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Repair the loose steering on your Ford tractor

2015-Ford-Steering-Video-Side

 

 

Does the steering on your Ford tractor need repairing? Watch this free instructional video demonstrating a complete steering gearbox replacement on a Ford 8N. The same technique can be used on a Ford Jubilee, NAA, 600, 800, 2000 4-cyl., and 4000 4-cyl. In this newest series of tractor repair videos offered online at SteinerTractor.TV Rachel takes you step by step to disassemble your dash and to install the new steering gearbox and drag links. She also shares helpful tips along the way to achieve straight steering. Start watching today >>

Muscle Up Your Classic Ford Tractor

 

There’s something beautiful about a perfectly restored Ford 8N tractor – but there’s a big soft spot in my heart for a V8 conversion job! It’s one of my favorite custom projects that we’ve done in the shop. Here’s a quick walk-through of conversion kits and the basic steps you’d need to take to muscle up your own Ford 8N tractor. With a proper conversion, you can get an 8N tractor up to 100 horsepower!

 

This tractor was converted by Gary Gray of New Jersey.

This tractor was converted by Gary Gray of New Jersey.

 

You’ll find tractors on the market today that were converted to a V8 using a kit produced by Funk Manufacturing (which was primarily in the aviation business, aka Funk Aviation or Funk Aircraft) of Coffeyville, Kansas. Dealers sometimes bought the kits and converted new tractors themselves, while others were purchased by farmers who already owned an N and wanted to increase their tractor’s power. Funk marketed these kits directly to farmers – my favorite slogan from their literature is “A Husky Beauty with Power to Spare!”

 

These conversion kits were in high demand in the late 40s and early 50s as farmers began to demand more horsepower. The introduction of the 8N wasn’t enough for farmers who wanted to use a 3-bottom plow. Ford couldn’t supply more power fast enough, so these conversion kits became popular. A fire in the Funk factory destroyed many records, so we’re unsure just how many conversion kits were produced. While I’m writing specifically about V8 conversions, Funk also made 6-cylinder conversion kits. Eventually, the blossoming popularity of these kits and the demand from the farmers lead to the Golden Jubilee tractor, which spelled the end of the conversion kits.

 

While other manufacturing companies have made (and continue to make) conversion kits, the Funk Conversion is probably the most common. Sometimes people will refer to any V8 conversion as a “Funk Conversion,” but a true Funk-manufactured conversion kit has some telltale signs, like a cast iron oil pan, a bump in the hood near the dash, and notable raised and extended hood. Funk kits are no longer in manufacture, but can sometimes be found at auction sales.

Ford 8N Conversion Tractor

 You don’t need a special kit to do a conversion, though – in fact, it can be a lot of fun to strike out on your own! With some solid fabrication skills (and access to a machine shop), you can muscle up your own N-series tractor.

Ford 8N Funks conversion in progress

 

There are a lot of things to take into consideration in doing your own conversion. Here’s a list (that doesn’t include everything!) to get you started.

 

  • Choose a flat head engine (without a cast iron bellhousing).
  • You’ll have to stretch the entire tractor to accommodate the longer engine – including the radius arms, steering components, and the hood.
  • The radiator will need two water inlets and outlets. Overheating is a common problem with these conversions. I recommend using a radiator from a 9N with a bigger tank on top, cutting two holes in it so that both water pumps from the flat head engine are operable.
  • Get creative with the gas tank. You can either make it smaller to fit under the hood, or put it somewhere else – the fenders, behind the back seat, longways inside the hood, etc.

Gas tank Ford 8N V8

  • Anything goes with the carburetor! I’ve seen successful conversions with a tri-power, dual quads, or a single carburetor.

Tripple barrel carb

  • Offenhauser or Edelbrock aluminum heads are popular, but this is another area where you can have some fun and get creative.

Alluminum heads Ford 8N

  • Exhaust can be a challenge, but it’s worth figuring out how to make a dual exhaust. Many companies offer kits that you can use.
  • You’ll need to make your own adapter plate.
  • The original ignition can work if you wire it into a modern distributor, or you can replace the entire system.
  • The flywheel and clutch can be one of the biggest challenges to a do-it-yourself approach. The original clutch is too big to fit into the tractor bell housing. We’ve tried out a few different solutions in the shop with our conversion jobs. One time we used a Ford 600 (tractor) clutch plate with a flathead V8 car pressure plate – a shorter one can fit in the bell housing. The clutch was slightly smaller than the original one, but it still worked.
  • The other really challenging part is the starter. Most people will use a flathead starter to match the flathead’s ring gear and flywheel.

Ford 8N V8 engine

 

How about you – have you ever completed a V8 conversion? Share your best tips below in the comments.

 

 

How to properly identify your carburetor?

Carburetor Identification VideoAre you planning a carburetor repair soon? Learn how to find the correct identification number on your carburetor before you order the parts and repair kit. This is absolutely necessary! So watch this free instructional video to save yourself time and frustration. In this newest series of tractor repair videos offered exclusively online at SteinerTractor.TV Rachel Gingell shares helpful tips while she reviews many common carburetors and their tags or casting numbers. Start watching today >>

Repair the Wobbly Steering on your Farmall

Steering Repair Video

Does your 75 year old IH/Farmall M, Super M, MTA, 400, 450 have excessive play in the steering? Watch this free instructional video demonstrating the installation of a new steering shaft and more on a Farmall M. In this newest series of tractor repair videos offered exclusively online at SteinerTractor.TV Rachel Gingell shows you helpful tips when removing and installing a new shaft, gear, bearing and joint. Start watching today!

Install New Brakes on your Cub

Brake Installation Video

 

Do the brakes on your Cub function improperly? Watch this free instructional video demonstrating the installation of brake bands on a Cub LoBoy. 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. Start watching today!

Ford Tractors: Difference between a 9N, 2N, and 8N

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!).

 

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Ford 8N

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.

 

Ford 2N

Ford 2N

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.

 

Pro-Tips: Finishing Touches to Make Your Tractor Stand Out

rachel gingell farmall m tractor chrome muffler steinerNow that spring is here, my calendar is starting to fill up with tractor shows and events. I’m excited about traveling around the country this summer (perhaps you’ll see me at a Steiner booth at a Mecum auction!) and seeing some of the finest tractors around.

 

If you are headed to a show this year with a restoration project of your own, you’re probably at the point where you are ready to start thinking about the finishing touches for your tractor. Here are five often overlooked details that can take your completed project from good to great.

 

  1. Matching Tires: Make sure your rear and front tires match, and are in the correct size. I personally prefer long-bar/long-bar tread tires (like most antique tractors originally came with) rather than the recently popular long-bar/short-bar tread pattern.
  2. Decals: We purchase many tractors that have been nicely painted and mechanically restored – with the decals handed to us in the package! It can be a little nerve-wracking to apply decals, but it’s actually very easy to do. Don’t let fear of messing up a perfect paint job keep you from finishing. Here’s my video how-to for decal installation.
  3. Stainless Steel Muffler: No, it’s not a factory original… but a stainless muffler is my favorite.
  4. Gauges: Even if the old gauge works properly, they often become faded or yellowed in the sun. A brand-new gauge can make all the difference, giving your dash a factory-fresh look.
  5. Complete Three-Point Components: A properly restored tractor should have the original-style top link. John Deere collectors seem to notice this detail more than others, but it applies to all brands.

 

How about you – what finishing touches do you put on your tractors? Let me know in the comments below!

Buyer’s Guide: Top Ten Things to Look at When Purchasing an Antique Tractor

Here are the top ten things to look at when purchasing an antique tractor:

 buy-me

  1. Transmission. Drive forward and reverse in all gears, with no unusual noises or excessive grinding when you change gears. If you’re unfamiliar with the type of tractor you are considering, take a moment to look up a gear schematic (a map of where to find the gears) before visiting the seller.
  2. Tires. These can be expensive to replace, so take the tire condition into consideration. Look them over carefully, too – a dishonest seller can use black silicone to cover up a rip or tear in the tire.
  3. Block. Examine the block closely to check for welds. If there seems to be an issue with the block that isn’t explained by an obvious visual crack, it could be oil in the radiator or antifreeze in the crankcase
  4. Hydraulics. Check both the 3 point hitch and the hydraulics on the loader, if it has one.
  5. Oil Pressure. The tractor should have proper oil pressure – look up what to expect before you leave home.
  6. Compression test. Some purchasers go to the extreme of checking the compression – I believe this is unnecessary. If the tractor starts well and runs strong, you can be confident in the compression. No special test necessary.
  7. Smoke. While a certain amount of smoke is going to be present in an antique tractor (especially a diesel), be wary of anything excessive.
  8. Oil. Some people will write the date on the oil filter. We looked at one tractor not too long ago with an oil filter that was dated in 2009 – indicating that the tractor has had little to no maintenance in the past six years! Yet the seller told me he “took really good care” of his tractor. Red flag!
  9. Obvious mechanical issues. You can’t put everything on a checklist – just pay attention while you drive the tractor around. Major issues with the brakes, power steering, engine running, etc. will stand out if you pay attention.
  10. Extras. Always ask about any extras that the seller may have forgotten about – things like the operator and service manuals, implements, top link, tire chains, drawbar, or even an extra oil filter are often free for the asking.

 

These are the basics – the top ten things to check every time you buy an antique tractor. Don’t be afraid to purchase a tractor that isn’t perfect. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to find an antique tractor that doesn’t have a single issue! Rather, be an informed buyer and know what issues on the tractor will need your attention.

 

Come  back next week for a more in-depth discussion of things to look for when buying an antique tractor, including common cover-ups for major mechanical issues and ways to protect yourself from getting ripped off.

 

 

The top Must-Have tools for working on antique tractors

Rachel Gingell tractor repair tools farmall john deere ih

Next time you need a gift for a mechanic in your life (including yourself!), here’s what to look for. A big part of the fun of antique tractors is in fixing them, and the right tools can make the job fun and easy.

 

Whether you are working on a Ford or Farmall, Oliver or Moline, John Deere or Allis-Chalmers, the key tools are the same. Tractors were intended to be fixed by the farmer in his field or shed, and common shop tools can correct most problems. So be sure you have a good, basic set of wrenches, screwdrivers, sockets, locking pliers and hammers. With these core tools and an impact wrench, you can go far!

 

But once this basic set is complete, there are still a few more handy tools to add on. Next time your birthday (or any other gift-giving holiday!) rolls around, here’s what you should ask for:

 

12-Volt Tester: When it comes to troubleshooting and quickly diagnosing problems with a tractor, this tool can’t be beat. I love it so much I highlighted it on my recent Wrenching with Rachel video – click here to watch the tester in action.

 

spring toolBrake-Spring Tool. This tool has saved us so much time and frustration when getting a spring over a shoe. If you’ve never used one before, pick one up before your next brake job – it will be a real help!

 

Torch: When a bolt is rusted on, heat is often the only way to get it loose. Just be sure to follow proper safety precautions and get a thick pair of leather gloves.

 

short wrenchesShort Wrenches: These are handy under the dash or hood to get into tight places. They’ve saved me from lots of unnecessary disassembly. My favorite set has a rachet end – it was a Father’s Day present to my dad, but we share a shop so I get to use them too!

 

Rivet Tool: A rivet tool is essential for re-lining worn brake shoes. The right size tool will peen tightly over the brass hollow rivets.

 

Infrared Heat Thermometer: Use this high-tech tool to quickly diagnose engine trouble. Let the engine run for a few minutes to warm up, then take the temperature of the manifold. By testing the temperature of each part of the manifold, you can determine which cylinder isn’t firing correctly – if the temperature is even throughout, all cylinders are firing. It’s an easy way to diagnose problems without needing to disassemble the engine.

 

cordless impactCordless Impact Wrench: This was a Christmas gift for the shop last year. It’s definitely been worth the cost. Just like my first cordless phone, I never knew how convenient it was until I got one of my own.

 

 

ohmeterVoltmeter/Multimeter: The ohmmeter function can help you pinpoint broken wires. Save time and money by replacing only what’s broken.

 

 

Digital Caliper: The digital display makes it easy to take exact measurements of a bearing or shaft.

 

gear pullerGear Puller: We have a nice set that is 3-jaw or 2-jaw. This is essential for removing bearings or a steering wheel, taking the hub off of a water pump, pulley removal, and countless other jobs.

 

 

Die Grinder: I prefer an electric model over air powered. The electric version seems to have more power and runs a burr tip better.

 

How about you – what’s on your must-have tool list? Let me know in the comments below.