NAA – And a Member of the Family

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By Dennis Hamblin. Published in the N-News summer issue, July-August 2017, Volume 32 Number 3

Dennis Hamblin's NAA

I have enjoyed the N-News for several years. I have noticed that I rarely see an article from Texas. I was raised in Oklahoma, but have lived in Texas since my separation from the service in 1975. I guess you would classify me as a city boy, but, thanks to my Dad, I have worked with tractors my whole life. You can hardly drive a mile in any direction around here without seeing a Ford N-series tractor. I have seen a few old timers that still plow their small acreages with them. The most common use for these old Fords down here seems to be running a brush hog and mowing pastures and small acreages.

My NAA story goes like this: my wife and I moved to a small piece of property outside of Dallas in 1990. My dad said that I needed a tractor to maintain the place, so we started the search. We soon found a mechanically restored NAA Golden Jubilee sitting next to a Ford 601 Workmaster along the roadside. The Jubilee was painted all one color and looked more like an Allis Chalmers. We pooled our money and bought it. It came with a box blade and a bush hog.

We started a project building a wood fence for my horses, digging the holes with a manual posthole digger. Given the Texas cotton field gumbo, this quickly proved futile. We soon became the proud owners of a 3-point hitch post hole digger for the Jubilee. That one implement proved to be a life- saver.

Over the years, that Jubilee and I have mowed a lot of pasture and dug a lot of post holes for neighbors. In May 2012, I decided to retire my faithful Jubilee from service and restore it to its original state as much as possible. The only change I had made over the years was to convert it to 12-volts.

This was my first restoration, so I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I had not read any restoration books or watched any videos. That was probably a good thing or it might still be in its work clothes today. I started by spraying down the whole thing with degreaser and then power washed the tractor.

Dennis Hamblin starts the breakdown of his NAA.

Starting the breakdown.

Being my first restoration and on a budget, I did all the work myself, including the painting with brush and shaker cans. My biggest surprise was how inadequate the power washing was. It seems there is no way to get all of that baked on oily dirt off, especially around bolt/nut heads and on the bottom side of the tractor. Consequently, there was a lot of meticulous scraping with a small flat tip screwdriver, followed by brass bristle toothbrushes and wire brush on a Dremel tool. Larger areas and parts were brushed with a bigger wire brush and powered wire brush wheel. Needless to say, I would starve to death if I did restorations for a living. I have great respect for those in the profession

Hamblin's tools.

The collection of tools the author got to be very familiar with!

Another problem was removing the wheel hub in order to replace the outer oil seal that was leaking. I was told that all you had to do was get a good pry on it and give it a lick with a hammer and it would pop loose. That didn’t happen. The hub had probably been in place since 1953. I acquired a large puller from a friend and off it came. I took pictures as the dismantling process began so I could remember how to put things back together. Fortunately, the engine did not require an overhaul, so most of the work was on tune-up parts and leaking gasket replacements.

Though there was no problem with parts like the radiator and water pump, I elected to replace them with new ones, since I had it torn down this far and wanted it to be a good looking restoration. I replaced the brake shoes, tie rod ends, battery box, and anything else to tighten it up, stop leaks, and make it like new again.

Hamblin brake parts

Working though the brake issues.

I became good friends with a brass bristled tooth brush for cleaning baked-on grease and dirt from around bolt heads and crevices. Parts were removed, hung up all over my barn for spray painting.

I didn’t do any professional painting on this restoration. The sheet metal was in such good shape, sanding and taping were all that was needed to do the painting with rattle cans.

Hamblin's spray-painted parts

Just some of the parts that were laying all over the place during the painting process.

People that have seen the paint job could hardly believe it. I found a knowledgeable company in Hico, Texas that knew the correct shades of gray and red. I sprayed what I could and painted by brush the undersides and cast parts.

Hamblin's NAA rear tire masked for painting.

Masking the rear tire for a second coat of paint.

Thirteen months later, my Jubilee was finished. The crowning piece was mounting a new Golden Jubilee Medallion. I also restored a Dearborn Model 10 two bottom plow.

My dad passed away in 2002. I wish he could have seen our 1990 acquisition now. I show my prized Jubilee at tractor shows in the area and have great fun telling (and listening to) stories about growing up with these great vintage Fords. I am very proud of this tractor and its contribution to farming history. My daughter, Kimberly, now married, has always loved to drive this tractor. It will probably be hers some day.

Dennis Hamblin

Dennis and the NAA.

My next project is a 1952 8N six cylinder Funk conversion. Do you think Henry Ford every envisioned these tractors still being used 65 years later?

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A 2N Lives in Brooklyn

A Son Realizes the Importance of Tractors, Time Passing and the Connection to his Father.

By Andrew Sarno. Published in the N-News Winter issue, January-February-March Volume 32 Number 1

Andrew Sarno's 2N in Brooklyn

Andrew Sarno’s 2N in Brooklyn.

When I was a kid, we spent the last two weeks of every summer in Waldoboro, Maine. This was my favorite part of summer vacation. In late August, we would all cram into our tiny sedan and drive six hours from Brooklyn, New York. The car ride was a little rough, but once we got there, I was in heaven. I loved swimming in the cold Atlantic, building sand castles, catching crabs and eating as much fried food and ice cream as I could fit into my adolescent body. I never wanted it to end.

My dad with his pride and joy.

My dad with his pride and joy.

Unlike Brooklyn, everything in Maine is spread out, so a good portion of our trip was spent driving around rural parts of “vacationland.” Our annual tradition was to drive from Waldoboro to the Union Farm equipment store outside of Rockport to look at farm equipment. My father loved to slowly walk up and down the aisles of tractors, combine harvesters and plows. He would imagine how different his life would have been had he grown up in the country instead of the city. My brother and I would run around in the muddy lot and throw rocks at each other. I remember times when the mud was so thick, my father would have to come over and pull me out of my boots.

I don’t think I could have been any less interested in tractors. At some point during my father’s tractor meditation session, he would grab a hold of one of us and encourage us to admire the beauty of the machines. I just couldn’t see it. I thought tractors were noisy and slow and I was more interested in things like computers and Game Boys.

During one particular farm equipment pilgrimage, my father announced that he was buying a tractor. He brought us over to this giant, rusty piece of iron with cracked rubber tires and declared that we were taking this beast back to Brooklyn with us. He told us that it was a 1946 Ford 2N tractor. My mother was quiet. It was obvious that they had already discussed this purchase and she was quite uncertain about it. I was shocked. I was aware of his infatuation with tractors, but I thought he would at least buy a new one. It just didn’t make any sense to me.

After some more staring, my father went inside the store to “square away” with the man and we headed out for the day. Dad told us he was going to rent a U-Haul and drive the monster into the back of the truck. He’d tie it up and we’d drive it home on Saturday. I had immediately lost interest in the tractor until I discovered that there was a possibility that I could ride home in the truck with him.

We made it home without a hitch and for years my father tinkered and toyed with the tractor until he had fully restored it. He even shipped the engine out to Indiana to get the engine block planed. He was proud of his tractor and he tried to get me interested in it. Sadly, I just never could. I just didn’t see the point to owning a thing like this. I understood that it was historic, but why not a Chevy Nova or a Mustang? At least those have a roof and they’re fast. I would argue with him about how “uncool” the tractor was and he would tell me that someday I would understand.

It took a long time. Nearly twenty years after inheriting the tractor, I finally understand. During those twenty years, I lost friends and family, graduated from college, got married and started a family of my own. In realizing how quickly time passes, I now have an appreciation for things from the past that move more slowly. My son and daughter turned two and four in December, and I feel like they were just born.

The author with his daughter Ellie.

The author with his daughter Ellie.

I see gray hairs pushing through on the sides of my head and I find myself searching for things that make time slow down. Knowing this isn’t possible, keeping a piece of history seems like the next best thing. I now understand why my dad bought his tractor and I have a greater appreciation for his love for his machine.

 

tractor tattoo

To honor the tractor and my father, I got a tattoo on the side of my arm.

Like most kids, I only wanted things that were “cool,” that is, sleek and new. I now know that cool quickly becomes “uncool” and sleek goes out of style and everything that is new eventually gets old. Technology changes so quickly and unlike modern technology, my dad’s tractor is timeless. It is a functioning piece of history that can still hold its own even at seventy years of age. Feeling old at times myself, I can now appreciate the simplicity of this machine. I believe that it represents a time when industriousness, determination and virility were prized aspects of a person’s character. For my dad, this tractor represented those traits. He is a man who identifies himself by the hard work he has done and by the things that he has built that will stand the test of time.

The tractor is my father and my father is the tractor.
Sarno's 2N on a Brooklyn street

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1952 8N: er’ah, maybe really , 1950!

Jeff Johnson's 1952 8N

By Jeff Johnson. Published in the N-News Autumn issue, Oct-Nov-Dec Year, Volume 31 Number 3 In 1997, my wife and I decided to move out of the suburbs and build a house on the old family farm in central Indiana. I asked my uncle whether I could get by with an overgrown lawn and garden tractor or if I needed something bigger. The man with the John Deere 4430 said, “You need more tractor than that. You need a Super A or an 8N. A lawn and garden tractor won’t hold up.” Well, I commenced to studying the matter and soon found the 8N to be the tractor of choice. At the time, prices in our area were high, and … Continue reading

1954 NAA

Wayne Musser's NAA 1954

By Wayne Musser. Published in the Summer N-News issue, July-August-September 2016 Volume 31 Number 3 Like many N-News readers, I spent my youth on tractors. Much of that time was spent on my grandfather’s farm in central Pennsylvania. My grandfather started farming with horses, and then he progressed to a Farmall F-14 tractor, then to a Ford 8N. He was so impressed with the 8N, he purchased a second one. After a few years of farming with the Ns, he traded one for a used 1954 NAA. The two year old NAA showed an improvement over the 8N with more horsepower and a Sherman Over/Under transmission that provided twelve forward speeds and three reverse speeds. It was also equipped with … Continue reading

Did you receive your current Summer Issue?

The summer issue of the N-News Magazine should be in your mailbox by now. Read Robbie Tonneberger’s fond recollection of farming with his family’s 8N, Jubilee and 971, and his barn-building adventure with his beloved 1959 881. Steve Dabrowski demystifies the replacement of a steering sector gear with his illustrated how-to. And Bob Nelson waxes poetic about rediscovering his beloved childhood 1948 8N after too much time apart. And Wayne Musser takes a look at his 1954 NAA. You’ll also find reader stories, book reviews, the latest tractor trader and classifieds, and enough display ads to help you get your vintage Ford back in the field. Didn’t get your summer issue? Subscribe or renew today!

Signs of Spring

By George Blosser. Growing up on our family ranch in California, I learned to drive our family’s 2N Ford tractor at a very young age. Some 55 years later I tried to locate our original family tractor by going to its last know owner and ask, “Whatever happened to our family’s 2N?” Regrettably no one knew the answer. I gave up looking for that one and started a search for an 8N. I located one in the State of Arkansas and purchased the tractor. A restoration process was immediately started to return the tractor to its original condition, as when delivered from the factory in 1952. Today the 8N is officially retired from farm work and is used primarily as … Continue reading

Thrift: Getting By & Making the Most of What You Have

Gardner Waldeier's Ford 641 under the shed

By Gardner Waldeier. Published in the Winter N-News issue Jan-Feb-March 2016, Volume 31 Number 1 Thrift. Making due with what is available is paramount these days. In taking over the 1799 farmhouse where I grew up, I’m finding no lack of ways to fill the short winter days in Maine. I built a lean-to style pole barn off the end of the house recently and did the whole project for around ten dollars. I needed a good dry place to keep my tractor and set to making that thought a reality.

A Couple of Ns and a Trailer

Bill Wells and son Peter

My dad, Bill Wells, had a desk job in the Boston financial district. Then in 1936, mom and dad bought an old dairy farm in Massachusetts. But dad was not interested in dairy barn hook ups – he wanted to raise poultry! And we needed a tractor. Dad found a used 9N and a new farm trailer. It was on the N that I had my first driving lesson at age eleven! When he retired, he moved to a family farm in New Hampshire and another 8N took over the mowing work. Here’s our story. Continue reading

EZ Front Weights

Mowing season comes early in my part of Florida. But when I get my mower raised, the front end gets light and the front wheels come off the loading ramps! I needed some weight up front but I checked the tractor budget: there wasn’t much money for weights. My answer: cement weights. Luckily I had around the shop an old animal feed tub! . I thought, “Wow, that would make a nice round weight!” Continue reading

Tractors Are Good For the Soul!

Lauran Paine

Our tractor wasn’t just about work on the farm. It was about hayrides and picnics, too. I can’t think of those things and not smile. Now I use it for parades and teaching the grandkids about old tractors. But I recently restored my harrow – a Dearborn-Towner Model 11-29 – and now when I drive my tractor, the sights, sounds, vibration and even the rattle of the harrow take me right back to 1961. “Magical,” I say. “Old tractors are good for the soul!” Continue reading