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.

9N-line-spreader

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.

Indiana-truck-1936

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.

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Workers: A 9N Movin’ Feed & Snow

By Daniel Howe. Published in the Winter N-News, January 2015, Volume 30 Number 1.

Daniel Howe's 1940 9N takes a breather.

Daniel Howe’s 1940 9N takes a breather. But this beauty is ready to work!

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.

Daniel Howe's 1940 9N plow armI set out to design my own reliable plow that would not rely on the rear 3-point hitch. I found a 6’ snow blade at an auction for $50. A buddy of mine gave me 20’ of 2½” drill casing. I cut the pipe in half and welded it to the plow mount. I drilled 1” holes in the end of the pipe and used 4”x1⁄2” “C” channel to make a bracket that is held on by the fender bolts under the rear axle.

The tractor had already been converted to 12-volts by a previous owner, so all I had to do was get a winch and mount it to the brush guard.

Daniel Howe's 1940 9N PTOWith a bale spear on the 3-point hitch, I could now pick up a 600 pound bale of hay and use that for counter weight while plowing the driveway and barn yard. Then I would drop the hay in the pasture to feed the horses. It has proven to be an excellent setup that has worked well for us and earned the tractor the nickname, Maude (tough old woman, strong in battle). I did have to add a set of duo grip tire chains to get through the ice and hardpack, but the plow works fabulously. Total investment was $159 and a couple hours with my mig welder and drill press.

Daniel Howe's 1940 9N at work!

Daniel Howe’s 1940 9N at work on the farm.

Daniel Howe's 1940 9N

Daniel Howe’s 1940 9N outfitted with his own reliable snow plow!

In 2012 Maude received a complete restoration. The plow setup still works amazingly well. We don’t have to haul feed in the winter anymore, so now Maude carries the front blade and a Dearborn rear blade. It is an impressive sight to watch this tractor clean out a driveway with both blades down.

The weather guru’s are predicting a hard cold winter, so we are added one piece rear wheel weights and a Sherman Hi-Torque head. If you would like me to help you build a front mount snow blade you can contact me, “Farmer Dan,” at patchofheaven@att.net.

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

How To Buy: A Ford N-Series Tractor 1939-1952

Dave Erb

(This article originally appeared in Volume 28 Number 1, Winter/January 2013) In this series of articles, N-News contributors share their lessons learned and observations in buying a used Ford tractor. Here, longtime contributor Dave Erb writes about his personal checklist for looking at a 9N, 2N or 8N to purchase. While all N models are fairly dependable, Dave says, as production continued into the fifties improvements to the tractor were undeniable. What follows are some pointers that will prove helpful for anyone pondering the purchase of one of these faithful tractors.

9N Redux

9N post-repair

Guy Silva worked for 30 years for a city water division, and over that time he ran a lot of Ford backhoes, which is how his interest in Ford tractors germinated. After working a northern Michigan property that he and his wife owned with a 1954 NAA, he sold it, but then after retirement he reconsidered. “I discovered I really missed having it around,” he says. Continue reading

A Piece of History Slips Away: Harold Brock Remembered

Portrait of Harold Brock

Harold Brock, Ford tractor icon, passed away January 2, 2011 at the age of 96 years. Harold was the engineer in charge of the design for the famous N-Series Ford tractors. Rob visited Harold Brock at his home in Waterloo, Iowa, where he sat down with Dr. Brock and led him to recall his time at Ford Motor Company and of his early life. Continue reading