This web site is for new owners of antique tractors, especially Ford, N-Series tractors built from 1939 to 1952. Everything is completely free of charge. There is no sales pitch, and no hidden "members only" content. There is even an INDEX.
Please forgive the in-line ads, they are what allows this site to remain completely free.
This is where you might expect to see something like, "No tractors or humans were injured by the projects and activities described on this web site". Unfortunately, that would not be true. In fact, several tractors have been completely disassembled. Parts of some tractors were used to repair other tractors. Some parts have been sold to the highest bidder. [Tractor parts, not human parts] Playing with tractors, rusty fasteners, welders, hand, and power tools will never be completely safe. We can try to be safe, but accidents happen. A supply of Band-Aids and antiseptic in the shop will save many trips thru the house for minor repairs. Your spouse will be happier if some of the grease and blood stays outside. If it has been more than 10 years since your last tetanus booster, have a doctor bring your immunizations up to date. If you choose to use the information published on this web site, please understand and take responsibility for the inherent risks.
Antique gasoline tractors can be a lot of fun (and good therapy) for an "enthusiast" who likes to tinker on them. It takes a lot of maintenance to keep any antique gas-engine running well, so please be advised:
Normal, healthy people should not buy an old gasoline tractor.
Normal, healthy people will not have any fun working on an old gas-engine tractor.
Normal, healthy people will spend way too much for "professional" service and will never be happy.
Normal, healthy people will be much happier with a small diesel tractor.
When I decided to purchase my first 8N tractor, small diesel tractors were almost twice as much money. That is no longer true. Anyone just looking for a good used tractor can now find one of the small diesel machines for only a few hundred dollars more than any gas engine tractor will cost. Don't just buy the first tractor that fits your budget. Make sure you are buying a machine that will do what you need it to do and doesn't require service you don't already know how to do.
First-time tractor owners should have lots of questions. Please do not be too embarassed to get a quick lesson in tractor operation from the salesman or previous owner. The only stupid question is the one that could have saved time, money, or prevented an injury. Get The Manuals! It is unfortunate that most modern manuals are poorly-translated Chinese, with any useful information completely buried by warning and caution statements. Most of us toss the useless manuals in the trash with the packaging. That was not the case when these tractors were built. The Operator's Manuals are very well written, and loaded with very helpful information.
"Get the Manuals" appears in many places on this site. This generates no revenue for me, it's just my best advice for the new owner of any machine. The Operator's Manual, Shop Manuals, Parts Books, and other printed information for most tractors are easy to find on Amazon and other sites. The images below are links to a site that sells manuals on CD.
Many of the vintage tractor and implement manuals have been out of print for many years. Thankfully, many are available for FREE download from places like the MANUALS area at:
Parts are very easy to find for the Ford N-Series tractors. All 9N, 2N, 8N and NAA tractors share a lot of interchangable parts. It helps that Ford sold well over a million of them (if we include the NAA in the series). It was much more difficult (and expensive) to find parts for my 1971 Ford 3000 tractor. Normal service parts (such as filters, hoses, points, plugs) are very reasonably priced. Buy good new parts from someplace like just8ns.com. Shopping cheapest price for new parts will only buy junk that looks new, but won't fit well or last (if it works at all). New restoration quality parts such as sheetmetal, headlights, and castings are getting expensive. Used original parts generally fit better and are much cheaper. The best trick to finding good used parts is to catch the right ads on ebay. I have bought and sold used parts on ebay for many years with mostly good results. For the best retail new parts follow the various links provided on my LINKS PAGE.
If you got here searching for free wiring diagrams, all of my 6 volt and 12 volt tractor wiring diagrams can be found and downloaded from my MAIN 12 VOLT PAGE. My diagrams were published a few years ago when it was difficult to find any. Things soon got much better. If you are electrically challenged in any way, I highly recommend getting the Pictograms created by JMOR. These are photos of actual parts with wiring shown.
No.1—1948-49 Ford 8N with 1940 9N Engine (parted out).
No.2—1952 Ford 8N (Working Tractor).
No.3—1946 Ford-Ferguson 2N (Working Tractor).
No.4—1951 Ford 8N (V8-8N Project).
No.5—1971 Ford 3000 (Working Tractor-SOLD).
This Is My Main Ford 8N Tractor Web Site. These web pages cover Ford N-Series Tractor Repairs, Parts, Tool Kit, 6 volt wiring, 12 volt conversions, free wiring diagrams, paint colors, tune up, Marvel/Schebler carb tuning, and a bunch of other related stuff. There is a lot of information available here. The best way to find anything on this site is to click the Index A-Z button found at the top of every page. As you can see from the last entry on my list of tractors, this site does have some information for "newer" Ford tractors up to around 1975.
If you are looking for Ford tractor restoration information, that is not what this site is about. There is some accurate information regarding correct Paint Colors, but this site is really about tractors that still work for a living. A fully-restored tractor, with every detail exactly as originally manufactured, is a fine thing to have. I admire folks who do those beautiful restorations. Going to that level would make me afraid to use the tractor for anything but the occasional parade.
This is a picture of my first REAL tractor, May 18, 2005.
It was obviously neglected, the radiator was leaking, air cleaner was dry, fluids were dirty, hoses and tires not so good, and the steering was very loose. On the plus side; it started on the first try, ran great, and the hydraulics worked. My "new" tractor was a 48 or 49 FORD 8N. After a more detailed inspection, the engine serial number was for a 1940 9N tractor. All the other castings, sheet metal, and parts were standard 1948 or 1949 8N tractor parts. That isn't a typo, the engine block really is a 1940 9N.
All I wanted was a small tractor to maintain our driveway, and maybe do a few other chores on our 12 acre, mostly-wooded property. This is where background music should start playing "Another One Bites The Dust". What should have been a relatively simple purchase, mushroomed into a full-blown hobby, disease, or obsession (depending on who you talk to). Honestly, all I wanted was a used tractor! How did I end up creating, and maintaining this web site?
1 Prior to the research that led to my first tractor purchase, I knew very little about farm tractors, and absolutely nothing about creating or managing a web site.
2 Searching for the basic tractor information was difficult. There was a genuine need for a site that was dedicated to the simple stuff a tractor newbee like me needed to know.
3 Most on-line forums are very scary places for a newbee to start asking questions.
4 One big problem with the internet is the total freedom to post BS. Every forum question generates a list of replies that have to be run thru a filter.
5 Filtering BS for good information is almost an art form.
6 Paper manuals take up a lot of space and do not survive long in a barn. A small laptop, tablet, or even a cell phone provides easy access to far more information.
7 So, I created a web site for disassembly photos, information, and PDF manuals.
This photo was taken on July 10, 2005 after about six weekends of work, including normal weekend chores (some chores were neglected).
NEW PARTS included a Made-in-China Radiator (that almost fit), Rear Wheels and Tires, Fuel Line, Hoses, Gauges, Lights, Wiring, 12 Volt Battery, Battery Cables, and a Seat Cushion.
REPAIRS included adjusting the steering box, changing fluids and filters, welding up rust holes in the air filter oil cup, 12 volt conversion, lots of scraping, cleaning, priming, and painting. This was a lot of work, but new wheels and tires were the only big expense. Most of this was low or no cost maintenance that should have been done anyway. This work found and fixed many things before they could cause problems like won't crank, no spark, no fuel, no power... A reliable machine is not an accident. Neglect is the mother of all problems.
I liked the metallic silver and felt it was better than making a poor attempt to match the "correct" Ford gray. Any paint will keep it from rusting. In the future, I intend to try a little harder to match the original colors. This was intended to be a "working" tractor, not a restoration.
These pictures were taken Feb. 12, 2006 after clearing a little snow. That was Fun! It definitely was helpful having a few months of normal chores like grading the driveway before having to deal with snow and ice.
Sadly, my attempts to provide video tutorials were only a lesson in things like how to bash thumbs. Years later we have Derek at Just8N's & More to thank for some truly helpful and informative how-to videos. Check them out at: https://www.youtube.com/@Just8Ns.
You may have noticed the vertical exhaust in some photos. Many people prefer the original exhaust, under the right footboard. Which system you prefer may depend on how you use your tractor or just appearance. If you nearly always operate in second gear or higher, the low exhaust may be better. I prefer the vertical exhaust for several reasons:
1 - Exhaust Fumes were a frequent problem when running a blade in reverse or using stationary implements.
2 - The low exhaust would heat the right lower lift arm and implement hot enough to burn fingers when changing implements.
3 - The low exhaust can be a fire hazard when running a bushhog in tall grass and weeds.
4 - The muffler will heat the right footboard (Winter = Good, Summer = Bad).
5 - On wooded trails the vertical exhaust clears cobwebs. That is better than using my face.
6 - Deer flies are a real nuisance. They usually attack the head and neck of any human or beast and they are attracted by heat and motion. Three or four flies attacking that muffler is three or four not attacking me.
The vertical pipe has it's own set of drawbacks:
1 - The vertical pipe will catch low-hanging limbs.
2 - It is not Original.
3 - In some conditions the vertical pipe can form a cloud of exhaust fumes right at nose level.
4 - It can be easier to burn fingers with more of the exhaust easy to reach.
5 - Hot exhaust pipe wraps around carb. This could cause problems with fuel flow on a really hot day.
This is not intended to be a complete list of pros and cons. There are many additional reasons for or against either option. The low exhaust being original is reason enough for most people to keep it that way. Some prefer the vertical for no reason other than it's different. Go ahead and have it your way. Most of our property is wooded. The low branch problem is easily solved by trimming branches. There are some one-piece vertical pipe kits, but most kits sold on-line will be in pieces. It's much less expensive to ship things broken down into a smaller package. I actually prefer the kits in pieces. It is easier to modify individual pieces the way I want and easier/cheaper to replace the muffler and vertical stack if/when they get damaged. Install the "U" shaped bottom pipe to the manifold first, while attaching the clamp to a head bolt to support the other end of the "U". Make this assembly as sturdy as possible. Using a thinner gauge vertical pipe for the stack going up from the support brace provides a "fuse" that will bend or break if the exhaust does get caught on something. Build it so the vertical pipe and muffler can bend or tear completely free without doing any damage to the bottom part of the system. The flathead engine isn't all that loud without a muffler, so I can finish working and deal with repairs later. Reinstalling the vertical pipe and muffler is easy and often zero cost.
This is my home-made backhoe attachment. This was designed specifically to fit my Ford 8N tractor, and fits much better than any of the aftermarket ones. Built in 2005, it has proven to be very useful. It was certainly a major project. There were a few design flaws. Most were easily fixed. Additional Photos and information about the backhoe are on my Backhoe Page. Update, hoses last about 10 years max. Keep an eye on the condition of all hoses and replace rotten ones before they spring a leak and provide a hot oil shower.
This tractor was for sale in the nearby town of Charlottesville, for a much better price than my first tractor. The roll-back dropped it in our driveway on 01-JUN-2006. It's a nearly original 1952 8N with mostly straight sheetmetal. It still had the 6-volt system, and the generator was charging. Oil pressure looked great, and steering was tight, but the brakes were really messed up, and the exhaust stack was leaking. You can find step-by-step photos and descriptions of the repairs HERE..
My wife spotted this tractor for sale "with implements" right down the road. It was close enough to drive it home, and we only had to cross one major road. Some of the sheetmetal on this one is not original. This tractor was converted to 12 volts, but the alternator was not charging. Oil pressure looked great, and steering was reasonably tight. I saw lots of recently replaced parts like starter, carb, drag links, etc. It also came with a box of old parts. Step-by-step photos and descriptions of the repairs to this one are on my 46-2N Repairs Page - HERE. Be prepared for a saga, the 2N took over a year to finish, mostly because I already had a working tractor.
A deal I couldn't pass up. This looked like an ebay auction that was going to sell very low, and it was not too far away. The ad was for a 9N. The pictures were obviously an 8N. This one became my flathead V8-8N project - HERE.. If the 2N was a saga, this became an epic adventure that provided countless hours of quality shop time.
It took a while but I finally found a second original bumper for the 2N. It looked so good, I had to add the bottom rail back on the 8N bumper. The photo of the 8N also shows one version of my tree pusher. This is attached to the frame of my cutter and is much better than using the tractor bumper and headlights to push saplings over.
The cutter is a 5-footer that I fixed, and keep fixing. The blade hardware was so completely frozen, the only way it was ever going to come loose was with a cutting torch. Since the bolts won't move, the only way to keep the blades from sagging was to keep adding weld beads to the stump jumper. After 8 years of use I finally bought a new stump jumper, blades, and bolts for about $200. The center bolt for the whole assembly wasn't too hard to remove, so it all came off at the same time. A piece of used conveyor rubber across the front does a good job knocking down missiles a cutter tends to launch out the front. For it's size this cutter is fairly easy to maneuver in the woods. The rear corners are cut on a diagonal. It will slip past obstacles much better than other cutters that are just a big square box. The "tree pusher" bumper worked well, but I stopped bothering with it once there were fewer saplings to run over.
My original decision to buy a Ford 8N Tractor was not by accident. Mostly it was for economic reasons. Something larger than my Craftsman mower was obviously needed, but we could not afford to spend over $6000 for a new tractor. CLICK HERE for my list of pros and cons that justified my original decision to buy a Ford 8N. If I was to do the same research today, I would buy one of the small diesel tractors. Prices have really come down on those in teh last 10 years or so.
A more recent photo taken March 2017. I was using the logging chain to drag a few dead pines.
Which one would you pick?
No, it didn't come with a warranty. Yes, I am a sick person, who needs lots of therapy.
Not long after the initial cosmetic improvements, poking around the wiring harness revealed a hot-wired oil pressure light. The wire to the oil pressure sending unit was removed and connected to a generator terminal. This was no accident. This was intentionally done to cause the oil light to appear to show normal oil pressure. At this point, there is no way to prove who did it, and it's been too many weeks to go back to the dealer with a tractor that was purchased AS-IS. No oil pressure is something the dealer should have noticed when they serviced the tractor, but the hot-wired oil light did appear to show normal operation. After replacing the oil pump and pump drive shafts, oil pressure is back, but some damage has been done. It runs good and will pull a blade. We will see how it goes from here. 1971 Ford 3000 Tractor Repairs.
UPDATE: The lack of oil pressure did cause significant cylinder and bearing wear that ultimately required a complete engine rebuild. This was by far the heaviest engine I have ever worked on. The rebuild required fitting oversize pistons. To save cost (and prove it was possible) all engine work was done in my garage with hand tools. With a fresh engine, the tractor proved to be much more powerful than I needed. The tractor was sold before anything painful happened. Complete details can be found at the link above.
This 2005 Polaris Ranger should be perfect on our narrow wooded trails. It's not as wide as my 5-foot cutter, so any trail I can get thru with the tractor should be accessible. I will install a winch before attempting the creek crossing that tried to claim one of the tractors earlier this summer.
The tractor went across fine, but got stuck coming back.
Heavy rains and rising waters became a real concern when it took a few days to get down there with the other tractor, winch, chains and straps. We got it out with no damage, but I started thinking about getting something with 4 wheel drive.
The Ranger is far from new and it has a few warts, but seems sturdy and easy to work on. Some soft doors will be added to enclose the cab this winter for cutting and hauling firewood. Of course there is now a POLARIS RANGER page.
If you are attempting to bring a tractor back from the dead, please follow this link for a list of steps to prevent damage. DRY ENGINE
These old tractors are very reliable and easy to work on. They often continue to start and run for many months with little or no maintenance. Eventually, neglect will take it's toll. Many of the messages I get from people having problems start something like, "it started acting up last year, and now it won't start". Most of these tractors are way behind on basic maintenance. The good news is they are usually simple to repair, and much of the maintenance is zero cost. If you get in over your head or just have questions, here are the best sources of Ford 9N, 2N, 8N Tractor information that I have found.
FIRST, before you do anything else, get a copy of the owners manual and the I&T FO-4 shop manual for your tractor. Both are readily available from Amazon, ebay, and others. You can get hard-copy reprints, electronic manuals on CD, and even original manuals. The information and diagrams in these manuals should be the first place you look for answers. The images below are linked to the site that sells manuals on CD. That's what I use.
Here's another link to some digital manuals, if your tractor is a 1000 series or newer. agmanuals.com. This site was just getting started when I put up this link. He should have more manuals available now.
Sooner or later you will hit something that is not covered in the manuals. Check out the links below and additional resources on my LINKS PAGE. Search the archives or help areas of other linked sites and you will probably find all the help you need. If not, post a question on one of the forums. You will find a bunch of nice folks who are more than happy to help. These are the best sources of Ford N-Series tractor how-to information I have found. The people who use these forums are usually very friendly, knowledgable, and helpful tractor people. Just remember that free advice is sometimes worth exactly what you paid for it. As long as you stick around, and read enough to avoid the occasional brain fade or typo, 99% of the advice you get on these sites is the best information you will find, anywhere.
My comment about "free advice" applies to this site as well. If you find any errors, Please don't hesitate to contact me. I've added a contact form to my CONTACT PAGE.
What do we know about, The Force?
It can have a strong influence on the weak-minded,
The Force is what gives a Jedi his power,
It has a light side and a dark side,
It surrounds us and protects us,
It binds the galaxy together...
What EXACTLY is The Force?
Hmmm....It's Duct Tape!
So, Now you know.
Jedi (Master of Duct Tape)
"Very good, young padawan, but you still have much to learn."
"A Jedi must have the deepest commitment, the most serious mind."
"Do, or do not, there is no try."
"Patience you must have, young padawan."
"Truly wonderful, the mind of a child is."
"When gone am I, the last of the Jedi you will be."
"Always pass on what you have learned."
One of my favorite quotes from the original movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, "A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men."
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