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1971 FORD 3000 TRACTOR

[Image Ford 3000 As Found]

Looking like it needed a friend. Does this look something like a police lineup?

This gem was traded on a newer tractor and was sitting on the dealer's lot when I went by there to buy a 5-gallon pail of combination tractor fluid. They do that on purpose. We go there for one thing, and end up buying something we didn't plan on, and probably don't need. Well, they saw me coming. Not many people are interested in gasoline tractors. The salesman hustled over, and quoted a good price, just not quite good enough to set the hook. The hook was set a couple weeks later when the salesman contacted me with a reduced price.

The 3000 is not much bigger than an 8N, and the 3 cylinder gas engine makes almost twice as much horsepower.

[Image Ford 3000 Left]
[Image Ford 3000 Right]

This tractor has 8 forward gears and 2 reverse, double clutch, live hydraulics, live PTO, with a 12 volt negative ground generator system. The padded seat with coil springs, and arm rests, is very comfortable.

Using steel fuel line tubing to protect wiring is not a bad idea. It is easy to form and fairly durable. The sin here was using a ready-made length and leaving the two loose flare nuts rattling around on the tubing.

It was starting to look like this tractor may be too new for me to enjoy working on it. The spark plug wires leave the distributor and disappear. The spark plugs are completely buried under the battery tray. At first glance, this appears to be thoughtless design that has become standard on modern cars. How many things are going to have to come off to get a wrench on the spark plugs?

[Image Battery Tray Closed]

Look again, is that a wingnut next to the battery? What do you think that is for? Curiosity has gotten me in lots of trouble, so I move to the side. The battery might be about to try and squash my foot. Loosen the wing nut until the bolt will slide thru a slot, then swing the bolt out of the way. Then the entire battery tray swings out allowing easy access to the engine. Are you kidding me? I swung it back and forth a few times like a kid with a new toy. This is so cool!

[Image Battery Tray Open]

It's simply incredible they went to such lengths to make routine maintenance easier.

Judging by the looks of that valve cover, the valves on this engine have not been adjusted in a very long time. A new valve cover gasket has been ordered.

[Image Nest In Dash]

This is the nesting area behind the instrument panel. The proofmeter and gauges were working, but no back-lighting or generator light. Thankfully, there are no chewed wires. Several terminals were very difficult to remove, and are covered in blue-green corrosion. That rot can eventually spread several inches into a cable like cancer. There are four bulb sockets, two for lighting, and two for idiot lights. All four sockets are in bad shape. Three bulbs are blown or missing. The wonder was that the oil pressure light was working.

Snap a few photos before removing wires, bulb sockets, and proof meter cable. This instrument panel appears to be easy enough to restore, rather than spending a wad of cash to replace it with a cheap China knock-off.

[Image Dash Before]

Darn! The glass broke while attempting to pry the bezel loose from the gaskets. It took 6 tries to cut a new glass from several small pieces carefully stored away for something like this. The pitted and weathered cast frame was carefully sanded, cooked at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, sanded again, degreased with alcohol, then powder-coated gloss black. Powder is cured by cooking at 350 for 20 - 30 minutes. Pre-cooking helps to thoroughly dry the part, reducing blemishes that occur when curing powder paint in the oven. Dry powder also sticks better to warm metal.

While the frame was cooking in the oven, the face and gauge pointers needed attention. The face almost got painted a single color. All those fussy black and silver lines seemed impossible to duplicate. It was tedious, but working with a straightedge, X-Acto knife, and scraper, the rust was cleaned out of the lines. A fine tip artist brush was used to fill-in the lines with paint. After that, the wide lines around gauge openings, and pointers were easy.

Powder-Coating is great for the impatient! By the time the face was finished, the powder-coated frame was completely cool and ready to be re-assembled. Cutting a new rubber gasket from an old tire tube was tedious, but free. Screws were left a bit loose to leave a small gap that was filled with black RTV sealant. After drying for several hours, the screws were snugged just enough to make sure we have a water-tight seal at that seam (not so much that the RTV is forced completely out).


[Image Dash After]

That turned out well for appearance. Most of the problems remain on the tractor with the wiring harness.

The cure for blue-green copper corrosion is to wash terminal ends in a solution of vinegar and a couple tablespoons of salt for about two minutes. They should quickly look like new. Immediately after removing from the vinegar they should be thoroughly rinsed in baking soda/water solution to neutralize the mild acid. Rinse with clean water, then spray with contact cleaner to dry and protect the terminals. Use small containers for the two solutions. Dip wire ends individually or in groups. Any vinegar splashed or spilled must be neutralized with baking soda and rinsed clean. WD40 works as a moisture chaser for terminals and bulb sockets if you don't have the real thing. Don't squirt WD40 in your stereo equipment though.

After cleaning LOOK at the harness ends. The terminals should look like new. The wires should be crimped and soldered to the terminals. Any exposed copper wire should be covered with marine grade heat shrink to make them waterproof. Marine-grade heat shrink has a glue layer on the inside. If no glue appears at the ends when shrunk, it's not marine-grade and it's not weatherproof. What can be seen of the insulated wire should have good color, be flexible, and not appear cracked, burnt, or previously hacked. If any part of the harness does not pass this inspection, it should be replaced.

If wires are just dirty, the hand cleaner with lanolin works great for me. Get some on a rag and pull each wire thru the rag. Clean them completely. I'm not sure what the hand cleaner might do to the insulation over time. I've cleaned spark plug wires and boots this way for many years with no problems.

Do not forget to inspect battery cables. This is where nothing less than perfect will do. My ground cable turned out to be made up from two pieces with a big lump of tape in the middle and one replacement clamp-on terminal. Absolutely unacceptable. New cables were purchased. How many battery cables have you seen with the insulation pulled out of the terminal exposing the copper wire? My new cables were covered with heat shrink at both ends to prevent that.

[Image Battery Cable Done Right]
[Image Battery Cable Done Right]

Is this excessive? Yes it would be, if this was a trailer-queen that will never get wet. For a tractor that will be working in all sorts of weather, weatherproof is absolutely necessary for long-term reliability.

My wiring did not pass inspection. Most of the harness looks pretty good but the engine wiring has been hacked in several places. The coil wire is about 3-feet too long with the extra wire just wadded up near the starter relay. Pulling the entire harness off the tractor is much harder on the Ford 3000 than my N-Tractors. Photos were taken to document where wires were routed and connected. Then I discovered the oil light hack and decided not to go any further for now.

If the entire harness needs to be replaced, more of this tractor is enclosed in sheet metal, with parts of the harness passing through grommets. There are also more wires than on earlier tractors. Rebuilding the original harness in-place might make more sense than replacing the entire harness. The wires under the tape will often be like new. Wires that are in poor shape, or have been hacked can be replaced one at a time.

Unraveling all that tape is no fun. Use something like loose pieces of Velcro wrap or loose tie wraps to keep the bundles of wires together as the tape comes off. Don't let the harness fall completely apart. When every wire and terminal looks good, the harness should be covered to protect the wires. I prefer to use the split plastic wire loom that is used on modern cars. It's inexpensive, provides more protection than tape, and is much easier to remove.

Memorial Day weekend

[Image Hood Side]
[Image Hood Side]

The Holiday weekend weather was originally forecast to be sunny. Then tropical storm Bonnie was going to come up the coast and rain for several days. We ended up having partly cloudy, and warm temps. We have learned not to base any plans on the forecast. The hood side panels are fairly straight, and the paint is in better shape than it appears in these photos. Half of that surface rust just washed off. There was still too much rust not to sand with fine paper, prime, and paint them. These panels are too big for the electrolysis tank, so I used a heat gun and scraper to remove the decals, then sanded them as much as necessary for the new primer to get a good grip. The only cracked/loose paint was where the panels were dented. Chipped paint edges were sanded smooth after the sheet metal was straightened.

[Image Dust Shield]
[Image Air Filter]

These are some of the parts removed, so none of the crud on them would end up inside the engine. All parts removed were cleaned, sanded, primed, and painted before being reinstalled.

No, I generally don't strip everything to bare metal. My mission is to refresh, not restore. A true restoration project is an incredible amount of work that is mostly unnecessary for a working tractor. My methods must work ok, the 8N has gotten a few warts over the last 10 years, but still cleans up well for photos.

[Image New Manifold]

The exhaust manifold was badly cracked where the vertical pipe fits. It might have been repairable. I've fixed worse, but new manifolds for this engine are only about $40. It makes no sense not to put a new one on it after going to the trouble to remove the old one. Exhaust manifold bolts are always trouble. The long one was rusted solid and snapped off about half way thru the manifold. The manifold would twist far enough to eventually work the gasket out. That created enough clearance to pry the manifold back and forth to eventually snap that bolt flush with the cylinder head. The broken stub was not frozen in the threads, and easily screwed right out. The new manifold was installed with grade 8 studs and brass nuts.

[Image Valves]

This engine seemed noisy. All of the Valves were very loose. The spark plugs were removed to make it easier to turn the engine by hand. According to the manual, four valves are adjusted with No.1 piston at top-dead-center, compression stroke (1&3 Intake 1&2 Exhaust). The remaining two valves are adjusted with the engine rotated one full turn to top-dead-center on the No.1, exhaust stroke (2 Intake, 3 Exhaust). The manual for these tractors numbers the valves 1 thru 6 from front to back. I've always seen them called out by Cylinder No. and Intake or Exhaust.

How do we know when the engine is turned to Top Dead Center on No.1 cylinder? The easy way is to trace the No.1 spark plug wire to the distributor cap. Make a mark on the distributor body where the No.1 distributor post is located. Remove the distributor cap, and turn the engine until the rotor button is pointing at the mark you just made. Turn the crankshaft by hand as necessary to align the timing marks at zero. At this point both valves for No.1 cylinder should be closed. The rocker arms should be loose. Adjust No.1&3 Intake, No.1&2 Exhaust valves.

Problem : Adjusting valves on this engine isn't easy. They are very strange. From the toe of the rocker arm the feeler gauge is very loose. Then as the feeler gauge goes in, it suddenly tightens up just about where the back of the valve stem tip should be. There is a slight lip at the back edge of the contact area. Proper clearance adjustment should be the free area between parts that will actually make contact. A bit of masking tape on the two feeler gauges helped make sure the gauge was going to the right spot on each valve stem.

On 4-stroke engines the distributor turns 1/2 turn for each full turn of the crankshaft. So one full turn of the crankshaft will point the rotor button 1/2 turn away from No.1 cylinder. Do that, then align timing marks at zero again. Now you can adjust No.2 Intake and No.3 Exhaust valves. Done! Three cylinders is SO much easier than a V8.

[Image Wires]

This is some of the hacked engine wiring. The harness looks pretty good, except for the spliced wire. The real confusion is why the wire that should go to the oil pressure sender is spliced and wrapped around one of the generator terminals with another wire? What's up with that?

[Image Hood Dent]

The nose sheet metal came off without too much trouble. With the air tube off, remove four bolts, and the nose pulls right off. The headlight wires will have to be a complete do-over. Easy access to the radiator hoses was too good to pass up. This is where mission creep starts. Start working on the hood, end up draining the radiator and removing hoses. The lower hose was rubbing the front of the engine. That will quickly wear a hole in a perfectly good hose. It looked like trimming one end might solve the problem, but a pre-bent hose should not have to be modified. The solution was much simpler, flip the hose end-for-end, and try it the other way. Yep, the hose was on backwards.

More mission creep : It took close to an hour to clean hay and dust out of the radiator. The brackets that support the top of the nose are round steel bar. These appear to have been pushed back when the nose was dented. It took a combination of improvised tools to bend the brackets back to the correct shape. This was done mostly by removing any bends that didn't seem to belong.

Fortunately, the dent in the nose is right in front of the air tube opening. A long punch can be used thru that hole to bang out the dent. It is tempting to start banging sheet metal where damage is lightest. However, the correct way to reverse crash damage is to start banging at the point of impact. Also, as a general rule, never pound sheet metal without using a dolly on the back. In this case my arms were too short to work both sides by hand. The solution was to lay a large flat shop press arbor plate on the floor. Any heavy flat piece of scrap metal would have worked. Set the damaged nose area on the flat plate. Rock it around to get the point where I would normally hold a dolly sitting on the arbor plate. A piece of 1/2" solid bar was then used as a punch and carefully aligned with the worst part of the dent. It only took a few whacks to reverse that badly folded metal. Continue working the worst kinks near the point of impact. Work the hammer and dolly so, when the punch hits a high spot, the dolly is on adjacent high spot(s) on the opposite side of the panel.

[Image Hood Dent]

This is after working on it for about an hour. Creative use of clamps, pliers, and pop rivets put the seam back together much straighter than the screw someone had in it. It's a little early for primer and paint. Block sanding thru the blue color made it much easier for me to see where this panel needed a few more whacks. Perfect is beyond my current skill level.

[Image Still Painting Outside]

Still painting outside. Bugs were not too bad this time.

[Image sheet metal back on]

Sheet metal looks much better. Rims and fenders will be next. Castings are on hold until the engine condition is known.


This is why I don't get too fussy about colors. There are dozens of official "Ford Blue" color codes that might have been used on these tractors. Below are just five of the blue codes that might have been used on Ford tractors in 1971.

Ford Tractor Equipment Dark Blue
MX700825 or M1639Ford Tractor Blue
M1467Ford Tractor Diesel Blue
WT8096 or MX700790
WT8027Ford Tractor Blue
WT8050Ford Tractor Blue
Wimbledon White Wimbledon White

Color swatches above may appear different on your screen and are intended to show the range of shades that might be considered "right" for this tractor. Rust-Oleum Specialty Farm and Implement Gloss Ford BlueRustoleum Royal Blue appears to be the I picked the color that appeared I thought looked the best.

[Image Rim Locks]

Parts to replace the missing locks on the power adjust rims were not hard to find. Unfortunately, they don't fit very good. More replacement parts from the land of almost fits. The cast lock parts will have to be carefully ground until they fit. I've been spraying the other hardware on these rims with PB Blaster. Hopefully, when I'm ready to install the locks, the other hardware will move.

[Image Battery Hold-Down]

These are some universal battery J-bolts. The piece across the top is just a scrap piece of steel rod with a loop bent in each end.

[Image Left Side]
[Image Front Corner]

The hood turned out ok, for the time spent.

The last thing on my list Sunday was to install the connector for a battery maintainer. That should be a simple task. Loosen the battery clamp nuts and put one ring terminal under each nut. Simple, until one end of the positive clamp sheared off as the nut was re-tightened. It never even got snug. This is a brand new cable! I should know better than to buy replacement parts from the local tractor parts store. The wire cable is still good. Removing the broken terminal end was easy enough with a little heat. Replaced the molded terminal with a solid marine-grade battery terminal. The terminal I found comes with a solder pellet that is properly sized. Clamp the terminal in a vice, insert pellet, and heat with a torch. When the solder pellet melts, poke the stripped cable end into the solder. Wait a few seconds and remove the torch. Finish the end with a piece of heat shrink. Now it looks like the cable I should have bought to begin with.


[Image Foot Throttle Parts]

This is a photo of a modified foot throttle kit found on ebay. This photo was taken after quite a bit of grinding. These are some of the most poorly made parts I've ever seen, and I've hacked-out some pretty awful stuff over the years. There was no fit or finish of any kind before painting. No mounting hardware, throttle spring, or instructions were provided. The upper bracket (that should have threaded onto the throttle rod) was the wrong threads (too small). I spent a few minutes on the grinder removing raw edges, rounding corners, re-drilling, and coming up with proper mounting hardware. Long bolts and spacers will allow the main bracket to go below the foot board, rather than on top as shown in photos found on-line. The two-piece adjustable link provided was probably usable, but I saw no need for this link to be adjustable. A new link, bent from a single length of stainless steel rod replaced the adjustable link. The intent is that the hand throttle lever should work exactly as it did before. The foot throttle should just add the ability to increase throttle opening from any position of the hand lever.

[Image Foot Throttle Test Fit 1]
[Image Foot Throttle Test Fit 2]

These show the assembled pieces on the tractor. It seems to work. Quite a bit of necessary hardware was missing from this "kit" and it seemed to need a throttle return spring to function correctly. The throttle return spring on this one is currently near the carb, hooked between the choke cable bracket and the throttle bellcrank (right above the choke).

[Image Shift Knobs]

Anybody notice those shiny knobs? I made one earlier to replace the rotten plastic one on the 8N. That is the one on the Left. The two new ones match the big and little knobs on the 3000. These are turned from solid aluminum on a mini lathe, then polished.


The next step should have been to test the new foot throttle, but when I cranked the engine up, the (now correctly wired) oil light stayed on. Remember that wire for the oil pressure sending unit that was attached to the generator? Sometime in the last few weeks that wire and splice was taken out and reconnected to the oil pressure sender. Do you suppose the oil light only appeared to be working normally because someone intentionally hot-wired it to the generator!

[Image - Wiring Possibly Intentionally Hacked]

It is hard for a Christian to accept that there are people in this world who will do things like this, and think they are being smart. Time for some tests. If the engine isn't already terminally damaged, removing the spark plugs, will let it crank without compression. Removing the oil sending unit opens the oil gallery. If there is any oil flow at all, it should squirt out that hole when the engine is cranked. Nothing, not even a dribble. Uh Oh! Removed the oil filter and the big cap over the oil pump drive. Crank it again, and the oil pump drive gear is turning. No oil is coming out any of the oil filter or sending unit holes. Uh Oh!

Drain and remove the oil pan. There are twenty two (22) 9/16" bolts around this oil pan. It's 98 degrees in the shade, and 98% humidity. I'm soaking wet, the mosquitoes are biting, and in some strange, twisted way, I'm still having FUN! Even when the pan suddenly comes loose, the unexpected weight tips me forward, and I kiss the engine block. Ok, that wasn't fun, but it was funny. Now that the oil pan is off, it looks like the oil pump screen has been hit with something. Nothing else is loose or broken in there. It's time to go clean out the oil pan. The good news is there are no shiny metal bits of any kind in the oil pan, and nothing shiny in the oil that came out.

[Image oil pan dented]

The oil pan does appear to have been dented and hammered out from the inside. One mystery solved. Once upon a time, something hit the oil pan, and dented it enough to whack the oil pump fairly hard. I've already ordered a new oil pump.

[Image oil pump hex shaft is round]

Remove the oil pump, and the rest of the story becomes clear. The oil pump drive hex is worn almost completely round. This would explain the lack of oil flow. The pump wasn't turning. The upper pump drive shaft hex was almost as bad. Add upper and intermediate oil pump drive shaft parts to what has already been ordered. It will take a few days for parts to be delivered. Bugs will start nesting in the engine if any holes are left open. To prevent that, two bolts hold the oil pan in place, screw the oil filter, sending unit, and spark plugs in to plug those holes.

The new parts arrived during the following work week. This weekend is no cooler than the last one, but I do have a new can of bug spray. The oil pump did not come with a gasket. I keep an assortment of gasket paper handy, so it was easy enough to bang one out with a ball peen hammer. It won't do much good to install a new oil pump if the engine is already damaged. The right way to check the crank and bearing clearance is with Plastigauge. Remove one crank or rod cap and bearing half. Place a strip of Plastigauge across the bearing running surface. Reinstall and torque the bearing cap. Remove the cap and bearing half again and compare the flattened strip of Plastigauge to the chart on the package. The wider it gets, the tighter the bearing clearance is. Tight is good, loose is bad. Clean off the Plastigauge residue, and apply assembly lube to the bearing face before reinstalling and torquing. Now do the next one. This takes time, but it's the only way to do it right. Watch for any bearings that are a different color, or appear to have spun in the caps. Any bearings that look bad will have to be replaced. It is possible to hone light score marks out of one or two crank journals with the crank still in the engine. Bearings must be replaced with the correct oversize to match the honed journal. My main and rod bearings checked out at 0.003" to 0.0035" and they all looked very good. Maximum bearing clearance specification for rods and mains in this engine is 0.004". They may be a little loose, but anything within spec should be good to go. Quite frankly, I am very surprised to find no wiped bearings.

Install the oil pump and intermediate drive shaft with a gasket and two bolts. Install the oil pan, tighten drain plug and fill with oil. Install the upper drive shaft from the top. Then reinstall the pump drive shaft cap. Rather than simply replace the oil pressure sending unit, I installed a Tee fitting so this engine can have an oil pressure gauge and a sending unit. I left the oil filter off for a quick test. Spark plugs are out. Hold a bucket in front of the oil filter holes and crank the engine. WOW! at least a pint of oil almost immediately hit the bottom of the bucket! Replace the oil filter, and crank it until the oil light goes off, and the gauge shows oil pressure. Success! Lots of oil pressure! Reinstall the spark plugs, turn on the gas, and fire it up! The oil light went out almost immediately, and the oil gauge is showing over 70 pounds of pressure!

[Image After Test Drive]
[Image Oil Pressure]

After a short ride, the engine is running in this photo. The close up shows my oil gauge on the engine with 60 PSI.

[Image Tee Fitting]

Here's another photo of the oil sending unit and gauge using a Tee fitting. The plan is to eventually relocate the gauge where I can see it from the seat. I'd rather do that without hacking a big hole in the dash I just painted. Until a plan comes together for that, the gauge can stay where it is. The engine still seems a little noisy. Carb needs to be cleaned. I hope it's going to be ok.

[Image Tee Fitting for Vacuum]

This is another Tee fitting added to the vacuum port on the intake manifold. The distributor vacuum will be hooked back up. The new manifold vacuum connection is for a PCV hose. I'm doing away with the road draft tube in favor of a PCV valve and valve cover vent.

[Image With Blade]

Hooked up a blade after work today. The engine is running well, and pulls good. Unfortunately, once it got good and warmed up, it starts burping puffs of smoke when I put any real load on it.

[Image PCV Hose]

The PCV system is hooked up. The new vacuum hose can be seen better in this photo. This has likely leaned-out the carb adjustment slightly but not enough to need immediate attention. Put "adjust carb" on my list for next weekend. I might try running without the PCV hooked up to see if that has something to do with the smoke.

[Image Tee Fitting]
[Image Tee Fitting]

It's been a few weeks. Headlight wiring has been replaced. A mess of switches and wiring under the dash has been removed. The original harness now appears fine. The mess was mostly newer stuff that was added. My new light circuits are taped up until a set of tail lights and worklight have been mounted. We graded the driveway last weekend and worked it a little harder this weekend. The engine still smokes when worked hard. The engine basically smokes like a train, even with the PCV disconnected. The main and rod bearings are fine, so there is no need to rebuild the bottom end. A compression check will tell me if the rings are shot.

I'm a little disgusted with this tractor. Mostly with the previous owner and dealer who passed it on to me knowing it had serious issues. Took the 8N out to run the cutter over the trails. That old and familiar feeling came back. The rounded N-Tractor hood is a lot easier to see around when dodging trees. These old N-tractors just fire-up and go to work. I'll probably let the 3000 sit for a few weeks, and make some progress on the V8-8N project.


OK. I'm a tractor expert now, so reading the manual is for those other people, right? WRONG. This blue tractor has been cranky since I got it, literally. Getting it started has required more grinding of the starter than it should. Points are right, carb is good, timing, air, battery, etc. I've been thru it all, and fixed anything that seemed a little off. It should fire right up. The mystery was solved during one session on the think tank in my "office" (where I do all my best thinking). Standard procedure is to grab something to read. The Ford 3000 Operator's Manual was not my first choice, but the mission was urgent, leaving no time to search for other reading material.

Typical of most operator's manuals, this one starts out with service, warranty, and of course "Safety Precautions". Nothing unexpected so far. Next section is "CONTROLS AND INSTRUMENTS". Ok, maybe this will tell me what the 4th hole in the face of the dash is for. Key Switch, Choke, Lights, and idunno what goes in the other one. It isn't real clear, but the Ford 3000 tractors were available with several different transmissions, as well as gas or diesel engines. Controls vary with the different options. For my gas engine, manual transmission, the hole under the ignition switch must have been plugged, Key Switch, Choke, and Lights are the only controls labeled.

Reading on, the next section is "OPERATION" and "BREAK IN PROCEDURE". This tractor is way past any break-in period. The next section is "STARTING THE ENGINE". The set-up is a little different for each type of transmission. Right after that, under "2. Gasoline Engines:" it says "Move the hand throttle to the closed position." What? Really? That seems strange. Don't think I've ever seen a starting procedure that didn't specify something like 1/4 to 1/2 throttle for starting. Do you think closing the throttle will make any difference?

It did. Open Fuel valve, depress clutch pedal, make sure high-low shift lever is in neutral position, CLOSE the throttle, turn the key, and whaddyaknow it started right up! It's rare that this old dog actually learns a new trick. Mostly I'm just forgetting old tricks.


[Image Tee Fitting]

My current fleet of working tractors is the 1946 2N painted redbelly colors, the 1971 Ford 3000, and the 1952 8N.


[Image Tee Fitting]
[Image Tee Fitting]

Most people didn't know something was missing. The sheetmetal steering gear covers only appear in some photos of these tractors. They are hard to find since nobody is making replacements, and many owners did not bother to reinstall them once they were removed. They are a bit of a pain to install. It helps to remove and install them several times to get the knack. Turning the steering left and right helps to find the clearance to install the pieces. It is very easy to short the positive battery cable when installing the right front piece. I managed to finagle it into place without removing the battery cable, but I strongly recommend disconnecting the battery ground cable. Removing the transmission fill cap is the main trick to installing the right rear piece. The two left side pieces were much easier for some reason.

My foot throttle link rod was made before I was aware the covers existed. The left cover has a slot for the neutral safety wire, so it might have been ok to add a similar slot to the right side for the foot throttle rod. However, making a new link rod seemed like a better choice. The throttle pedal assembly was also moved forward to the next set of holes in the footboard.

After using this tractor a few more times, there must be something wrong. A little smoke from an old working tractor is not the end of the world. The engine just seems noiser than it should be, even considering twice as much horsepower as my other tractors. The bearing clearances checked-out fine when the new oil pump was installed. The only thing left that might be making this kind of noise is the pistons or wrist pins. External methods to find where the noise is coming from have not shed any light on the problem. Looks like the oil pan will have to come off again.


One of my favorite modifications is to add a second leveling box on the left side. This provides twice as much adjustment to the lift arms, as well as making it more convenient hooking up implements. The second leveling box can save a trip or two around the tractor. Just crank the one that happens to be closest.

This set was for sale cheap, mostly because they were both locked up. The reason this leveling box was locked up is the pressed-in top cap was missing. I often take a chance on experienced parts that need fixing when the price is right.

[Image 3-Point Leveling Box]

They were certainly locked up. I sprayed some PB Blaster in the fixed link and hung it upside down on the wall in the shop. Let the PB Blaster chemicals work on it a while. The leveling box was hung in my electrolysis tank for several hours. That process is mostly line-of-sight from the part to the sacrificial metal. So it does a good job on the outside of parts. The inside is basically just soaking in the tank, but that does seem to help loosen rusty parts. That may be mostly wishful thinking, but at least the electrolysis process removes most of the grease, dirt, rust, and loose paint from the outside.

After electrolysis, then soaking the bottom threaded part in PB Blaster for a few hours, the bottom part loosened up and could be unscrewed. Unfortunately, a large portion of the threaded shaft is so worn out it is not usable. The threads have rusted down and are too short to engage properly. The crank gears were starting to come loose, but still mostly locked-up. Knock the roll pin out, remove the bushing/gear piece, then just pull the handle out. Once the handle is out of the way, the shaft assembly can be knocked out of the upper housing. After a thorough cleaning, the two gears were in amazingly good shape. Rather than spend money on new parts, I will replace the threaded portion of the shaft with a piece of threaded rod.

[Image 3-Point Leveling Box]

The worn-out threaded-part has been cut off, and a piece of threaded-rod cut to length to replace it. Both matching ends have been chamfered to provide good weld penetration, and both pieces were center-drilled and tapped for a short piece of threaded rod that will add strength.

[Image 3-Point Leveling Box]

This is the two pieces assembled and ready for welding.

[Image 3-Point Leveling Box]

Finished welding, grinding, and re-assembled in the upper housing.

[Image 3-Point Leveling Box]

Now we need a new cap. A freeze plug might work, but I didn't have any the right size. The cap on my other leveling boxes just appears to be a press-fit piece of sheet metal. One of my hole saws would cut a plug just slightly too large, but the pilot bit would put a hole right in the middle of the piece I want. The pilot bit was removed. A piece of scrap sheet metal was clamped to my drill press. The plug was then carefully ground down to exactly press-fit into the leveling box housing.


[Image Front Bumper As Found]

Bumpers were one of several available dealer-installed options for the N-tractors. I suspect that was still the case in 1971. This bumper is different from other bumpers I've seen on any of the old Ford tractors. By 1971 there were many aftermarket sources for accessories to fit the various Ford tractors. There are no markings on this bumper to indicate where it was made, but it definitely appears to be factory-made rather than a one-of-a-kind original. The top bar and supports have been torched off. The bottom bar is bent out of sight. The pintle hook brackets were very solidly welded. It was fun grinding those welds down to remove the non-standard brackets. The bent bar was straightened using a length of heavy chain, a floor jack, and wooden blocks.

[Image Straighten Bottom Bar]
[Image Straighten Bottom Bar]
[Image Replacing Top Bar]

Many bumpers have had pieces removed for one reason or another. It's easy to see the torch marks where the uprights for the top bar were burned off. This bumper has curved bars. That smooth curve could be a challenge to duplicate.

[Image Replacing Top Bar]

Buy more tools. This is a modified Harbor Freight tubing bender. The wing extensions are from SWAG Off Road. The base is another HF item.

[Image Replacing Top Bar]

A set of flat rollers quickly put a smooth bend in a piece of 1-1/2" flat bar.

[Image Replacing Top Bar]
[Image Replacing Top Bar]

The sharp curve at each end was done on the shop press. It took more than one shot at each end to make that curve look right.

[Image Replacing Top Bar]
[Image Replacing Top Bar]

Trim the ends with a saw and grind the round profile to match other bars. All that remains is to weld on some 3/8" x 1-1/2" scrap to extend the supports and attach the new top bar.

To Be Continued


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