Ford N-Series tractor
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The Ford N-Series tractor was a range of farm tractors produced by Ford between 1939 and 1954 spanning the 9N, 2N, 8N and NAA models.
The 9N, produced by Ford, introduced the first three-point hitch system on American-made tractors, a design which is still utilized on most modern tractors today, It was released in October 1939 (hence 9N. The 2N was a renaming of the 9N mainly due to war rationing but also due to cumulative improvements made since the introduction of the 9N. It was introduced in 1942, but it is of note that both were referred to as Ford-Fergusons and their serial numbers both began with 9N. The 8N debuted in July 1947, a largely new machine featuring more power and an improved transmission which proved to be the most popular farm tractor of all time in North America.
N Series Models
The first Ford tractor was the 9N, the first tractor to have both three-point hitch and a rear Power Take Off. The 9N (the "9" was taken from the last digit of the year 1939) was first demonstrated in Dearborn, Michigan on June 29, 1939. Like the Farmall, it was designed to be a general-purpose row-crop tractor for use on smaller farms. An extremely simple, almost crude tractor, the 9N was fitted with the Ferguson system three-point hitch, a three-speed transmission, and featured footpegs instead of running boards. The 9N's relatively tall and wide-spaced front wheel design resulted in somewhat sluggish steering and reduced maneuverability compared to competing machines such as John Deere's Models A and B, and the Farmall 'Letter series'. Uniquely, the exhaust was routed underneath the tractor, much like an automobile. All 9N tractors were painted dark grey. This tractor has a rear Power Take Off (PTO) which could be used to drive three point or towed implements. The Ferguson hitch was designed to solve some of the problems found in the earlier Fordson tractors such as flipping over if the plow hit an obstruction. The upper link also would adjust the hydraulic lift to use the drag of the plow to improve traction. This was known as draft control.
The 9N was revised a number of times, until being relaunched as the 2N in 1942. The 2N still came in dark grey, but now had added improvements including a larger cooling fan and a pressurized radiator. However, the 2N, like the 9N, still had only a 3-speed transmission, a disadvantage compared to many tractors at the time, such as the Farmall A and M. By this time, wartime regulations had imposed manufacturing economies, and some 2Ns can be seen with all-steel wheels. Batteries were reserved for the war effort, so the all-steel wheel tractors came with a magneto ignition system instead of a battery and had to be started with a hand-crank. After the war the steel wheels and magneto system were replaced with rubber and batteries.
The original 9N engine was a four cylinder engine and was designed to be powered by distillate fuels. The engine shares the same bore and stroke sizes as one bank of the Ford V8 automobile engines. A few standard Ford auto and truck parts such as timing gears and valve tappets were used in this engine.
The ford 9N engine was a side valve, four cylinder engine, with a 3.19-inch (81 mm) bore, 3.75-inch (95 mm) stroke, providing a displacement of 120 cubic inches (2,000 cm3). The transmission was the standard three speed.
The finished tractor weighed 2,340 pounds (1,060 kg), and initially sold for US$585. This was an advantage as tractors from other manufactures cost almost twice as much.
Official production of the 8N tractor began in July 1947. Equipped with a 4-speed transmission, this model was destined to become the top-selling individual tractor of all time in North America. The most noticeable differences between the 8N and its predecessors was the inclusion of a 4-speed transmission instead of a 3-speed in the 9N and 2N, and an increase in both PTO and drawbar horsepower. The other big change on the 8N was the addition of a 'Position-control' setting for the hydraulics. This change was made partially to improve flexibility in varying soil conditions, and partially to evade Harry Ferguson's patent on the hydraulic system, since Ferguson's production agreement with Ford had been terminated by Ford's grandson, Henry Ford II, at the end of the war. Since the original agreement between Ford and Ferguson was sealed with a handshake and no written contracts he didn't feel the need to continue to honor it. The original automatic draft control on the Ferguson system would allow the depth of the implement to vary based on soil conditions, which did not work well for some implements. The new Position Control setting bypassed the draft control and allowed the implement to remain at a consistent position relative to the position of the Touch Control lever. A continued drawback to this series of tractor, was the lack of a "live" PTO. Without a live PTO certain implements such as brush cutters which store inertial energy could send that back into the transmission. This would cause the tractor to surge forward if the clutch were disengaged. This was addressed with the advent of the PTO overrunning coupler.
The 8N was equipped with running boards and was painted lighter gray on the sheetmetal and red on the body. It was the first Ford tractor to feature a clutch on the left side and independent brakes on the right. The wide-spaced front wheel design of the 9N and 2N was retained. In 1950 the 8N design changed to feature a side-mounted distributor, as well a Proofmeter (combined speedometer, tachometer, hour meter) located on the lower right portion of the dash.
In 1953 Ford introduced an overhead valve engine in a model dubbed the Golden Jubilee, also known as the Ford NAA. Larger than the 8N, the Golden Jubilee featured live hydraulics. The 1953 NAA boasted 50th-year Golden Jubilee badging, an overhead-valve "Red Tiger" four-cylinder engine and streamlined styling, but just as significantly, it was the first tractor Ford built after losing its court battle with Harry Ferguson in 1952 over the patents the Irish inventor held on the Ferguson System three-point hitch. Below the NAA's stylish new hood was a 134-cu.in., overhead-valve, gas-burning inline four-cylinder engine worth 32 hp. Ford's British Fordson tractors were readily available with diesel engines, but in the States, diesels were still an oddity. A kerosene-burning NAA, known as the NAB, was an option but found few takers, and the tractors are rare today. A four-speed transmission was standard on the NAA, and auxiliary gearing was available. The NAA's Solid System hydraulics relied on an engine-driven hydraulic pump rather than the PTO-driven pump that was standard issue on the N tractors (this meant that the hydraulics could be operated without the PTO being engaged) and a live PTO was optional. The NAA is also slightly larger than its predecessors: four inches longer, four inches higher and 100 pounds heavier at 2,840 pounds. For 1954, The NAA was carried over, sans the Golden Jubilee badging (which is popular with collectors today), with only a gear ratio change. In late 1954, Ford introduced its three-digit number series tractors, which further improved upon the NAA. The 600 incorporated improved brakes and wheel seals as well as an ASAE standard PTO. The 700 was a row-crop tractor that could be ordered with either a tricycle or wide front end. Like most Ford tractors, the NAA enjoys a strong following and a dependable return on investment. The new and used parts availability for these tractors is excellent. Expect to pay upwards of $5,000 for excellent examples, though typical used NAA tractors trade regularly in the $2,500 range.
- Ferguson Company - formed by Harry Ferguson after his falling out with Henry Ford II.
- Fordson tractor - The predecessor
- Massey Ferguson – a competitor
- John Deere & Company – a competitor
- Farmall – a competitor
- J. I. Case – a competitor
- Ford Tractors by Robert N. Pripps 2007
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