My hay guy is restoring a 1950's Ford 8N tractor. On a small farmette, what can this tractor do? Would it be able to spear a round bale (about 800lbs) from the rear? Could you use a bucket on it to move manure (turn the pile) and load onto people's trucks? How useful could this tractor be for a small farm, or should I look bigger?
Maria Hayes-Frosty Oak Stables
Home to All Eyez On Me, 1998 16.2 Cleveland Bay Sporthorse Stallion
& FrostyOak Hampton 2008 Pure Cleveland Bay Colt www.frostyoaks.com
Actually, parts for 8Ns are not that hard to find. We have fixed and repaired Bessie our 8N over the years and she works pretty well. Best part is they are simple, so if you have the manual in one hand, you can repair them with the other hand in most cases. But you can get REALLY tired of being a mechanic so often.
However for the jobs you want done, I think an 8N is not enough machine to handle those jobs. Depending on how big those bales are, they might tip the tractor right up in the air after spearing it. Moving the little 500# bales on a spear wouldn't probably be too hard, but NOT anything much bigger. It probably could drag a big bale on a sled or with chains, but it would be messy if you went far.
I have seen at least 100 models of FELs on various 8N tractors, both homemade and sold by Ford for these tractors. Most are pretty simple, like Bluey describes. I really wouldn't want that kind, very limited in what it can do for you. They hold small quantities of material to be moved, so you spend a lot of sitting time doing moving jobs.
Not sure what your shopping budget is, but you need a sizable tractor to handle those big bales on a spear. Just loading weight on the front is NOT going to keep control of the tractor with a big load. You could blow out the tires!
You need to make a list of what all tractor must do for you. A FEL can shovel up dirt piles, unload manure to customers, drag to flatten dirt or snow, but it has to be large enough to carry weight and hold some quantity to move things a bit faster. You probably will want one that can pull well, so you can disc and seed, drag a device (chain harrow) to break manure and mow the fields. Plow snow with a flat blade, level up the paddocks after mud, smooth the driveway.
You will want to get tires loaded, for better control in hard going, pulling loads. Our tires are now all filled with beet pulp juice, which is not corrosive like chloride filled are. I would get a tractor with a wide front end, less likely to tip over. A WORKING parking brake, for when you have to climb down and adjust something. 3 MI farmers killed last year when their tractors ran over them, not parked correctly when they got off. I would want a Roll Over Protection System (ROPS) for just-in-case situations on hills or ditches. This means tractor needs a working seatbelt WORN each time tractor is used. Tread on the drive wheels is important, but so is the quality of the sidewalls, on how long tires will last. Wheels are expensive to replace when they can't be fixed. Sidewalls blew out on Bessie's tires, had to get both big tires replaced since we got her. Had plenty of tread left! Replaced both fronts twice in that time.
We have since gotten a second tractor, Kabota, because I wanted the FEL when the kids left home. Not going to blow out MY shoulders shoveling bedding into the wheelbarrow! I like a lot about my Katy Kabota, but she is small for big loads. Only lifts 800 pounds in loader, and NOT ONE OUNCE more! I can do a LOT with that loader, very adjustable, where old FELs are not. I can do 1 box stall and 4 tie stalls with that one full scoop of bedding, fits in the 12ft aisle nicely, bucket over the stall end to unload by hand. She also has 4WD, which has kept me from being stuck several times now! Helped me pull Bessie the 8N out when I stuck HER in mud. With her loaded tires, 4WD, she is big enough to skid a horse out if it gets stuck, and has pulled our big mare out of the ditch, 1500# easy. This is a diesel, a bit more strength in the motor power, very economical on fuel mowing all day.
We got a deal on the Kabota, came with equipment. The only thing I wish about her would be one size larger than she is. We went with Kabota because when we asked Kabota owners about selling their tractors, almost all said "no". They only would sell if they were getting another size of Kabota! EVERY other brand of tractor, the owner would GLADLY sell it to us. Lots of critical comments on other brands, like having to choose which thing works while doing a job. One didn't have enough power to keep the loader up, full, when turning corners the hydraulics would drop! Brand new tractor and she hated it already. JD machines were ALL for sale, what will you give us? JD Dealers can be HARD to work with, parts are SELDOM on hand, you have to order them and they are expensive for everything was a big complaint.
I am with Bluey, get a newer than 8N tractor, for more power, less mechanical work. Things have improved a LOT in 60 years since them made those old Fords, all for the better!
Spread the word that you are looking. Check farm sales, Auctions, Craigslist, friends. We got ours from the brother of a customer's husband. Had sat in the barn unused for a year, with only 300 hours on it. Guess he only drove it on sunny days! AND it fits in the stock trailer to haul it places! I love it, AND fun to drive as well. We looked at tractors almost 6 months before finding this one, asked everyone about their smaller tractors before getting serious in our choices. Bessie we inherited, husband would NOT have purchased an 8N. He has cursed her a lot over the many years, but she keeps coming back to life anyway! I don't feed big bales, so wouldn't ever have to deal with that kind of weight on my little tractors.
I'd give up a bit to get our old 8N. It;s on the wrong coast though. I wouldn't want to to crank out hay to horses, but it had a useful FEL and could easily work a plow on the back. Bewlieve we had the 12v conversion but it's been 25 years since I used it. I don't recall parts being that uncommon, unless you needed machined parts. There's certain a ton avialable for reasonable prices if you take a small drive through the country on a summer day, even money one's got a for sale sign and parked next to the road.
There's a ton of modern conveniences on many new tractors... but as my stepdad put it, this was the tractor that put a tractor on virtually every farm that didn't have one. Our 4400 is such a close direct descendant I had zero trouble picking up the maintenance on it.... after 20 years away.
I am also with Bluey on this as the Ford 8N officially started it's production in 1947 and was produced through 1952... so the newest this thing could be is sixty years old...
there are just a bunch of other tractors that are better, other wise the production would have continued
Best I remember, ours was bought in 1947, after a terrific wheat crop put some money in the bank and was used to harvest wheat, with a pull type combine behind it.
In 1957 a bigger popping johnny 730 propane tractor replaced it for farming, but didn't have FEL, so the Ford became an utility tractor then, used for fencing, dirt work and all that required an FEL.
I inherited both to work with for many years.
I still would say to get a much newer tractor today, one that has at least a good hydraulic FEL, bigger 3 point hitch and maybe PTO too.
My guess and I may be wrong is that with such old tractors, you may spend more time working on it than working with it.
Some people like that.
We started with an 8N here back in 1988. It is still running
but is now primarily my personal atv and the tractor we
choose to use to drag the indoor arena. We use a larger
IH for jobs like taking the 1200 lb round bales to the horses.
Ford 8Ns are readily available here in Wisconsin and run
about $2000-$3000 depending on condition. Parts are
not a problem for us, either the local used parts supplier
or online. If you do get one, make friends on the website
Yesterdays Tractors, many guys with good advice there.
I absolutely adore the carryall for my 8N, it carts all sorts
of stuff all over. I would suggest you consider getting one
converted to 12v. You might also take a look at the
Ford Jubilee; its a bit bigger and may be closer to your
needs. My friend with 3 horses and 40 acres finds hers
very suitable for her farm needs.
I had to look up the progression of the series.... started with the 9N in 1939 then went to the 2N in 1941... then the 8N about 1947...the Jubilee in 1953... there are tons of parts available ... but some of today's lawn tractors have about the same horsepower as the 8N's 22hp
An 8N is fine for lighter duty jobs like pulling a spreader, dragging a harrow or light bushogging. They make great *second* tractors, but I've never seen a truly functional FEL on one and I simply can't imagine not having an FEL. I also would not attempt moving round bales with one.
I used to say there were two types of farmers; those who swore by 8Ns and those who swore AT them. I was firmly in the latter camp for years! I found out later that which camp you were in depended on the availability of an experienced mechanic. They are a remarkable piece of engineering, and amazing in their longevity, but by the time you buy the 8N, add a block heater (they are notoriously cold sensitive!)' convert it to 12V, and add hydraulics for a FEL, and the FEL, you could buy a newer, more modern tractor.
Here's a question for you Tractor Folk...I just want something to pull a little arena rascal drag, and maybe pull a little trailer around the farm. I am debating between getting an ATV (minimum $3,500 used) and a Ford 8N (I see them for $1,500-$2,000 here)
What do you think?