Social Distancing Versus Distant Socializing

Social Distancing Versus Distant Socializing

It was a very strange start to 2020. On the second day of the new year, my Uncle Gerard, the man that started this magazine and who showed me my first camera and helped create a passion in me for art and photography, passed away.

Shortly after that, the beginnings of the COVID-19 pandemic emerged in China. A few weeks passed and it was here. Suddenly, our lives are all about handwashing and social distancing to try and slow the spread of the disease.

At first blush, this wasn’t a big challenge for me. I have a home office that is full of computers, books, manuals, and all of the things that are sold through the magazine. Though I used to have people helping me here (first Sarah, then Jill, Becky, finally Rowan), that is no longer the case. A few years ago, when Rowan needed to move on to a full-time job, I didn’t replace her.

Taking over fulfillment of orders and updating the database leaves me very little free time, especially when I am putting an issue together. I spend every weekday, pretty much by myself, with an occasional neighbor stopping by for eggs or to borrow a tool. I go to the post office once a day, sometimes twice. Beyond that, I am home.

Given all this, I have been experiencing the opposite of social distancing. My wife (who is a social worker at our local VA hospital) starting working from home in April. My older daughter’s college stopped having in-person classes as did my younger daughter’s high school. What was once a quiet workspace during the week has become a small office with everyone doing their own thing and fighting for bandwidth.

Social Distancing Versus Distant Socializing imageThis got me thinking about how tractors naturally work to socially distance us. Generally speaking, when you are out mowing the field, plowing the garden or moving snow, you are alone on the tractor. (And for me, it is a meditative state at times.) Even when working on repairing or maintaining a tractor, there aren’t a bunch of people around, you are probably working alone.

At the same time, the N-News Magazine has, for the past 35 years, offered a type of distant socializing where subscribers get to look into someone else’s shop or hear about someone else’s memories from the printed page. It has acted as a form of cohesion in a world that seems to be tearing itself apart.

So, for the little bit of time that you sit reading this issue, think about all the ways this hobby and our collective memories have helped hold us all together.

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.

Antique Communication

Communication is a curious endeavor. It is one of the things that (supposedly) makes us humans superior to all other creatures. (That statement is worth a book all on its own – human civilization is short and we have big problems getting along, so “superior” might be the wrong descriptor.) But over the last few hundred years, our methods for communication have evolved so dramatically it is mind bending. Continue reading

Ford 660 & A Rear Fork

I bought my 1956 660 from a farm auction in the spring of 2015. The tractor is unrestored. I like the dings and faded paint – it gives it character. I rebuilt a tandem axle trailer and built a set of forks for the 3-point hitch. For now this 660’s major job is to get firewood, but we still enjoy riding it in the parade. Continue reading

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

How to Restore Ford Tractors

Book Review: How to Restore Ford Tractors cover

Back in stock! How to Restore Ford Tractors: The Ultimate Guide to Rebuilding and Restoring N-Series and Later Tractors 1939-1962 does an excellent job of hashing out the details of restoring a vintage Ford tractor. Published in 2008 with over 200 pages, this soft cover edition includes wonderful pictures of unusual models and options scattered throughout the pages (as are many photos of hands-on, down and dirty restoration work being done). Though the book emphasizes the N-series machines, overhead valve Hundred Series machines are covered as well.

trader 580-365-4429 1949 8N


trader-580-365-4429-1949-8N1949 8N V-8 totally restored. Rebuilt motor, new tires, professionally painted; $12,000 obo. Lawrence 580-365-4429 or 580-583-0751 (OK)

trader 479-633-2441 1953 Golden


trader-479-633-2441atrader-479-633-2441b1953 Ford Golden Jubilee which has been TOTALLY restored. Engine has seven hours on it since completing overhaul. Call with questions 479-633-2441 or email Tractor is in Rogers, Arkansas.

trader 580-365-4429 1952 8N


trader-580-365-4429-1952-8NCompletely restored 1952 8N 6-cyl Funk w/ cast iron oil pan, Sherman Over/Under trans, motor rebuilt, dual rears, new tires; org. hat rims. $9500 obo. Lawrence 580-365-4429 or 580-583-0751 (OK)

trader 803-240-0489 1957 861


Trader-803-240-04891957 861 remanufactured by N-Complete in 2010. Certificate signed by Tom Armstrong. approx, 200 hrs; $6600. 5 speed w/ps & Rest-O-Ride seat. Call Tim 803-240-0489 (SC)

Ford Fire Trucks

Book review Ford Fire Trucks cover

Ford Fire Trucks by Kent Parrish is a wide ranging collection with tremendous captioned info with each photo. And there are a lot of photos, over 400, most in color but some in black and white. Ranging from 1917 Model T’s that were custom built into fire engines all the way to 2009, the book is broken up into ten chapters, roughly one for each decade.

The Age of Genius

The Age of Genius: The Seventeenth Century & the Birth of the Modern Mind isn’t a philosophy book. This is a book proving that the 17th century was in fact a turning point in humanity relinquishing much of the ancient world for the beginnings of a “modern” point of view. A.C. Grayling is a professor of Philosophy and Master of the New College of Humanities in London who believes that philosophy needs to be integrated into everyday life.