1952 8N: er’ah, maybe really , 1950!

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By Jeff Johnson. Published in the N-News Autumn issue, Oct-Nov-Dec Year, Volume 31 Number 3

Jeff Johnson's 1952 8NIn 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.”

Jeff Johnson's 1952 8N grille

A rough Bondo job, paint drips and rust. Before resto!

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 $3300 bought me a running 1952 Ford 8N tractor with all the parts present, but not a lot more. The bodywork and paint job were adequate for a work tractor, but it wasn’t pretty and the top half of the bumper had been sawn off at some point in time.

I immediately pressed the tractor into service, mowing the property and building a gravel driveway along the 1100′ path to the building site.

During the first winter, I discovered that the mismatched and worn-out rear tires were inadequate for removing any significant snowfall, so I replaced the tires and had them filled with calcium chloride. Wow, what a difference! I could clear snow from the driveway in two passes, using 2nd gear, sometimes 3rd.

In 2004, I realized that the tractor really didn’t have the power it should. I checked the cylinder pressures. They varied from each other fairly dramatically, and I had also been having problems with the exhaust manifold gasket burning out on the rear cylinder, due to pitting of the block. It was time for major work.

Fortunately, the premier N-Complete tractor shop in Wilkinson, Indiana was less than 30 minutes away from my home, so I loaded the tractor onto a trailer and dropped it off for a complete engine rebuild. The results were dramatic, with the tractor seeming to have suddenly doubled in power. I knew for the first time how much power that 8N was really supposed to have. Happy with the results, I kept on mowing, plowing, scooping and hauling the years away with the increasingly rusty old Ford. As I replaced or adjusted more parts (or figured out what they did), it began to dawn on me how much tractor I had gotten for my money, considering the prices of new ones.

The winter of 2013-2014 brought lots of heavy snow to central Indiana, and my usually trusty Ford gave me fits with both cranking and staying running. In the end, I replaced the starter drive, which fixed the starting problem, and I bought a brand new carburetor to replace the old one I had already rebuilt twice. Once again, the tractor started and ran fantastic. With so much of the tractor rebuilt and in great shape mechanically, it seemed a shame to have it appear so dilapidated. I decided it was finally time to freshen up the looks.

Jeff Johnson's 1952 8N hoodWith the last snow just gone, I pulled the sheet metal off the tractor and hauled it down to my workshop. Under the unforgiving workshop lights, it looked even worse. The previous owner had done some truly poor bodywork with his can of Bondo, as evidenced by the condition of the grill (above).

That was also when I discovered that the battery door was not a factory original, but a poorly made sheet metal substitute that wasn’t even drilled on center. I’d never really looked at it closely before – I would just hop on the tractor and use it. The rest of the hood had a slightly better Bondo job, but the stamped “Ford” logos on the hood and fenders were painted crudely.

I sanded out the existing Bondo on all the sheet metal to smooth things out, then sprayed on Rustoleum’s “Painter’s Touch” 2X paint + primer in winter gray. I know you purists are groaning right now, because the colors aren’t true, but the results were great in the end.

Jeff Johnson's 1952 8N profileSeeing the sheet metal looking so nice made the rest of the tractor look that much worse. Rustoleum had another paint + primer color called Apple Red, so I tried it out on the front bumper I had just sanded out. I realized at that point I had to paint the whole tractor, including the wheels.

As I degreased and lightly sanded the frame, I found the serial number – 8N 279422. I thought, “Hey wait – that’s a 1950 serial number!” So I had actually purchased a 1950, despite the previous owner’s claim. Ah, ignorance is bliss, and I didn’t know better at the time. After the painting job was complete, I finally had a tractor whose looks matched the mechanical condition of the tractor.

The first thing I did after completing the paint job? Why, I hooked up the mower deck to the 3-point hitch and started mowing weeds on the road frontage, of course!
Jeff Johnson's 1952 8N in the field

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1954 NAA

By Wayne Musser. Published in the Summer N-News issue, July-August-September 2016 Volume 31 Number 3

Wayne Musser's NAA 1954

Wayne Musser’s beautiful NAA 1954 newly restored. The overhaul boosted the NAA’s horsepower by 18%!

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 the live PTO option.

Wayne Musser's NAA 1954

The rear view of Wayne Musser’s 1954 NAA with the live PTO (which his family used for hay bailing).

Wayne Musser's 1954 NAA PTO lever

Live PTO lever (lower left), cup holder and an extra handle on the fender.

When I was about twelve years old, I learned to drive the tractors. I was doubly blessed in that both of my grandfathers were dairy farmers, so when one grandfather didn’t need me to help put hay away, the other one did. My grandfather chose the NAA with live PTO for hay baling.

The live PTO worked fairly well, but it didn’t always engage smoothly. My job was to stack the hay on the wagon. With the erratic engagement of the PTO, I sometimes found myself sitting down faster than I planned. My second cousin was stacking hay on the top of the hay wagon when he suddenly found himself on the ground after somersaulting off the back of the wagon!

Musser's NAA 1954 PTO operatiing sticker

Pay attention!

When my grandfather died, my father took over the farm. He worked as an automotive technician during the day and farmed the sixty acres at night, growing corn and oats. I guess you could call him a “heavy hobby farmer.”

Wayne Musser's dad atop the 1954 NAA

The author’s father, Ralph Musser, planting corn circa 1998.

When my father died, my mother decided to keep the tractors in the family rather than sell them. She divided the Ford tractors among my sisters and myself. My father had acquired the 1954 NAA, a 1953 Jubilee and a 1958 Ford 800 series. Since I am the oldest in the family, I had first choice of the tractors. I chose the 1954 NAA because it had belonged to both my father and grandfather.

Last winter, I restored the NAA. I ordered the power pack overhaul kit which provided the tractor with approximately 18% more horsepower for a total of almost 35 horsepower. I installed new axle seals, brakes, clutch, pressure plate, and new tires.

Wayne Musser's NAA 1954 in the shop

At the beginning of the restoration process.

The tires are loaded with a methanol mixture and there are also wheel weights on the inside of the rim. We found that with our clay soil, plowing with any of these Fords required extra weight. I chose Firestone 13.6×28 6-ply SAT 11 23 Super All Tractor tires. They certainly weren’t the cheapest, but they work well for us. This tractor has proved very reliable over the years and I hope it will continue to provide reliable service for the next generation.

Wayne Musser's 1954 NAA with wheel weights.

Inner wheel weight and trailer plug.

Because I occasionally pull a trailer on the road with this tractor, I added a set of flashers on top of the fenders and also a trailer plug to the rear fender to plug in the lights on the trailer.

I also added an extra knob on the left hand fender to help me get on and off (see the top left image). I didn’t drill any extra holes, I just used the fender skin bolt holes that were already there.

Wayne Musser's 1954 NAA front view

Wayne Musser’s 1954 NAA front view post-restoration. Not only does it work harder – it looks as good as new too!

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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!

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