

Pre-war, the farm had a 1930 Ford Model A pickup truck, but that had been sold to a neighbor in 1942. Now, we needed a tractor, because the farm would be expanding in acreage and would include Aberdeen Angus cattle as well as Yorkshire pigs and poultry.


The 9N and line spreader at Mills Farm, MA in 1949.

Dad found a used 9N (in photo at right) and bought a brand new farm trailer. I sure missed the Model A pickup, but I got to like the 9N. It was on the N that I had my first driving lesson at age eleven.

With the changeover from loose hay to baled hay, we needed another tractor. Dad purchased the 8N new in 1949. He got it from the Fisk Alden dealership in Cambridge, MA, and we used it on the farm in Massachusetts. The dealer installed a Dearborn mid-mount mower on the tractor and it also worked with a Dearborn side delivery rake, a converted horse-drawn hay tedder, and an IH baler.

1949 8N and trailer

The 1949 8N, original trailer and a neighbor at the family farm in Millis, Massachusetts in 1959.

We used the trailer for all kinds of farm chores – but a flat bed truck was eventually needed for haying purposes – a 1936 Indiana. Our older 9N played a supporting role.


The 1936 Indiana.

When my father retired from business, he moved full-time to a family farm in New Hampshire and used the tractor for trailer work in warm months and snow plowing in cold months. Another 8N (1948) took over the mowing work. The snow plowing was done with a straight blade, and I have rehabilitated that plow rig, and acquired a Dearborn V-plow as well. I’ve gotten the hydraulic/cable system working fairly quickly now. The V-plow mounting had to be adapted to the old straight plow’s undercarriage frame. Now both plows can be quickly switched as conditions require.

When the 1949 8N crankshaft quit three years ago (on the last day of snow plowing), I decided it would be a good idea to rebuild the old trailer, too. So that became another project.

The 1949 8N and trailer at my construction site for a new barn in 1999 in Peterborough, NH.

The 1949 8N and trailer at my construction site for a new barn in 1999 in Peterborough, NH.

The rotted wood body was stripped off the rusty steel frame. The tongue had a twist that was straightened and the chassis was sandblasted, painted and made ready for framing a new body. I did not want to duplicate the original body since stake body sides are usually removed, stored and often forgotten. Of course the old mismatched tires had to go, although, amazingly we’d never had to put air in them over many years. The new bed and sides were made from pressure-treated wood with non-corrosive fasteners.

8N and trailer

The original trailer, now painted and rebuilt with a pressure-treated deck, sides and utility box, pulled by the 8N.

I added a toolbox for chainsaw files and oil, etc. The box incorporates some old one-inch boards salvaged from a house carpentry job. The tailgate is the original that my dad used. The license plate should say 1948 or 1949 – not 1977. I’ll have do something about that down the road. I put reflectors on the trailer only for driveway visibility – not for road use.

EZ Front Weights

Hand-cast front weights

Hand-cast front weights painted and in place on Chris Britton’s Ford 4600.

By Chris Britton. Published in the Spring N-News issue, April-May-June Volume 30 Number 2

Mowing season comes early in my part of Florida. Weeds will be tall and there will be a lot of work to do. I had picked up a 1978 Ford 4600 a few years ago and have been itching to use its 6′ mower to do some trimming through trails and close mowing around trees. The problem was the front end would get very light with the mower raised up to get the rig loaded onto my trailer. So light, in fact, that the front wheels came off the ramps while I was half way up the ramps – not a very good feeling.

I knew I needed some weight up front and so I checked the tractor budget. There wasn’t much money available. The dealer wanted about $2.50 per pound for cast iron weights and I had been unable to find any garage sale weights that I could adapt. My next thought went back to how I solved my rear weight problem with my loader tractor – cement weights.

Since my tractor has a homemade heavy angle iron bumper, I decided to make them hang from it by creating a form inside the tub so the weight would fit up to the face of the bumper and hang mostly under it.

weights hangin from the tractor bumper

Homemade cast weights specially designed to hang from the 4600 bumper.

I started thinking about how to form removable front weights and while looking around the shop, found an old deep style animal feed tub. I thought, “Wow, that would make a nice round weight.”  I dug a piece of Styrofoam out of the trash that had come fitted around some shop tool. Using a long razor knife, I cut a corner out of it and beveled the edges where it would meet the pan.

I also drilled a hole in the foam to allow the shank of a bolt to stick into the open area. I then used duct tape to tape the foam into the pan so it wouldn’t leak concrete around the foam.

form that casts the bumpe-rmounted weight.

The form pan used to cast the weight, with the styrofoam and bolt in place.

I used a long carriage bolt that had a slightly rounded off shoulder on it as the mounting stud. I wrapped a strip of tape on the threads to prevent any concrete from traveling between the foam and bolt. I embedded some heavy brace and fence wire into the form about half way through the pour. I used thin gauge wire from the pan edge to the embedded wire to hold it midway through the concrete instead of settling to the bottom.

For my test piece, I used a rag with diesel on it and rubbed it on the pan – that was the release agent so the concrete would pop out!

the cast bumper

The cast weight with bolt protruding. The diesel made for a handy release agent!

The results were much better than expected! I then measured and drilled my bumper and hung a couple on and painted them black to match. (See the top photo.)

EZ weight mounted

EZ Front weight as mounted on the bumper.

On subsequent pours, I used spray engine cleaner as the release agent since it was easier to apply and then used reclaimed fender bolts as the mounting studs. Dumping the forms over after curing made the foam come out on the stud. All I had to do was reseat the foam in the pan with new tape and then pour another. As a side benefit, I usually have a shovel full of mix leftover after pouring, so I used a soft side rubber feed bowl to make a few small weights with wire handles. These will be good to hold down tarp corners or hold lids on garbage cans during windy days.

The total cost was $10 in concrete, some salvaged bolts, spare wire and leftover paint. It took about 10 minutes to mix the concrete, set the form and pour. Super E-Z and cheap, yet effective. Just the way I like it.

EZ weights ready for mounting

EZ weights ready for mounting – about 50lbs each. Easy!

Chris Britton is a long time contributor to the N-News Magazine specializing in technical tips, fixes, solutions and making the seemingly complex, easy!

Workers: A 9N Movin’ Feed & Snow

Daniel Howe's 1940 9N takes a breather.

In the summer of 2005, we picked up a 1940 Ford 9N to help out around our 15 acre farm. I knew we needed the tractor to carry round bales to feed our horses, but I also needed it to plow snow. Front mounted snow blades seem to be as scarce as hens teeth and they also use the 3 point arms to get their lift. I set out to design my own reliable plow. Continue reading

1969 2000


These days, Steve Domkowski makes his living as a welder/fabricator, but he comes from a long history of farming. Steve’s great-grandfather, Vincent Domkowski, moved to their home place over a hundred years ago and started a small truck farm and beef operation. Steve’s grandfather Anthony took over the operation, followed by Steve’s father, Anthony Jr. Ford tractors have always been the primary power on the farm and though Steve is not farming the home place now, he is honoring that tradition by working his way through the restoration of several Ford tractors, all of which started out on the farm or in his father’s collection. Continue reading

My 1942 9N

Steven Fairfield's 9N

The tractor is a 1942 9N, Ferguson System with a Sherman Transmission. When the 9N was launched, it became evident that a more versatile transmission would be a big improvement over the standard 3 speed. Restoring this tractor back to a more original condition began in 2003. After being torn down, the engine was rebuilt, new king pins installed, clutch, and general mechanical repairs. Continue reading

Workers: Ford-Funk Truss Boom


The poles were 6×6’s twenty feet long. The metal trusses spanned thirty feet. I was building a pole barn to house tractors and combines at a peanut farm. Most of the work I’d do myself, but Fred Catabia, a friend, volunteered to help when he had time. The first problem I needed to solve was how to set the heavy posts and install the metal trusses. Fred recalled that I had a Ford tractor with a front end loader. Continue reading

Inspired – a Lift Disc Restoration


When I received my N-News Vintage Tractor calendar last year, the picture of the 8N tractor and lift-type disc (May 2013) caught my eye. I had acquired a lift-type disc, but in very rusty and worn condition. I didn’t know anything about the disc, but I read on the metal plate that it was a Dearborn with a model number of Lift-E. As I own a 1958 Ford 861 PowerMaster, I thought this disc should be worth rebuilding and would be a good match with my Ford tractor. Continue reading

641 Diesel Workmaster


It’s always nice to have a project waiting in the wings. In the summer of 2008, I had started to work on my 740 (see Volume 26, Number 4, Autumn 2011), but I was already thinking about my next restoration project. It was during one of my web searches that I saw an ad for a 1962 Ford 601 Diesel. The tractor was at a dealership in a small town SE of Austin, TX – not far from where my son and his wife live. The asking price was a bit higher that I was prepared to pay, but on a whim, I made the call. Continue reading