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1 As Found
2 Small Upgrades and Repairs
3 Serious Engine Work

1971 FORD 3000 TRACTOR


[Image Tractor Shed]

The 3000 was supposed to take over most of the chores, but has not gotten much use since I bought it. The engine has been making too much noise and smoke for me to get comfortable working it very hard or very much. As seen in this photo the 2N and 8N have continued to be my workers. The solution is to pull the 3000 apart, figure out what it needs, and either fix it or part it out.

It took a few weekends to clear a spot in the shed to do engine work. The V8 project is nearly ready for a test drive. The only thing holding that up has been the weather, downed trees, internet, phone problems.... The laundry list of things that need work or fixin' just keeps getting longer.

[Image Ready to Start Work]
[Image Ready to Start Work]

The 3000 is now parked at the shed. It will be supported under the tranny with a jack stand and backup floor jack. Both rear tires are chocked front and back, so it can't roll anywhere. The hood, cowl, radiator, and front axle have to come off before the doors will close on the shed.


The manual only shows a typical front split (engine/tranny) and a rear split (tranny/diff). This will be a modified front split. In my not so humble opinion, the only reason to ever do a front split the way it is shown in the manual, is if the only thing needing service is the clutch/flywheel. It will be much easier to remove those large bolts in the front axle carrier while the tractor is mostly in one piece. Removing pieces one-at-a-time makes it easier to clean and decide what needs work, and what needs to be cleaned and refinished. Removing the hood and radiator cover first also allows them to be set aside where they won't get messed up.

No matter how many tools you have for working on cars, more (bigger) tools are going to be required:
1 - A 4-foot piece of 1-1/2" heavy wall pipe. This will be an extension handle for your breaker bar.
2 - If your socket set will not survive that kind of pressure, get a better quality set.
3 - You will need a good quality 3/4" drive socket set.
4 - Combination wrenches in sizes from 15/16" to 1-1/4".
5 - A high-torque impact wrench and impact sockets to 1-1/4".
6 - An engine hoist or overhead winch.
7 - Engine stand may need adapters.

Hardware and small parts

All nuts, bolts, and small parts should be sorted and stored as they are removed. Identify damaged fasteners and parts that will need to be replaced. Take pictures of everything as it is taken apart. Plastic containers in various sizes work great. If they have screw-on lids, the lid can be fastened under a shelf or workbench to keep them off the floor. That is how I sort and store many things in my shop. Switch to a new container, when switching to a new sub-assembly.

Plan on the job taking longer than expected. In this case, both radius rod bolts were completely frozen in place where they went thru the axle. The bolts holding the outer axles to the center section were also very difficult to remove. All of the hardware on this tractor is at least an order of magnitude larger than anything on the N-Tractors. My HF 3/4" drive socket set did not hold up to the more intensive use.


The radiator mounts with two captive crown bolts just like the N-Tractors. Unfortunately, just like the N-Tractors, these were thoroughly corroded, and just started spinning in the radiator. They did loosen just enough to get a sawsall blade in there to cut them off. Add radiator hardware and rubber pads to the list of new parts needed. The radiator looks perfect from the front. It should, I spent about an hour cleaning and straightening fins when I got this tractor. The back has a deep circle where a fan blade cut into it. Most likely a failed water pump at some point in the past. Someone tried to solder the cut radiator tubes. I've never seen that work very well. This one has been leaking. Add radiator re-core or new radiator to the shopping list.

More Manual Deviations:

The steering drag links were taken loose at the front, then just swung up and over to lay on the rear axle. Radius rods were completely removed. The outer axle assemblies were unbolded from the center section and set aside. Then the axle carrier was unbolted from the front of the engine.

[Image Front Axle Support]

"Unbolting the axle carrier" was not as easy as that statement makes it seem. The front axle support looks very similar to the same part on the N-tractors, just a lot heavier. It is attached to the engine with four very large nuts and bolts. These did not look rusty, but must have been tightened to about a million foot pounds. All of the bolts on this tractor are just laughing at my 1/2" drive impact wrench. Even at 110 psi it falls way short of having enough torque to break this stuff loose. A 4-foot piece of pipe on a breaker bar should have worked, but completely destroyed a 3/4" drive, 6-point, 1-1/8" socket. I've occasionally managed to crack smaller sockets, this one exploded.

Plan "B" was not looking good. The only other 1-1/8" socket in my box was the old Craftsman 12-point, 1/2" drive that was being used to hold the bolt when the other socket broke. The neighbor came over to see what I was up to. He had a 1-1/8" box end wrench that should work ok to hold the bolt. After breaking a 3/4" drive socket, I expected the smaller, thin-wall socket would split or take the corners off the hex nut. Just to prove me wrong, all four nuts came loose without breaking any more tools. The axle pivot bushing is loose, and it looks like a spacer is missing. The front axle will need to be rebuilt before putting everything back together. A certain amount of mission creep is expected. Breaking one socket is all the excuse needed to replace that piece of junk 3/4" drive set with better quality tools.

The engine should have been on the stand by now. At least removing the axle support was enough to allow the shop doors to be closed.

Engine Accessories

[Image Stripping Engine Accessories]

It may appear that there are only a few things left before the engine can be pulled. That would be misleading. Those few things continued to take more time and effort than expected. In order to prevent damage, I always remove carb and fuel lines. The fuel lines on this tractor are a nightmare. Tank to fuel pump wraps around everything. Fuel pump to fuel filter under the carb apparently has to be installed as the manifold is bolted on. Small bolts that support the rear hood and fuel tank from the battery tray have loose nuts on the back. Fishing a 1/2" wrench in there to hold those nuts was fun. It will be just as much fun to install them, unless I can come up with something better. The valve cover had to come off to get one of the small bolts out of the dash. The larger bolts that secure the battery tray to the engine were difficult to access.

Hydraulic Pump

My tractor does not have anything like the "external hydraulic manifold" described in the service manual. Removing the four bolts that attach the hydraulic pump to the engine allowed the pump to be pulled up and tied out of the way with some wire. This allows just enough flex in the hydraulic lines to barely allow a socket to get on the two top bolts attaching the engine to the transmission. For some reason, these are a larger size socket than the hardware used for the four engine-to-transmission nuts and bolts.

Set-Up Engine Crane

Time to get the engine lift in place and supporting the engine weight. As the engine-to-transmission bolts come loose, check several times that the engine weight is supported, level, and not twisting. Move engine forward about 1/2" to release the dowel pins that align the engine and transmission. Make sure engine-to-transmission bolts are still loose and will come out with just fingers. Keeping the longest bolts in place, as dowels, will help guide the clutch straight-off the transmission input shaft without binding. Pulling the engine off is not nearly as hard as meshing those splines on the way back together. The dowels I made for the smaller engines and the V8 are not even close to the size needed to guide this engine back on.

Engine Ready to go on the Stand

[Image Engine on Hook]

The engine is off, and in the shop. The double-clutch assembly has to come off. The shop manual mentions several special tools that I could not even find decent pictures of. Browsing the various forums on-line I was able to verify that the clutch release levers can be tied or blocked down. Then the clutch assembly can be unbolted. As long as the assembly does not need to be serviced, all I will need is a pilot alignment tool to reassemble the clutch on the flywheel. I doubt if any pilot tool currently in my shop will fit.

[Image Tied Down Clutch Levers]

Safety wire looped thru the clutch assembly and over each lever worked fine. Pull tight as you go around. I ran a second piece in the opposite direction. If one is good enough two is cheap insurance.

Problem: The 5/8" hardware needed to bolt this engine to the stand will fit thru the brackets on my engine stand, and I do have four 5/8" Grade 5 bolts the correct length. However, the engine bolt hole spacing is about 1/2" wider than the brackets on my stand will reach. Bummer! My other engine stand is much lighter, but the engine plate and brackets are made to exactly the same dimensions. These engine stands are probably guaranteed to fit virtually any car or truck engine. This stand supported the flathead V8 with no trouble, so it should work for this "little" 3 cylinder. The engine plate will have to be altered, or maybe different brackets are available.

Adapters for the engine stand came from Merrick. They are longer than the brackets that came with my stands, but they only accept 1/2" hardware. A set of grade 5 bolts, 5-1/2" long will be used to attach the engine to the stand. The longer length brackets also allow the engine to sit lower, better balanced on the stand. It is still way too top-heavy to try rotating it. This little 3-cylinder is a very heavy casting with thick webbing.

Engine Disassembly

Follow the instructions in the manual, and take lots of pictures. Keep sorting/labeling hardware as it comes off. Rotate engine to Top-Dead-Center on the No.1 (front) cylinder. Remove distributor cap, and mark location of rotor on distributor housing, mark position of distributor on engine. Take photos.

[Image Distributor Marking]

The rocker arm assembly is secured in place by head bolts. Remove the entire rack assembly with the associated head bolts still in place. My manual says the bolts hold the thing together. I'm not planning to disassemble it. Set the whole thing on the workbench, and cover it with a rag. Each pushrod and lifter must go back in the hole it came out of. Find a way to mark and store them so they won't get mixed-up. The engine crane is still hooked to the cylinder head, and providing some support. Once the rest of the head bolts are out, and the head has been broken loose from the block, the engine crane can do the heavy lifting to get the cylinder head off and set aside. That removes enough weight that the engine can now be rotated on the stand without feeling like it is trying to get away from me. The first thing I see is the No.1 piston laying to one side of the bore, with a larger than usual gap on the opposite side.

[Image Piston Not Centered]

This explains the noisy engine. Rocking the crank back and forth shows that all pistons are loose and rocking in the cylinders. This is a Ford, so there is very little ridge at the top of the cylinders. Turn engine over, remove rod caps, protect journals from damage, and carefully pull each piston/rod assembly out. These also need to be marked/stored so they go back to teh same cylinder they came out of. Take pictures showing things like which way the pistons were turned.

[Image Piston and Rod Assemblies]

These were so big and heavy, I couldn't resist grabbing one of the old N-Tractor pistons to compare. These pistons are just plain weird. The earlier photo shows how the combustion chamber is actually a hollow part of the piston. Most pistons will have a slight dome or flat-top.

[Image Inside Cylinder]
[Image Inside Cylinder]

The cylinder walls look so bad it is hard to believe this engine could make enough compression to run well. Running a cylinder bore gauge down each cylinder found some good news, it looks like they can be honed to spec for 0.040" oversize pistons. That is the largest oversize made for this engine. If the damage had been much worse, this engine would have to go to a machine shop. Measuring the pistons confirms that they are also badly worn. There is a chance the old pistons may still be useful to someone. New pistons for this engine are around $150 each!

Complete the disassembly, keep things labeled and sorted so they go back in the exact same holes they came out of. Take pictures of things like timing gears and timing marks. Normal practice would be to remove everything, and take the bare block to a machine shop. This engine will not be going to a machine shop.


This is where most smart people will load up their stripped engine block and haul it to an engine shop. A decent engine shop has far better measuring tools, automated equipment, and the experience to do precision engine work. Machine shop prices are normally very reasonable for the work they do. Most engines being rebuilt will have suffered some sort of major failure. The engine may have been run hot. The engine may not have been running for many years. Anything that creates any question about the integrity of the block must be checked-out by a machine shop. They know how and where to check for cracks and other problems.

There is no mystery about the condition of this engine. It was running well, not overheating, just very noisy. This block needs to be bored and honed to fit oversize pistons. The cylinder bore gauge I used to confirm that 40-over pistons can be properly fitted in these cylinders is one of the special tools most people don't have, or know how to use properly. Another special tool is a rigid cylinder hone. This is NOT one of those cheap spring-loaded brake hones. A rigid cylinder hone has a rigid frame for the stones, and a micrometer adjustment to advance the stones to the cylinder walls. If you have the correct personality, and want to do engine work at home, two rigid cylinder hones that I know work well are the Sunnen AN-112 and the Lisle 15000. These hones are specifically designed to correct cylinder wear problems like taper, scoring, and out-of-round. With the right person running them, these hones are accurate to within one-half thousandth. A set of coarse (80-grit) stones can easily resize a cylinder enough to fit oversize pistons. It takes at least a 1/2" drill to run the rigid hone well. Even better is a large, low-speed, high-torque, industrial drill.

[Image of Special Measuring Tools]

Some of my special mesuring tools

The taper in these bores is from 4.2100" at the bottom, to a maximum of 4.2400" in a groove near the top of No.1 cylinder. All cylinders are worn slightly oval near the top. The cylinder bore size for 40-over pistons is 4.2407" - 4.2432" so there is just barely enough material left in cylinder No.1 to stay within specification, if the work is done very carefully. It will be difficult to hone the taper and oval out of cylinder No.1 without ending up too large for 40-over pistons. I love a challenge.

In this case, I decided to leave the crank in the block while honing. My biggest problem is running the hone too deep (can't see what I'm doing on that end). Wrapping a rag around the journal prevents the hone from making contact with the crank, and keeps some of the crud out. Turning the crank so the journal is as close as it gets, and centered on the bore will allow the stones to go a maximum of 1/2" out the bottom of the bore.

The coarse (80-grit) and medium (180-grit) stones can be run wet or dry. Honing fluid is a lubricant, as well as a coolant, and a cleaning fluid. With expensive automated equipment, honing fluid may be a must. With a portable hone, in a cast iron block, I choose to run coarse and medium stones dry. This cuts slower, may use up the stones faster, but allows me to frequently stop, rest, and measure the cylinder. Dry stones must remain clean. Any oil residue will gum up and prevent the stones from cutting. Completely clean the cylinder walls before honing. Adjust the stones so they apply medium pressure. Start at the bottom, 300 RPM, clockwise, and only move the hone enough to occasionally bring the stones fully into the bore. Work the bottom of the bore only. Stop and re-tension the stones frequently. Check the stones for any tapering, and correct that with a sanding block. Crooked stones will grind a crooked hole. Stones will wear fast at first. Once they match the bore diameter they wear much slower. I have not had any problem with stones not remaining square and true. The dark cylinder walls will become bright wherever the stones have begun cutting. As that pattern moves up the bore, take longer strokes with the hone. The taper and oval have been removed when the tension on the drill, moving up and down in the bore, equalizes. Don't forget to stop and measure in two directions at the top, middle, and bottom of the bore. Frequently stopping also reduces heat build-up.

[Image Inside Cylinder No.1]

Cylinder No.1 - Getting to this point was not "easy". It took close to an hour to bring the No.1 cylinder out close to where it needs to be. The dark patches are areas that were already worn into the acceptable range for 40-over pistons. Those areas will not be touched until medium and fine stones are being used.

[Image Inside Cylinders 1,2]

Cylinders 1 and 2 - Two cylinders looking good.

[Image Inside Cylinders 1,2,3]

Three cylinders looking good. Put the coarse stones away. Clean up the mess.

New pistons have been ordered, but were not in stock. They are 3-4 weeks away. A light coat of motor oil wiped on the cylinder walls will prevent rust while we wait for parts to be delivered. Leaving the crankshaft in place has worked well to keep the hone from going too deep. The next step will be fitting each piston to a cylinder. Now that the hone will be working the entire bore, the medium grit stones must be constantly moving in and out at the correct speed to begin creating the correct 45-degree crosshatch pattern. This crosshatch, final finish, and piston fit is where many people attempting this type of work will fail. Precision work must be done precisely. The final fitting and cylinder finishing must be as recommended by the manufacturers. There are no short cuts. Sloppy work is a complete waste of time and money. The new pistons must be labeled, measured, and properly fitted to each cylinder. Fine (280-grit) stones will be used (with plenty of honing fluid) for the final honing/fitting step.

Torque Plates - Just in case someone wants to raise this issue, I do not believe honing with a set of torque plates would make any difference with this extremely heavy, low compression, industrial tractor engine.


Content and Web Design by K. LaRue — This Site Was Last Updated 10 MAY 2018.

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