My exposure to Ford Tractors started in childhood during the late forties and early fifities. My family had a ranch in Exeter, California, a small rural town about an hour Southeast of Fresno. My family was in the grape growing business from 1946 until 1953. The grapes were for table consumption on the first picking and then those that were not considered “table grapes” were picked and sent to one of the local wineries. The Ford tractor was the main stay of that operation.
In 1953, our family ranch was sold and all of the farm equipment was sent to my Dad’s brother, who was farming in Nevada. I attended college in Southern California and then entered flight training with the US Navy. I spent five years flying A-4 Skyhawks for the Navy and then began a 36 year career as a commercial pilot.
As members of my parent’s generation passed away, the farm equipment was sold or otherwise disposed of and our venerable 1942 2N was not to be found. My cousins had long lost track of the tractor, so I had to find another one. Given the adage that “you can take the boy from the farm, but you can’t take the farm out of the boy,” I started a search for a Ford tractor to restore after I retired.
A 1952 8N came to my attention in Arkansas. After some discussion with the owner, arrangements were made to deliver it to our home in Virginia. In 2003, I retired from Delta Airlines and started the restoration process, which is now complete.
Fortunately, I was not presented with any major mechanical work – only painting and rebuilding of external engine parts such as the generator and the starter, as well as replacement of wiring and tires. The tractor had been subjected to years of field repairs, so a lot of the bolts had to be replaced. Thanks to several websites and the good folks at “Just 8Ns,” the tractor is nearly the way it came from the factory. My latest project was to install a tail light/work light assembly on the left rear fender.
The days of our tractor actually doing any farm work are long gone. Its primary use today is to tow our two boats around the property and back them into the garage for the winter storage. The front grill guard with associated hitch makes this job a snap. Of course, I always give the grandkids a ride around our property when they come for a visit. (This article originally appeared in Volume 28 Number 2, Spring 2013)