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.

In The Blood DVD

Film director Sumner McKane weaves together a fascinating story of the history of logging in Maine. Using vintage footage and images, McKane offers a short history lesson of the northernmost New England logger and river man in In The Blood: Uncovering the Life, Skills & Character of the Turn of the Century Maine Lumbermen and River Drivers. 19.95. Continue reading

Harold Brock DVD

Harold Brock DVD cover

In June of 2009 I traveled to Iowa to interview Harold Brock, chief designer of the 9N tractor project. It was a little overwhelming to sit down and talk with a man who worked intimately with Henry Ford, Edsel Ford, Henry Ford II, had met Thomas Edison, Harry Ferguson and many other legends of modern invention and industry. The idea of having a tunnel back in time to talk to someone who was there, was an intriguing project to tackle. $26.95.

EZ Front Weights

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 … Continue reading

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