(This article originally appeared in Volume 28 Number 2, Spring 2013) 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. “In 1999, I found a 1951 8N and it needed everything. I got it fixed up and worked it pretty hard. Then I retired in 2007 and bought a 9N tractor from an older gentleman who had owned it for over 30 years.” Another N-project for Guy!
By Guy Silva
The 9N was always kept in a barn and was used to cut just two acres of lawn. The seller told me that he was the second owner and that the original owner had kept it in a barn as well. This “new” tractor came with a finish mower, which I sold. I used the money for a gas tank, radiator and a battery. I swapped the turf tires for a pair of ag tires. There were a couple of problems with the tractor. It had five coats of paint and no brakes. The guy I bought it from didn’t tell me about the brake issue until I drove it off his trailer and almost into my truck! Overall, it ran well, the hydraulics worked and it didn’t smoke. The wiring was a mess with an older 12-volt conversion and it started hard. I’m lucky to have good friends who know old motors and how to paint and weld and provide free labor. We started with the brakes. The seals were tricky, although not too bad.
We discovered that it was starting hard because the butterfly for the choke was missing. Fortunately, I was able to find one in a box of parts I had laying around. Once it was installed, it started right up with no issues.
Over time I lost interest in the project until I was away at hunting camp in Canada and saw a 9N there in the middle of the woods (N-News Volume 27 Number 3, Summer 2012 page 17). That re-inspired me to get back to work on my own 9N.
It was time for the total teardown, which went well with no broken bolts. We found the original color under the specification plate and were able to color match it from that.
I sent the sheet metal off to a sandblaster and when it came back, my friend Pete painted it. While that was getting done, another friend, Lester, helped me pull the head, clean out the carbon and replace the water pump. We also updated the 12-volt system and put in all new wires.
We put the tractor back together to make sure there were no more mechanical problems, then we stripped the whole tractor down again, sat it on stands and cleaned everything one more time. Pete painted the rest of the tractor. When we finally put it back together, it all went great and I showed it at the 20 Lakes Antique Engine and Tractor Club, where I am a member.
I eventually sold the 1951 8N to a friend and bought a 1950 to restore. Someday, I would like to find a 2N to restore as well. My local tractor group, in Harrison, MI, is only two miles from home, so there is always someone around to talk tractors.