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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.

 

 

FFA a Pink Ford 8N and an Amazing Girl

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.

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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 pink tractor 3 mcbOctober 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.

Cassandra Gifford
Eufaula, Alabama

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Tractor Stories – 1952 Ford 8N

Ford_8n

I found a 1952 Ford 8N Setter in an open shed which had been sitting for 10+ years.  I was interested in restoring it so I asked the man who owned it if I could buy it.  He said that it was his dad's tractor who had passed away several years earlier.  He sold it to me so that it would not sit there and ruin away.  It was in bad shape.  The gas had dried up in the tank and had stopped up the gas bowl and carburator.  One tire was flat and the others were low.  It had no brakes.  The brake pads and coils were bad and the clutch was stuck. 

     My plan is to totally restore it so that one day I can pass it on to my 4-year old grandson to enjoy.

Raymond R. Weathers
Laurens, SC