Reader Send-Ins: A Seabee, an 8N & a Passion

By John Cuny. Published in the N-News spring issue, April-May-June 2020, Volume 35 Number 2

Seabee 1 John Cuny

The 8N towing the 1946 Republic Seabee

I grew up in southern California when it was bean fields, before it all became Disney Land. As a 14-year-old, I worked as a gas boy for the local seaplane company that made daily flights to Catalina Island. I was around airplanes and tugs all the time. I’m sure some of them were Fords, but I was too young to know. This experience was the impetus to become a pilot.

I was a single-minded kid and was flying by age 17.

I did some time in the service, and in my late 20’s I moved to Texas and took a job as a pilot with American Airlines. I worked for American for 30 years, retiring in 2008 after being a captain on 727s and 737s.

I acquired the old Ford 8N to help around my properties. A friend in Texas had told me about a pastor in Oklahoma who was dying of cancer and had a Ford 8N to sell. I went to go see him. He just wanted to make sure the Ford went to someone who was going to take care of it. I purchased the tractor, a bunch of implements and a trailer and brought it all back to Texas. This was 1986.

I had a few pieces of property by then. One was a horse property and the box blade was good for the driveway and the fields. Another place had lots of trees and shrubs, so the brush hog was great for that. And when not used for hard work, it was a great tug for my 1946 Republic Seabee four seater airplane. The 8N has been with me for 35 years. It has been a solid worker the whole time asking very little of me. After retiring and selling my property in Texas, I moved to the northwest.

The 8N got a full restoration in the late 1990s and is now only used as a tug. I used the N-News to help with parts for the rebuild.

I still love flying and I love the way a seaplane could get me off the beaten track. I have taken the SeaBee to the Arctic Circle and all over the United States. The plane got re-powered with a Lycoming 340hp supercharged engine. The original engine was a Franklin 210hp.

Originally the plane had a 1000lb payload and a 400-mile range. I upgraded fuel cells and basic instruments. The plane also got a 3-bladed, pitched-controlled unit, disk brakes, new glass and reinforced flooring in the cargo section.

More About the Republic Aviation Corporation

By Robert Pripps. Published in the N-News spring issue, April-May-June 2020, Volume 35 Number 2

The Republic Aviation Corporation was an aircraft manufacturer based in Farmingdale, Long Island, New York. It was originally named Seversky Aircraft Company, founded in 1931 by Russian immigrant Alexander de Seversky. The company also included talented Russian and Georgian designers Michael Gregor and Alexander Kartveli.

The company struggled and failed to gain government contracts for fighter plane designs until 1939 when investors took over the company and renamed it Republic Aviation Corporation, which then went on to develop, on its own money, the XP-47B Thunderbolt.

This aircraft became the most produced U.S. fighter of WWII, going on in Air Force service until replaced by the new jets. The company then produced a line of fighters for the Air Force, culminating in the famous A-10 Thunderbolt II.

The only civilian product by Republic was the innovative SeaBee 4-place Amphibian introduced in 1946. The SeaBee was not a success. Only 1050 planes were produced from 1946-47.

Ford 660 & A Rear Fork

By John Spyker. Published in the N-News Winter issue, Jan-Feb-Mar 2019, Volume 34 Number 1

Ford 660

John Spyker’s 1956 660

I bought my 1956 660 from a farm auction in the spring of 2015. To make the delivery, I drove it the twelve miles up the valley to our family cabin. It was a nice spring day. I called my mom who was watching my son, Isaiah. They were playing a game at the picnic table. When I came up over the hill, Isaiah realized it was me and came running out to the end of the drive, smiling ear to ear.

The tractor was in solid shape. It had brand new rear tires and a finish mower attached to it at the estate auction, which upped my top bid price. I don’t get to work on it very much because it is at our cabin and I don’t want to take up all of my weekends doing repair work, so I get a local shop to do many of the repairs. It has needed the oil tube going to the pressure gauge replaced and a new radiator.

The tractor is unrestored at this point. I like the dings and faded paint – it gives it character. The right fender has the paint worn off where the previous owner rested his arm while mowing. The trailer in the picture above is made from the axle of my maternal grandpa’s model A dump truck that was used on their farm. My dad and his dad had Ford tractors, so there is some family history.

I didn’t know much about Ford’s before buying it other than dad had one. His had a narrow front, maybe it was a 901, but I’m not sure. Mom had to sell it when Dad passed away in 1984. I do remember that it was a Select-O-Speed. I loved riding around on my 660 with my son and passing on a life in the outdoors. Isaiah and I also rode in the Fulton Fall Festival tractor parade in McConnellsburg, PA this past year.

We use the 660 mostly to drag or haul in wood, move stones, grade and plow snow. Our tractor is a worker. My feeling is that once a tractor is fixed up and painted, I would only want to show it. For now this 660’s major job is to get firewood, but we still enjoy riding it in the parade.

The fork at work cleaning the road

The fork at work cleaning the road.

I rebuilt a tandem axle trailer after pulling it out of the weeds. I’m a self-taught welder for the most part. I picked up hints and ideas from welders and took some classes. I bought a welder at auction and started practicing. The trailer was one of my first projects.

I also built a set of forks for the 3-point hitch. I got some of the materials at auctions and also at the junk yard. The pipe I bought at the junkyard. I had to buy the entire length, so I have enough for my next project – a lift boom. The gussets and diameter holes were burnt at my workplace, Habot Steel in York, PA. (I have worked in the steel industry since I was 19). They let me use the plasma machine. I cut everything else on my neighbor’s bandsaw or with my acetylene torch.

building the fork

In the shop building the fork.

This involved lots of grinding and welding. I tell my son, “You can make anything with a torch, grinder and welder.” When I told him about this article he said, “I’m going to be famous! I’m going to be famous!” His name is Isaiah and he loves tractors. He has inherited his great grandfather’s Wheel Horse, which we take to the tractor parade too.

Isaiah helping to bring in the firewood

Isaiah helping to bring in the firewood!

SubscribeEnjoy this article? Subscribe to the N-News Magazine for more essential N-News! Subscribers have made the print version of the N-News Magazine a success. Subscribe today!

Working: Dave Westen’s NAA Keeps Going!

We purchased this five-acre property in 2000 from my wife’s parent’s estate. A man about five miles away had the 8N sitting along the road for sale and we made a deal. My brother had bought his NAA from a neighbor and I had the 1948 8N at the time. I traded the 8N to him for the NAA (I’ve had it since 2004) and find the NAA to be a much more versatile tractor. We’ave added a couple of pieces of land since then and now have 25 acres and the NAA has been the workhorse! Continue reading

The Long Run: A 12-year Restoration

Gobert LongRun 1.jpg

By Larry Gorbet. N-News Winter 2018. Vol. 33 No. 1

Tractors were part of the fabric of the community in Lonoke, Arkansas, a small farming community of about 4,200 people. A friend told me about a 901 fifteen years ago – a propane model. And nothing was easy on this restoration which took place over twelve years. Continue reading

Two Sides of the Same Tractor

N-News Autumn 2017. Vol. 32 No. 4

Unless there is a son or daughter who is interested in your tractor, there comes a time when you need to send it on to the next owner. In one story, a son who lives 2000 miles away has to decide what to do with his father’s tractor. The other story picks up the first left off: an 8N ready for a new life with a new family. Continue reading

How I Got Into Old Ford Tractors

Ralph Brown's 8N post-restoration

By Ralph Brown. N-News Autumn 2017 Vol. 32 No. 4

My interest in the Ford 8N began many years ago in the days before I had a driver’s license. When I began considering taking on the challenge of restoring one, my memories of the Ford 8N I drove as a teenager were vivid and influenced my decision. There was no need for me to travel across the country to find one. I found mine within 45 miles of home. Continue reading

NAA – And a Member of the Family

Dennis Hamblin's NAA

By Dennis Hamblin. N-News Summer 2017. Vol. 32 No. 3

My NAA story goes like this: my wife and I moved to a small piece of property outside of Dallas. My dad said that I needed a tractor to maintain the place, so we started the search and soon found a mechanically restored NAA Golden Jubilee painted all one color. We pooled our money and bought it. Now it’s a member of the family. Continue reading

A 2N Lives in Brooklyn

Andrew Sarno's 2N in Brooklyn

By Andrew Sarno. N-News Winter 2017 Vol. 32 No. 1

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. We made it home without a hitch and for years my father tinkered and toyed with the tractor until he had fully restored it. Nearly twenty years after inheriting the tractor, I finally understand. I now have an appreciation for things from the past that move more slowly. Continue reading

1952 8N: er’ah, maybe really , 1950!

Jeff Johnson's 1952 8N

By Jeff Johnson. N-News Autumn 2016. Vol. 31 No. 3

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.” I soon found the 8N. But it wasn’t pretty! 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!” Continue reading

1954 NAA

Wayne Musser's NAA 1954

By Wayne Musser. N-News Summer 2016. Vol. 31 No. 3

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. Last winter, I restored the NAA. I hope it will continue to provide reliable service for the next generation. Continue reading

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. Fifty-five years later I tried to locate our original family tractor. I couldn’t. So I gave up looking and searched for an 8N and located one in the State of Arkansas. A restoration process was immediately started to return the tractor to its condition as delivered from the factory in 1952. Continue reading

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

Gardner Waldeier's Ford 641 under the shed

By Gardner Waldeier. N-News Winter 2016. Vol. 31 No. 1

Thrift. noun. The careful use of money, especially by avoiding waste.
Making due with what is available is paramount these days. I needed a good dry place to keep my tractor and set to making that thought a reality at the 1799 farmhouse where I grew up. So I built a lean-to style pole barn off the end of the house recently and did the whole project for around ten dollars. Continue reading

A Couple of Ns and a Trailer

Bill Wells and son Peter

By Peter Wells. N-News Spring 2015. Vol. 30 No. 2

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

By Chris Britton. N-News Spring 2015. Vol. 30 No. 2

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