Two Sides of the Same Tractor

Published in the 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. Actually, we aren’t really owners of these great machines, we are caretakers. Like living in a historic old house, you know that building will outlive you. What are you going to wish for that old house and its new owner? What are your desires for your old tractor? 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.

Dan Parker on the 8N in the 1970s

Mark’s father, Dan Parker, on the 8N in the 1970s.

By Mark Parker.


The old tractor came into our lives in the early 1970s. My family had just bought some land in Massachusetts and we needed a piece of equipment to help out with chores around the property. My Dad searched around and found someone selling a used 8N with a front end bucket. Over time, the land was cleared and an apple orchard was put in. The frontend bucket proved helpful moving rocks and logs. Eventually, as the land became more meadows and orchards, more and more attachments started showing up, a disk harrow for turning over the soil and putting in a garden, a flail mower for mowing the grass, and numerous carts and trailers for hauling things around the property.

My Dad had a lot of fun with the old tractor, and it really became a part of who he was. He spent many weekends either working on it or doing projects with it. I can remember many father/son discussions, him driving, me riding shotgun, sitting side-saddle on the fenders. It was the go-to vehicle for teaching all the kids and grandkids how to drive and shift.

Three years ago, my father passed away. Knowing how much enjoyment he got from the tractor, I wanted to see it go to a good home. The problem was that I lived on the west coast and the tractor was located back east. I hadn’t seen it in several years and had no idea what condition it was in.

Did it still run? Was it rusting away? I didn’t know who to turn to for help, but an internet search turned up The N-News Magazine and Rob suggested I run an advertisement. We placed an ad and I got an email from one of the magazine readers, someone that lived nearby and was interested in restoring it. We set up a meeting for the next time I was back east.

Several weeks later, we met up and once I got a better look at the 8N, I could see it was in worse shape than I remembered. Slowly sinking into the ground, my first thought was that no one would want it and it was going to end up being hauled off to the junkyard and sold for scrap. The thought of that really bothered me. The tractor had meant so much to my father. Luckily, Pete showed up, motivated and ready to take on a project. Along with one of his buddies, he came back the following day with a flat bed truck and they pulled the tractor up onto it, promising me that they would take good care of it.

This fall is the third anniversary of my Dad’s passing and I know if he could see the pictures of the restored tractor, it would bring a smile to his face. When I think about that old 8N, I think about my Dad and all the great times we spent together. Seeing the restored tractor – I cannot think of a better outcome.

Peter Cambell's 8N

The 8N after Peter got a hold of it and spent some time in the shop!

By Peter Campbell.

As a subscriber to the N-News, I was reading the Spring 2015 issue when I noticed an ad. The party was “looking for a good home for a Ford 8N” located in western Massachusetts. I live in western MA so I called the number, which was in Washington state. I struck up a conversation with the gentleman. Turns out the tractor had belonged to his father. The property in MA was being sold and the gentleman needed the tractor removed. I met him at the property in Monterey, MA a couple of weeks later. The tractor was mine if I would remove it. It had a Lord Loader, flat rear tires, very rusty rear rims, no grill and green and yellow paint. It looked like it had been sitting outside for several years. It had been covered with a tarp, which by now was pretty well torn up. I agreed to remove it.

A friend of mine trucked the 8N ten miles to my home in Egremont, MA. Another friend stopped by and we had it running in about 20 minutes. My first step was to remove the loader. It seemed too big for the little 8N, so I sold it. This gave me a little pocket money to invest in the tractor. Next, we backed it into my garage to have a closer look. It was then that I noticed two threaded 3⁄8th inch rods running from the front axle to the bell housing. Hmmm? Never saw that on a tractor before.

A closer look revealed that on the front left side of the oil pan where the bolts go, the front axle support had been sheared off. The front axle was being held to the tractor by two rods connected to the bell housing! I bought a new oil pan and front axle support from Ebay and installed them with help from my friends.

After removing the hood and fenders, I worked my way along from front to back cleaning, scraping and painting. I replaced the front tires. They were 6.50 x 16. I wanted something that looked a little more in proportion so I bought 600 x 16s. I replaced all the instruments on the dashboard and bought a new steering wheel as well.

Next, I removed the rear wheels and rims. The rims and tires were shot so they went to the dump. These were replaced with new 11 x 28 rims. I bought a couple of nearly new 11.2 rear tires for a good price. Next came replacing both the brakes and axle gaskets. The motor ran with 60 lbs of oil pressure. The clutch and transmission needed no work. They were all left alone. The 11⁄8th pto shaft was replaced with a new 13⁄8th pto shaft.

Next came the painting. I sanded down the hood and fenders to bare metal and used two coats of Rustoleum auto primer, sanding between coats. I bought Ford medium brownish grey paint. This I brushed on, with two coats, lightly sanded it down between coats and then sprayed with three coats of the Ford medium brownish, grey paint with light sanding between the first two coats. I added front headlights and a rear light from a 1948 Ford truck, which blinks. All in all I think the little tractor turned out pretty well.

Pete Campbell was raised on a small farm in western Massachusetts where he still lives today. After high school, Pete enlisted in the service. After the military, he went to college when he obtained his R.N. degree. He retired in 2011. Now he spends his time restoring old tractors and smoking meat in his smoke house the old way using apple wood and corn cobs.

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 for over 30 years. Subscribe today!