Ford 8N Tractor


This is my wife's 1949 Ford 8N tractor. We've had it since September 2010. With a small trailer hooked up behind it's great for hayrides for the kids and light duty work around the farm.

It could use a little paintwork, both on the tinwork and on the chassis itself. Additionally the steering needs attention (bushes, tie rod ends) and the brakes are vestigial owing to oil leaking onto the brake pads. But we're fond of her anyway. At some point I'll replace the tires front and rear but they're serviceable at the moment.

Rear view. Note that it has a triangle rather than the rear light installed. This is still a 6V positive earth tractor.

My very first repair job on the tractor, other than charging the battery, was to remove the starter and replace the Bendix drive. There was some minor wear on the flywheel ring gear but the Bendix itself was completely shot. I was pleased at how easy a job it was to replace the drive. I compressed the spring using the bench vise, and pin holding the drive in place virtually dropped out on its own ! In spite of dire warnings, while I was playing around with the new drive I managed to lock it in the thrown-out position but I installed it anyway and the first time I span it, it retracted to the resting position and disengaged from the ring.

A few weeks later I replaced the bodged-in starter switch with a proper keyswitch. The job took a couple of hours by the time I'd removed the tool box from under the hood, in order to gain access to the back of the switch and the point where the wiring is bolted on. I also replaced the headlamp switch, which was a toggle switch, with an original-style push-pull headlamp switch. Finally I replaced the gear lever gaiter with a new rubber one as the old one had perished.

I took the opportunity to grease all of the lubrication points around the steering and the three-point hitch at the rear.

I checked to see whether a thermostat had been fitted (by pinching the radiator top hose where it leaves the block) and, not finding one, decided to install one. It was common practice to remove the thermostat, but my feeling is that the engine should be allowed to come up to normal operating temperature in order for the engine oil to be able to do its job properly.

Status 2/22/2011

I have ordered all the parts required to complete the steering repairs. I have high-lift 6-ton stands from Harbor Freight and a trolley jack which will lift to 24". This should be enough to raise the front wheels off the ground while I disconnect the steering.

I started the tractor over the weekend and went for a short drive on it. All seems to be well and I took the opportunity to trickle charge the battery for a while.

Update August 2012

Thanks to the NIOSH CROPS program, we have now have a rollover bar and seat belt fitted to the tractor, at no charge to us. You can read about the NIOSH CROPS Program for Ford 8N Tractors here

Update September 2012

I replaced the battery with a similar unit from Tractor Supply over in Ringoes, NJ. The new battery has done a splendid job of holding its charge over the winter

Update 4/7/2013 - Starting Problems

I wanted to document some recent 8N starting problems and their resolutions. In 2012 the tractor developed a no-start fault. I traced the problem to arcing around the high-tension spring that pokes out of the coil. The insulated cover was badly charred around the HT point and that was causing the high voltage to leak to ground. A replacement coil resolved the problem. While I was working on that, I replaced the points. All seemed well and the tractor ran until November, when once again it stopped working. I left it over the winter and worked on it this past weekend. It turned out that the points gap had closed down from 0.015" to practically nothing. I reset the gap, and following a tip from one of the 8N web forums, used a dollar bill to clean the points as there is apparently some sort of coating or grease on them that presents ignition problems if it is not cleaned off.



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