My Ford 8N Tractor
by Thom Van Vleck
Yesterday I picked up my recent purchase. A Ford 8N tractor. This particular tractor was purchased in 1948 by a really good friend’s grandfather. I’ve “known” this tractor my entire lift and after being in his family for three generations he has sold it to me. I like to think it’s because he knows I’ll take care of it and treat it well…..and I’ll use it! I got several attachments as it has a PTO (Power Take Off: a shaft that is driven by the motor that can spin and power the attachments) and a three point hitch (a hydraulic lift that attaches those extra implements to the tractor). I got a post hole digger, a blade, two brush hogs, and a hoist that amounts to a wedge that can be put on the end of the tractor to haul loads and lift heavy things….kind of a powered hand cart!
Now, here’s the thing, at this point you may be wondering what tractors have to do with strength and is this just a way for me to rub in my good fortune of getting a “new” (if you can call a 63 year old tractor new) toy. Well, I might be bragging a little, but there is a point. When I got it, I spent about three hours driving it around, getting a feel for it. The first thing I noted is that it had what we called “Armstrong Power Steering”…….or basically no power steering at all! You get an arm workout driving this thing around! It’s been so long since I had anything without power steering I forgot what a job it can be. Then I remembered that each back tire has a separate break so you can make a tight turn easier by only braking the inside tire. Then I decided to try and figure out all the attachments. I figured it would be fairly easy, back the tractor up, hook up the hydraulic driven 3 point hitch and away we go…not so easy. I would have to shift and move stuff to get the hitch to line up and the post hole digger had to be put on end…..and that thing weighed 200lbs easy! But I wanted to get it all down so I worked away until I had them all figured out.
At this point, I had a really good sweat going. I ended with the blade. I figured I’d get a little work in and blade my drive. The blade wasn’t getting enough of a bite as it wasn’t heavy enough. It has a place to put weights on so I went and pulled out 150lbs of old block scale weights I have and loaded them on and that did the trick. I use a tractor fairly regularly that belonged to a guy that was leasing part of my property for cattle. But since he retired last year, him….and his tractor…..are gone so this purchase was a must. The difference is that newer tractor is a lot less work!
I had been around 8N’s and other classic small tractors on jobs years ago pulling stumps, large stones, etc. I had forgotten what a workout it can be just operating one. Kind of like a power lawn mower…way easier than the old push types (like we had when I was a kid) but still a job to push around the yard a hundred laps!!! I like hard work, I actually like to do about an hour or two of hard work before a work out. Warms me up better than anything else and gets me going. I can see me using this tractor a lot and in the process this “work saver” will work me out in new and different ways and warm me up for bigger and better workouts. Plus, there’s nothing more satisfying than to get a little work done, have a killer work out, and then take a shower, have a big meal, and then bask in the accomplishments of a good day!