We received over 800 photo entries and the results are in! Visit SteinerTractor.com/tractor-photo-winners to view the photos chosen to appear in our 2016 tractor parts catalog. See our choice of winners for the top three categories as well as many other winners for the multiple brands. The top three winners will receive their choice of either a $300 Steiner gift card or a $300 Shutterfly gift card. The other photos chosen for the 2016 catalog will receive a $25 Steiner gift card. Thank you for participating and we encourage you to participate in next year’s contest. Also watch your email for our 2nd Annual Calendar Photo Contest. Congratulations to all those chosen and thank you again to everyone who participated.
We received this story from Cassandra and couldn’t wait to share it. What a great story of a young lady with a love for tractor restoration and a heart open to helping others. Please share her story, she is a great example of our youth.
My name is Cassandra Gifford a recent graduate of Eufaula High School in the state of Alabama. I am currently a part of one of the greatest organizations available to youth, the FFA. Through FFA I have been blessed with many great opportunities, one involving restoring antique tractors. Being on the tractor restoration team for 3 years has inspired me to restore my own personal tractor. By restoring my own tractor it would allow me to get my American Degree, which is the highest award that you could achieve through FFA.
In the beginning the plan was to paint my tractor pink because not everyone has a PINK tractor and it would also keep my dad from using it to plant food plots for deer hunting. As my restoration progressed I would soon find out there would be a pink tractor competition through Fastline Publications, the best pink tractor submitted in August would gain the cover of the October addition in honor of breast cancer. After having heard about the disease I wanted to learn more about it, in doing so I found out more people were affected by this than I originally thought
I figured by using my tractor as a tool to somehow educate and give people hope and courage it would make a difference in their life. I work closely with Medical Center Barbour and Relay For Life and many other cancer related organizations. My tractor has been to many different fundraising events including the National Peanut Festival, Eufaula Pilgrimage, Indian Summer, Champions of Hope, and many other events. All funds donated are put into the Medical Center Barbour Breast Cancer Fund. As a female I’m aware of the risks and the sacrifices of Breast Cancer. While interviewing several Breast Cancer survivors I found out it was closer to home than I originally thought. Millions of women are diagnosed every year. Inspired by these stories I knew I wanted to restore this 1952 Ford 8n tractor in the name of Breast Cancer.
This tractor and someone diagnosed with Breast Cancer has a similar resemblance, the tractor on the outside looked to have no hope but with a lot of hard work and external modifications there would be a second chance. Seeing the tractor for the first time in its condition I knew it was going to be a lot of work. I have now restored it to its new second chance on life in hopes it will inspire Breast Cancer survivors that they too can have a second chance on life.
Throughout my project I have been able to make so many new relationships, help those in need as well as spread the word about my love for the FFA. My pink tractor now has its place on the Front cover of the Fastline Magazine for the October edition for 2014. My tractor has also been traveling to different fundraising events all over the state of Alabama. At each event that Hope and I have attended we have earned donations for this cause and we continue to do so as we want to find the cure and end the fight.
My goal throughout this project has been to help those in need and inspire others to help as well. This restoration would have never been possible without being involved in FFA, having an advisor like Mr. Buster Padgett, supportive parents, and many others such as: Eufaula High School, Titan Tires, Steiner Tractor Parts, Fastline Magazine Publications, NAPA Bennett Auto Parts, HG Auto Paint, Eufaula Iron Works, and Herndon Tire Company.
Many of us know Harry Ferguson’s name from early farm tractors. His invention of the hydraulic three-point system and handshake agreement with Henry Ford to put it into production has made the Irish innovator a household name here in America (at least, “household name” in the sort of household I grew up in!).
But before Harry Ferguson made it to this apex of innovation, he had to challenge two prevailing beliefs about tractors and their implements. His need to innovate was spurred on by World War 1, as Germany’s U-Boat campaign blocked ships with needed food from reaching Great Britain. The Irish Board of Agriculture asked Ferguson and an associate to work on improving the efficiency of Ireland’s tractors, giving Ferguson the driving need and the means to kick his innovation into high gear.
After making an extensive survey of Ireland’s agricultural practices, Ferguson determined that the problem wasn’t with the tractors – it was with the implements. He pinpointed the plow in particular as the biggest roadblock in agricultural production. So in order to improve efficiency as quickly as possible, Ferguson decided to attack the implement situation.
Along the way to a better implement system, Ferguson uncovered two central truths about tractors and their attachments. While these truths may seem completely obvious to us today, they represented a major adjustment to the way farmers operated in the early 1900s. Here are the two truths Ferguson uncovered that proved foundational to our modern farming techniques:
- Plows are not one-size-fits-all. In Ferguson’s time, tractor-specific implements were few and far between – many farmers continued to use the same plow their horses had been pulling the year before. This created an incredibly inefficient situation. The plow design that is best for horses isn’t necessarily the best for a tractor, and the size and horsepower of a tractor makes a big difference in its pulling power.
- The tractor and the implement work together as a unit. Plows (and all implements, for that matter) in Ferguson’s time were often simply trailed along behind the tractor like a wagon. Common designs had their own wheels and were very heavy, using the implement’s own weight to break through the earth. Ferguson challenged this presupposition, designing a lightweight plow to match the equally light Eros tractor (a conversion of the Model T Ford). Instead of being passively pulled behind, the plow attached rigidly to the tractor.
Together, these two truths became the backbone of Ferguson’s “unit principle.” He demonstrated his new tractor-and-plow setup in November of 1917. While his early design seems crude to our modern eyes, it was revolutionary in its time. On demonstration day, Ferguson plowed at 2 ½ miles per hour – a rate that was four times of what a team of horses could accomplish.
In the years to come, Ferguson would expand on these early principles and develop the three-point system we use today. Of course, Ferguson wasn’t the only person to ever make these observations – many of his contemporaries were coming to the same conclusions themselves in this time period. But Ferguson, more than anyone else, transformed these observations into workable solutions (the 3-point hitch) that are still in use around the world today.
Here are the Top 8 Reasons why I love the Ford 8N:
- Made in Michigan. These beauties were manufactured in Highland Park, Michigan – less than 100 miles away from my hometown.
- Easy to get parts. With more than a half million 8N tractors produced, it’s easy to find aftermarket and original parts for a restoration project.
- 3-point hitch. The 8N tractor marked the end of the handshake agreement between Henry Ford and Harry Ferguson, but it still included a 3-point hitch (Ferguson’s invention). While the design was updated from the original 9N and 2N, there were enough similarities that Ford had to pay a $9.2 million settlement for copyright infringement to Ferguson. Having the 3-point hitch was essential to the 8N’s success though – a price that Ford was willing to pay.
- Easy to get on and off. Compared to my dad’s favorite tractor (The Farmall H), the 8N tractor is a breeze to mount.
- Easy to drive. No doubt I’m one of thousands of kids who learned how to drive on a Ford 8N. They are simple to operate and a good size for mature youth to start with.
- Easy to repair. Unlike today’s advanced and complicated machinery, Ford designed a tractor that the farmer would be able to repair himself. Most repairs can be made with just a couple sizes of wrenches and other common shop tools.
- Implements! Such a huge variety of implements are available for the 8N tractor – it’s hard to imagine a task that there isn’t an implement for.
- Classic color scheme. The red and gray is my favorite tractor color combo – but it looks good in pink, too!
Henry Ford was a powerhouse of an inventor, registering hundreds of patents during his lifetime. Many of his inventions were key to the transformation of American agriculture, but plenty of others never made it off the drawing board. One of these forgotten projects is a design for an adjustable height tractor.
The tractor was a narrow-front design that allowed for the independent raising and lowering of each of the rear wheels and the front end. The idea was to provide for maximum versatility in a tractor. When raised, the tractor would have the clearance necessary for cultivating crops. When lowered, drawbar strength increased. When plowing, the farmer could even adjust the rear wheels independently of one another to level out the tractor as it drove in the furrow. Ford also mentioned that the narrow front axle could be replaced with a conventional axle when needed.
Ford applied for the patent in 1939, and it was awarded in 1941. No doubt wartime rationing and shortages limited Ford from working out the kinks in his design. Once the war was over, Ford’s tractors were in such high demand that he could sell on reliability alone – no need for special projects like this to boost sales.
To learn more about Henry Ford’s design, you can read the text of the original patent application here (this is also the site where the diagram photos originated from). If Ford had figured out how to put this tractor into production, would you buy it?
Last Friday the BF Avery Collectors and Associates gathered in Davison Michigan at the Best Western for their Winter meeting and a day of tractor fun. After the morning meeting the group was picked up in a bus furnished by Steiner Tractor Parts with a first stop in Hadley Michigan at Chuck Schneider’s. Chuck owns one of the biggest Orchard tractor collections in the country, and many neon signs and other collectibles. It was a rare privilege to be invited to see this private collection and hear Chuck’s stories about how he came across these restored tractors.
After the tour at Schneider’s the group loaded back on the bus and headed to Steiner Tractor Parts in Lennon for a quick tour of the warehouse and store, an overview of how things are run and a history of how things began.
It was a great afternoon full of old iron history and stories of these antique tractors. Rows of Orchard, Vineyard and Grove tractors, an aluminum Ford, John Deere, Case, Oliver, McCormick-Deering, Massey Harris, Love Tractor, to the rare 1938 Minneapolis Moline UDLX with and without the cab.
Some more pictures, sent in from Mark Cunningham of the BF Avery Group. Thanks Mark.
These gold demonstrator tractors were produced to promote Ford’s new Select-O-Speed transmission. Each Ford dealer was intended to have at least one gold demonstrator tractor, however, there is some argument as to whether every single dealer actually got one. Some sources say that they were forced to order at least one, other sources say that some dealers flat-out refused to participate. At this time in history there were well over 2,000 dealers so quite a few Ford tractors were painted gold for demonstration purposes.
Research also shows that the vast majority of gold demonstrators have select-o-speed transmissions and low serial numbers. However, some of the dealers who were late to comply with the gold demonstrator program received later serial numbers. Research also suggests that some dealers also ordered different configurations, including standard gear shift tractors. I’ve never seen one of these, though – all the gold demonstrators I’ve seen have select-o-speed transmissions and early serial numbers from 1959.
Salesmen were encouraged to take these tractors around to visit local farmers. With the farmer’s permission, the salesman would work alongside the farmer – hopefully proving that the Ford tractor was superior to the farmer’s John Deere, Farmall, etc. When a farmer purchased a gold tractor they could elect to have it re-painted to red/gray or they could keep it gold. Because we don’t (at least to my knowledge) have reliable records of the serial numbers of tractors that were used as demonstrators, we rely on uncovering the original paint to determine if the tractor was a demonstrator. How fun to discover a true gold demonstrator tractor!
These tractors were expertly restored and consigned by Jeff Cormany from Columbia City, Indiana. He was kind enough to let me drive the 871 through the auction. The Ford 881 sold first for $11,000 plus 4% buyer’s premium. It had new tires, a rebuilt engine and power steering. The restoration was quality all around. The Ford 871 bidding ended at $7,500 which was shy of the reserve. This tractor, too, had new tires, a rebuilt engine and power steering.
How about you – have you ever seen one of these gold demonstrator tractors? Let me know in the comments below.
Do the brakes on your Ford function improperly? Watch this free instructional video demonstrating the installation of brake shoes on a Ford 600. In this newest series of tractor repair videos offered exclusively online at SteinerTractor.TV Rachel Gingell shows you helpful tips when installing new brakes. Watch as Rachel takes you through the installation from start to finish. You can also watch more #WrenchingwithRachel videos on our Tractor Repair Video page.
One of the most popular tractors of all time, the Ford N-series tractor is an American icon. More than fifty years after the last 8N rolled off the assembly line, these tractors are still incredibly popular. You’ll see them all over – at auction sales and dealerships, but also alongside the road with a “For Sale” sign, at garage sales, and even at your favorite restaurant on date night (true story – as often as we’ve had to go home to get a trailer, we should really learn not to leave home without them!).
As beloved as factory original N-series tractors are, I’ve seen plenty that are rather… unique. Like the one I bought from an old hippie that was painted bright yellow, with flowers all over the hood. I thought I’d have to repaint it, but before I got around to doing so it was spotted by another customer who just LOVED the paint job. Problem solved, no paint required!
For a more serious collector, though, being able to identify exactly which of the N-style tractors (9N, 2N, or 8N) you’re looking at is very important. While we’ve gone into specific details about the year-to-year improvements in N-series tractors before (click here), today I’m going to give you a quick “field guide” to determining the model of an N-series tractor.
First, a quick history lesson: the 9N was introduced in 1939. It was followed by the 2N in 1942, and early models were greatly impacted by wartime rationing. Once the war was over, a new and much improved 8N was introduced in 1948.
As my hippie tractor will demonstrate, paint color can’t always be counted on. But since it is the first and most obvious clue available, you should know that 9N and 2N tractors were painted all grey, while a red and grey paint job was for 8N tractors. Plenty of people are unaware of this, though, and will paint their 9N or 2N red and grey as well. So don’t trust the paint job too much.
9Ns and 2Ns are rather similar, but there are some big differences between them and the 8N. So it’s easiest to see if you have an 8N first, and save the smaller 9N v. 2N differences for later.
You are definitely looking at an 8N tractor if:
- The rear wheel is dished, with a large nut in the center surrounded closely by 8 more lug nuts. In contrast, both the 9N and 2N models have a flat rear wheel with a ring of 6 lug nuts further out.
- There’s a 4-speed transmission. 9N and 2N tractors had a 3-speed.
- The hydraulic 3-point arms have a halfway position between fully “up” and “down”. 9N and 2N tractors only had draft control. The 8N introduced position control, which is a small up/down handle under the seat on the right side–this was an improvement to the hydraulic system.
- Both brake pedals are on the same side – 9N and 2N tractors were split.
- The serial number starts with an “8N.” I know this seems obvious, but it is important to note that both 9N and 2N serial numbers start with a “9N,” leading to confusion.
Of course, the 8N had plenty of other improvements over the 9N and the 2N – but these features are the easiest to spot and the hardest to modify.
If the tractor definitely isn’t an 8N, then you’ll need to examine more closely the differences between a 9N and a 2N. This can be hard to do, because the transition between the 9N and the 2N wasn’t as clean-cut as the transition to the 8N later on. Wartime rationing and a desire to reduce waste lead to a slower switch, as features were modified once the previous model’s parts were used up.
That being said, here are some clues that can help in most cases:
- If the tractor has a cast aluminum hood and/or a starter switch on the right side of the dash, congratulations! You’re probably looking at one of the first 9Ns produced – rare and highly collectible.
- Tubular radius arms indicate a 2N produced after mid-1944. All N-series tractors built prior to 1944 (every 9N and some 2Ns) had I-beam radius arms. However, 2Ns with I-beam radius arms are rather rare, so chances are good that any tractor with I-beam arms is a 9N.
- If the dipstick is on the inspection cover, you are definitely looking at a later 2N.
- If the serial number is readable, don’t assume that a “9N” prefix indicates a 9N tractor – as noted before, 2N tractors used this prefix as well. You’ll need to look up the entire number in a serial number guide (or my app!) to know for sure.
The dividing line is a little soft between a 9N and a 2N tractor. If these tips don’t give you a conclusive answer and the serial number isn’t readable, this article might help you figure out exactly what your tractor is.
But sometimes, you might have to settle for a 19N (9+2+8) – that’s what my family jokingly calls an N-series tractor that, over the years, has gained features from each model rather than staying true to it’s specific characteristics. The beauty of N-series tractors is that they are very common and very similar – this yields a steady stream of aftermarket modifications and parts swapping from one model to the next. While these happy hybrids with mixed parts and unreadable serial numbers might make purists cringe, I think Henry Ford would be happy to see his legacy of ingenuity and tinkering live on.
Steiner Tractor Parts is excited to announce we are the title sponsor of the Bluegrass Antique Super Pull in Richmond Kentucky March 20-21, 2015. If you are looking for a pull check out the long list of BoB (Battle of the Bluegrass) shows. Locations are in Kentucky and surrounding states; Indiana, Tennessee, Michigan and West Virginia and run thru October. Check out the details at http://www.bluegrasspulling.com/heritage-series/