The Vagabonds

A truly entertaining, well researched account of the early twentieth century friendship between Ford and Edison and the open road.

Two men who created something new where little more than an idea existed previously, take to the road for two week camping trips long before the open road was ready for them. Guinn chronicles their story starting in the nineteen-teens when both are well established characters in the public eye. Both were always on the lookout for the next new thing, and both knew how to manipulate a story to their advantage.

Into this mix add John Burroughs (the naturalist followed in the footsteps of Walt Whitman) and Harvey Firestone (tire magnate) and you quickly discover a fascinating story.

Their “camping trips” were hardly roughing it, but they did explore roadside America before roads were really ready, exploring parts of the country that were less traveled. It is an interesting peek into early 20th century American culture.

Originally $28, now as a remainder, this softcover is only $13.55 plus $2.75 S&H.

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

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

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