By on January 4, 2014
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1946 Ford 9N Tractor, full gallery here

I’m sure that it’s a cliche to say that as a writer I try to avoid cliches. While gearshifts often do fall readily to hand, it’s not a good idea to put that in every review. Not long ago another writer (and I wish I could remember who it was to give him credit) was describing a car’s engine that wasn’t exactly the smoothest running machine and he mocked a common automotive cliche with the phrase “insert agricultural implement metaphor here”. When you read “it runs like a tractor”, they aren’t exactly praising an engine’s durability or torque, they’re calling it primitive and uncouth. Since I like to see things first hand, when I saw that there was going to be a tractor show this fall in Ira Twp, Michigan about an hour away, I decided to see, hear and feel for myself just how roughly tractor engines run. I’m glad that I did because what started out as a lark ended up teaching me something about automotive history and also American culture.

1936 McCormick Deering Farmall F20. Full gallery here.

1936 McCormick Deering Farmall F20. Full gallery here.

Every September, Izzi Farms hosts an antique tractor and equipment show put on by a group that may have the longest name of any special interest club in America, H.P.A.T.E.E.M, the Historic Preservation of Antique Tractors and Equipment of Eastern Michigan. When I got there I saw a variety of vintage Case, John Deere, McCormick/IH and Ford tractors lined up on the grass near an empty farm field.

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Most of them, it seems, were from the 1940s and 1950s. Some were as well restored as any car show trailer queen, like a pink 1946 Case being used to raise money for breast cancer research, while others still looked like they still being used, driven over from a nearby farm in between plowing duties.

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In addition to the vintage tractors there were also a number of “equipment” collectors showing off their prized possessions, mostly stationary gasoline engines that were used on farms and in factories as gasoline started replacing steam power. Stationary gasoline engines, usually of the “hit and miss” type, were used to power everything from saws to hullers to even washing machines. We enthusiasts like to joke about cars that are appliances or wishing our own cars were “as reliable as a Maytag”, but most of us don’t know that Maytag made their own gasoline engines to power washing machines and other appliances where there was no electrical service.

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Stationary engines had an important role in the development of the automobile for a couple of reasons. John D. Rockefeller’s first fortune was made refining petroleum into kerosene used for lighting. When people like Edison, Tesla, Westinghouse and Steinmetz made the commercial production and sale of electricity possible, creating a competitor to Rockefeller’s kerosene, Rockefeller started looking at a byproduct of the refining process, a combination of napthas, that he had hitherto been discarding as waste. Some used it as a dry cleaning solvent. It was toxic, nearly explosive and over 170 years after it was first refined, they still haven’t come up with a better fuel for internal combustion engines. We know it, of course, as gasoline. At the time, the stationary engines used on farms and in factories ran on steam. Rockefeller encouraged the adoption of gasoline as a fuel by subsidizing the cost of gasoline powered stationary engines.

John Deere Model M. Full gallery here.

John Deere Model M. Full gallery here.

He may have subsidized them, but Rockefeller didn’t make engines. That was up to people  who built and sold gasoline powered engines for stationary use. Being located in Detroit, in the heart of the Great Lakes, before they started building cars David Buick’s stationary engines and those built by Leland & Falconer and Horace & John Dodge found a ready market in that region’s marine industry.

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By the 1890s, inventors had been tinkering with internal combustion engines for more than two decades. In 1870, Siegfried Marcus was the first person recorded to have powered a four wheel vehicle with a gasoline fired internal combustion engine. In the early 1890s, the “hit and miss” gasoline engine was introduced (though many can run on kerosene once started). Their name come from the induction system which is controlled by a reverse governor connected to the engines’ large flywheels, which keep things spinning in between power strokes, which only happen when flywheel speed drops. The intake valve is passive, it is opened by vacuum. The exhaust valve, however, is operated by a linkage, which normally holds the valve open and there is no combustion. When speed drops, the exhaust valve is closed, creating vacuum on the down stroke, opening the intake valve and the fuel air mixture is drawn into the cylinder. The ignition is triggered and the mixture burns, causing the power stroke. There is typically one power stroke about every 10 to twelve revolutions. The engines rev so slowly that you can hear every firing stroke.

Automotive pioneers like Buick quickly realized that passive valves, irregular power strokes and low RPM were not suitable for motor cars, but stationary engines were a necessary step to get to high powered, high revving gasoline motors. They served a purpose and stayed into production into the 1930s, when rural electrification programs made them obsolete.

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Besides hosting the old engines and vintage tractors, the organizers also put on an old-fashioned tractor pull. Not with fire-belching 1,200 horsepower behemoths like you’d see in a stadium, but rather the way tractor pulls used to be done, with local farmers competing with the same machines they likely used to plow their fields. Axle weights were loaded on a sledge chained to a stake in the ground. Competitors were timed on how long it took them to pull everything taught. It might not have been 80,000 people screaming in a stadium, but folks had smiles on their faces. While some of the tractors were indeed trailered to the show, not all of the restored farm implements were trailer queens. Owners of many of the beautifully restored machines lined up to take their part in the pull.

John Deere GP (General Purpose). Full gallery here.

John Deere GP (General Purpose). Full gallery here.

The next time someone says that a car engine “runs like a tractor motor”. I can assure you that the roughest running automotive engine made in the last half century runs smoother than any of the tractors at this show.

1948 John Deere BW “Wide Front”. Full Gallery here.

1948 John Deere BW “Wide Front”. Full Gallery here.

1940 John Deere Model H. Full gallery here.

1940 John Deere Model H. Full gallery here.

John Deere 820. It has a 7.7 liter two-cylinder diesel engine that needs a small four cylinder gasoline engine to start it. Full gallery here.

John Deere 820. It has a 7.7 liter two-cylinder diesel engine that needs a small four cylinder gasoline engine to start it. Full gallery here.

 

McCormick Deering W4. Full gallery here.

McCormick Deering W4. Full gallery here.

 

International Harvester Farmall 706. Full gallery here.

International Harvester Farmall 706. Full gallery here.

 

1947 Ford 2N. Full gallery here.

1947 Ford 2N. Full gallery here.

 

1946 Ford 9N. Full gallery here.

1946 Ford 9N. Full gallery here.

 

International McCormick Farmall Model BN. Full gallery here.

International McCormick Farmall Model BN. Full gallery here.

 

1951 International McCormick Farmall Model M. Full gallery here.

1951 International McCormick Farmall Model M. Full gallery here.

 

1949 International McCormick Farmall Model M. Full gallery here.

1949 International McCormick Farmall Model M. Full gallery here.

 

1946 International McCormick Farmall Model A. The offset layout improved visibility when working with smaller or delicate crops. They used the brand name of “Culti-Vision” for the feature. Full gallery here.

1946 International McCormick Farmall Model A. The offset layout improved visibility when working with smaller or delicate crops. They used the brand name of “Culti-Vision” for the feature. Full gallery here.

 

1952 Case VAC painted pink to raise money for breast cancer. What color do you think they'd use to raise money for prostate cancer? Full gallery here.

1952 Case VAC painted pink to raise money for breast cancer research. What color do you think they’d use to raise money for prostate cancer? Full gallery here.

 

1949 Case VAC. Full gallery here.

1949 Case VAC. Full gallery here.

 

1946 Case VAI. Full gallery here.

1946 Case VAI. Full gallery here.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

 

 

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68 Comments on ““… The Engine Sounds A Bit Agricultural”...”


  • avatar
    Les

    That JD 820, monstrously impressive. o.o

  • avatar
    George Herbert

    I solo’ed on a John Deere … probably a 2630 from the mid-70s … around 1982 or so, at the grandparents’ farm. They wouldn’t let me drive the Volvo without an adult at 13, even on the farm.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    GREAT thread ! .

    We had a ’35 J.D. ‘A’ Model and a ’37 ‘B’ on our Dairy Farm in the 1960′s many fond memories there .

    I always stop and watch the hit or miss engines , they fascinate me .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    Garak

    Old John Deeres make a wonderful sound with their straight two engines with short crank angle. I’d guess the ride is impressively harsh also especially under acceleration.

  • avatar
    raph

    My dad loved those old tractors so much he bought one. He loved that thing, it was an old Ford and I don’t remember the model number. Although it came equipped with a four cylinder flat head engine.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Kinda redefines the term “Barn Find”.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Ronnie, thanks for another great article. There is an entire subculture dedicated to restoring old tractors and farm equipment. http://www.farmcollector.com/#axzz2pRNaAGmz If anyone has a chance to go to a tractor show, they should. Friendly owners who probably did the restoration themselves. “Uh can my kid crawl up and sit in the seat?” “Sure, it’s just a tractor.” Memories of listening to WLS, WGN, WOWO, and WLW on an AM radio mounted on the fender.

    • 0 avatar
      Cerbera LM

      Another of fender mounted radio memory was on a calm day one could hear the radio a mile away.

    • 0 avatar

      Thanks for the kind words. I agree 100% about how friendly the old tractor and farm equipment crowd seems to be. I had a great time at the show and when the weather gets better in the spring, I think I’m going to try to take my grandson, now 20 months old, to a tractor show. He’ll love it. To be honest, I think most car folks are friendly, even at the concours level, but I go to lots of car shows and I’d say that tractor folks are right up there with firetruck and ambulance collectors as far as being the friendliest and least impressed with themselves.

  • avatar
    WaftableTorque

    If I were to make an educated guess, I thought the agricultural sound of some modern engines was due to poorly controlled 1st, 2nd, and 3rd order harmonic resonances of the air intake and exhaust. That’s why there’s a range of engines that sound like vacuum cleaners to those that sing and love to rev.

    The worst sounding engines I’ve experienced in recent memory were the Yamaha V8 in the 3rd generation Taurus SHO, the 3.9L V8 in the Lincoln LS, the 2.4L I4 in a 2002 Honda CRV, and 3.5L V6 in various Nissans. The most pleasant have been the 4.6L Northstar V8, the 2.5L Ford Duratec V6, 2.5L V6 of early 1990′s Toyotas, and the 4.3L V8 of Lexus.

  • avatar
    tabpat

    The HOYT CLAGWELL. Now THAT was a tractor!

    • 0 avatar
      panzerfaust

      Thanks for the “Green Acres” reference. One of my favorite scenes was when Mr. Haney was telling Douglas what the biggest problem was with the Hoyt Clagwell, ‘the right front wheel would fall off.” (right front wheel immediately falls off of Douglas’s tractor) “No, come to think of it, it was the right rear wheel…” (right rear wheel immediately falls off the tractor).

  • avatar
    Marvin McConoughey

    The smoothest, quietest, four cylinder engine I’ve ever heard or operated was in my WheelHorse D250 garden tractor. Despite the “D,” the tractor had a Renault 850cc gasoline engine, detuned and derated from an early postwar series of Renault cars. It came with a car muffler, tuned air cleaner, and was almost vibration free, even at its top RPM of 3000. Sadly, it was the best part of the tractor.

  • avatar
    JaySeis

    I adore my ’40 9N & ’58 641 (Fords). I use the 9N to grade the driveway and the 641 is a resto project. With some exceptions (engine head/block machining & transmission repair), I can fix most everything else and the PARTS ARE STILL AVAILABLE. The ultimate Zombie Apocylapse vehicles. The “runs like a tractor” is not just low speed engines, it’s things like hand set throttles, gasline shut offs, vibration that wiggles everything, low gearing, keeps going in rough ground, tough, raw and in some circles, “runs like a tractor” is a complement because its unstoppable (that too can be hazardous if you don’t have that over running clutch!).

    • 0 avatar

      Thanks for posting your comment. Besides its functionality I think the 9N is a great looking vehicle and has a great stance. I haven’t done any research on it but I’d be surprised if E.T. “Bob” Gregorie’s styling team at Ford didn’t have a hand in the aesthetic design of the N series tractors.

      BTW, since you’re a fan of Ford tractors, you might enjoy this vintage stereograph I found of 1927 Fordson tractors rolling off of the assembly line:
      http://www.carsindepth.com/?p=14116

      • 0 avatar
        JaySeis

        Nice pic…Ah..there was an old Fordson that sat in a farm field near our house. It had probably sat there unused for a decade? One day in the early 60′s our neighbor hand cranked it and started it up! And drove it down past our house..iron wheels and all. I’ll never forget that sound of a blatting unmuffled 4 cylinder and the distinctively brutal sound of steel lugs smacking the chip sealed road (poor county asphalt). An absolute dinosaur of a rust red beast bellowing down the road. Thanks for the article Ronnie.

    • 0 avatar
      EquipmentJunkie

      Regarding the parts on those old Fords…there was extreme attention to detail and design with most of the part on those Ford tractors from the ’30s-’50s. Some of those Ford tractor parts were absolute works of industrial art! Elegant and pleasing to look at while being totally utilitarian and functional. I look back at my hours spent on the seat of a Ford 860 with fondness. No other tractor removed my Deere-biased blinders more that that Ford.

  • avatar
    50merc

    The characteristic exhaust sound of early John Deeres earned them the nickname “Johnny Poppers”.

    I don’t know why an engine would fire only once out of ten times unless the ignition and fuel/air ratio was horribly screwed up.

    • 0 avatar
      -Nate

      It’s to save precious fuel ~ once the engine is rotating , the big old flywheel conserves the inertia so it only needs to fire when the RPM’s drop below a useful limit .

      Under heavy load (threshing , pumping etc.) they’ll fire every revolution but still operate very slowly ~ this too conserves fuel and makes it last for decades .

      Once , during haying , a John Deere blew a connecting rod right through the side of the cylinder and we still drove it several miles back to the barn for repairs .

      -Nate

    • 0 avatar
      Garak

      They’re hit and miss engines, as described in the article. They work basically by running on full throttle all the time, but cutting off their fuel supply when the RPM goes over the limiter. At the time it was the easiest way to make an engine with a fairly constant speed.

    • 0 avatar
      panzerfaust

      The two cylinder engines in John Deere tractors were not ‘hit and miss’ engines, they operated like any normal 4 cycle engine.

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    A farmer right across the street still uses a JD 720 diesel and there are a surprising number of folks here that still use Ford N-series tractors…I’m convinced that nothing can stop a 2 cylinder JD or a Ford N.

  • avatar
    mfgreen40

    Great article. I got bit by the old gas engine bug over 50 years ago when I bought a 1926 Model T Ford and a 1940s C Allis Chalmers I still have them along with a hit and miss engine, a maytag, Delco gas powered generator, a Zenith wind powered generator to charge the 6 V battery to power your Zenith radio. Notice the Whizzer motor bike has a smaller front wheel to make room for the large basket. These were used to deliver groceries.

    • 0 avatar
      fincar1

      …and also newspapers. When I was a kid in the 1950′s a nearby family with several boys had the paper route for years, passing it from one kid to each younger brother in turn, and they had such a bike.

  • avatar
    Cerbera LM

    Dad let me drive Framall C once I was tall enough push in the clutch and keep my butt on the edge on the seat.

    Was 10 when I was allowed to drive the 806 without supervision.

    Uncle’s 1206 (w/o a muffler) is the best sounding farm tractor I’ve ever heard.

    I much as I like the old tractors I’d rather spend a day in new tractor with its quiet a/c cab and gps autosteer protected from the heat/cold and the dust.

  • avatar
    sco

    The Ford 2N almost looks futuristic. I could see a nice little open-ended roadster based on that design.

  • avatar
    67VWMB300John

    My 1943 Allis Chalmers C delivers 23 horsepower from 125 cu.in. 4 cylinder. At 70 years old, it still starts, runs happily in all weather and has torque a-plenty. It sips fuel, too. Many important parts are still around. It’s worth more than I paid for it 30 years ago. Nothing fancy, but it pushes snow, pulls a hay wagon and a plow, with a pleasing growl from the transmission under load. The rear tires are Montgomery Ward brand.

  • avatar
    Mark in Maine

    Very nice piece, Ronnie. The 9N right at the top is familiar, owing to the fact That my friend has a ’41 sitting in his shop nearly restored, waiting for me to wire it, and also ready for for straightened/painted tin. Rick brought it in as a rusty lump with a stuck engine, just like the ’42 Deere B that he rebuilt a few years back. I grew up in Southern Indiana, and as a kid, got to know and run a number of working tractors – big and bigger Olivers (Granddad), and a Deere 420, followed by a Massey-Ferguson 135 (Dad). Tractors are honest machinery, practical, and for the most part, don’t have a lot of glass, trim, and interior bits that need to be tracked down during a restoration. “Friendliest and least-impressed with themselves” accurately describes all of the tractor folks that I know.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    I guess these were the more refined models of the ’40s and ’50s. The tractors of the ’30s, like the Allis-Chalmers my dad drove in the mid-1930s, were beasts. My dad claimed the owner of the farm he worked then had to buy a new tractor with rubber wheels because the iron rimmed wheels on a late ’20s McCormick was banned from paved roads for causing too much damage.

    • 0 avatar
      jhefner

      Yes, they were patterned after the steam tractors they replaced — massive, brutal machines, built like tanks, and with steel wheels. Both farmers and tractor builders realized a lighter, more refined tractor could do a better job.

  • avatar
    EquipmentJunkie

    Thanks for giving tractors some press, Ronnie. I believe that I go to as many tractor shows & museums as I do auto shows & museums. If you would ever like to know the low-down on tractors in the future, just let me know.

    I’m glad that you chose the 9N Ford for the first photo. The 9N was probably more influential than any other in that today’s compact and utility tractors still mimic its general design and proportions even after 75 years.

    While I grew up in a family that was solid Deere, I have learned to deeply respect other brands as I have gotten older and wiser. I am now at the point when I go to a working tractor show like The Half Century of Progress, I find the custom, chrome, straight exhaust pipes on two-cylinder Deere’s to be obnoxious. I’d rather hear the purr of the tractor in front of me rather than somebody’s old Deere several hundred feet away.

    • 0 avatar

      If you’d like to share some of your expertise on tractors, I’m sure that Derek and Jack would consider publishing something as a Ur Turn post.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert Gordon

      “The 9N was probably more influential than any other in that today’s compact and utility tractors still mimic its general design and proportions even after 75 years.”

      What made the 9N immortal was that it popularised and standardised the Ferguson system of hitching – however the 9N owes more to the Ferguson Model A than it does to any previous Ford or Fordson design. I guess this is why it is actually called a Ferguson-Ford 9N.

  • avatar
    JimC2

    Really enjoyable article and pictures. I think all sorts of machinery is interesting- the older, the better.

    The old Buick advert made me smile to myself. “An engine without… gaskets.” A hundred years later, some malaise era automobiles could have used that slogan :P

  • avatar
    panzerfaust

    My father owned an 80 John Deere and an 830, which was the newer version of the 80. This was a diesel tractor that was all steel and cast iron. What impressed me was how well John Deere balanced the weight of the 80/820/830. I’ve never seen one with front weights to keep the wheels on the ground, and I have seen them pull in low gear on clay to the point the rear tires were twisting and flatting out like a Top Fuel car coming out of the box. They just have massive, massive torque for their size. The only bad thing is the vibration, a day on an 830 would leave you with numb hands and feeling like you’d ridden a paint shaker all day.
    But for sheer ‘agricultural’ sound and feel you have to experience a Lanz Bulldog. The Bulldog was built in Mannheim and was powered by a 10.3 liter 55 hp single cylinder, horizontal, two-stroke, hot bulb engine (wish I could tell you what the torque numbers are). The Lanz would run on just about any combustible liquid, and often were fueled by waste oil. The uninitiated to the Lanz Bulldog occasionally discover that if you idle the engine down too far it will start running backwards, which is quite a surprise when you throw it into 3rd gear and dump the clutch!

  • avatar
    sgeffe

    Gorgeous, honest-looking machines! Even the “workaday” ones with the patina ooze class!

  • avatar
    Scout_Number_4

    Bravo, Ronnie for dropping some tractor love. I, too, have always been fascinated by these machines and finally own one. Not an old classic, but a modern miniature workhorse (30hp 4-cyl diesel Kubota shown in my avatar). The simplicity and durability of construction for long, long, long term use are easy to appreciate once you own, operate and maintain one. Let me know when you’re ready to launch The Truth About Tractors, I’ll be there.

    • 0 avatar
      panzerfaust

      Till then try ‘Classic Tractor Fever” on RFD

    • 0 avatar

      “Let me know when you’re ready to launch The Truth About Tractors, I’ll be there.”

      I just bought the domain name. Between my duties here and my embroidery shop, I don’t have much time to write about tractors (though I plan on going to more tractor shows this year and taking lots of pics and video), particularly since I know almost nothing about them, but if you and the other tractor fans in this thread want to do something with TTAT, contact me. rokem at netzero dot net

      • 0 avatar
        3Deuce27

        That would be a great and fun site, Ronnie, especially if we could easily post pixs of what we see or find in the fields and barn yards.

        Include stationary engines and all related equipment, even old trucks of a certain vintage. Include the old steam tractors and equipment.

        A friend of my dad’s would drive his old steam engine to the morning coffee klatch. Always a treat to see no matter how many times you saw it.

        We have big antique tractor shows around here and some very large collections, one in downtown Grants Pass.

  • avatar
    Michael S.

    While I love the article, what’s up with the 3D movies? I know I’m nitpicking here, but I still can’t get the thing to play in 2D.

    • 0 avatar

      I shoot and process everything in 3D. YouTube changed something on their 3D player that messed things up and the work around that the 3D community has come up with isn’t perfect, but the following should work:

      Start the player and pause it. Click on the setting icon, that’s the one that looks like a gear. Instead of clicking 3D Off, click on Options. Two menus should pop up. Scroll down the lower menu and click on “No glasses”. The select Right only or Left only from the upper menu. Start the video again. That should work.

  • avatar
    Slowtege

    I wondered if this article would bring out a different set of commenters and indeed it did, which is great to see. Part I is the article, and Part II is always a varied and knowledgeable group of members weighing in with their experiences, stories, quips and opinions. Enjoyed reading these!

    My dad grew up in Iowa and rode tractors for work in the summer. He recently got back into it after several decades, this time as more of a recreational/help around the property kind of thing. He started with a ’48 Farmall Cub (very smooth and nice sounding 4-cylinder, converted to 12V and even had a bolts-right-up CR-V alternator) before moving to a ’48 John Deere M, which is one of the “Johnny Poppers” previously mentioned. He/we did some mechanical fixes, replacements, painting, and upgrades to get it to work better. In ’47 JD started making Ms in their new Dubuque, IA plant (no pun intended…), a main reason he got the M in the first place. He jokes that he keeps it around to remind him that there’s something older than him that still works.

    Soon, though, he picks up the M’s successor, the Model 40. The three-point hitch availability or equipping was now designed into the 40 as opposed to having to be retrofitted on the M (if I am to be correct. My dad’s M just has the PTO), and this 40 is equipped with one. It’s a good looking tractor, as the M, Cub, and other “styled” (in industry parlance) tractors are. I do like the look and stance of the Fords.

    There’s something strong, straightforward, and honest about tractors from the ’40s and ’50s. They still run, and can still do work. Happily, too. Very simple beasts, as evidenced by, well, of many things, the wire harness. Still, fun to drive with the smaller ones being quite handy and maneuverable. Thank you for the article that shows a different kind of motored vehicle as well as a look into a very real and hard-working aspect of American life.

    • 0 avatar
      panzerfaust

      My dad also had an ‘M.’ Prior to their going to a numbered series they kept adding on to the letter series. So they went from the M to the “Super M,” then came out with the Diesel M, and finally they had the optional Torque amplifier which was a lever which when pulled lowered the gear ratio slightly and allowed the engine to rev back up when pulling. How proud my father was, when he took delivery of his ‘Super M, T/A Diesel.”

  • avatar
    threeer

    Precious little is a therapeutic to me as riding around the JD that is used at the Scout Camp that I volunteer at during Summer and Winter camps. I have a picture of me riding one over my desk here in Saudi just to remind me of how much I miss those days. Thanks for reminding me!

  • avatar
    honda_magna85

    The truth about tractors…

    Great article. Whatever anybody’s particular passion is, its nice to step across the line sometimes and see what else is going on. Die hard metalhead? Go to a jazz show, you might like it.

    In upstate NY, tractors like these are common everyday sights. I always stop to check them out at the county fairs, etc.

    I’ve been to a few of the Antique Truck Historical Society (ATHS) Upstate NY shows. Same idea, but with old trucks. Over the road cabs, logging trucks, dump trucks, everything. It was pretty fascinating to see the vehicles that powered America 2 or 3 generations ago. Some of the owners were retired owner operators who had purchased the trucks new, and restored them after retirement. They all had some great stories to tell.

    This really is a great community on this site. While the focus may be cars, i hope i speak for everybody by saying we are just as interested in reading a side article about motorcycles, tractors, or whatever.

  • avatar
    3Deuce27

    Nice write-up and pixs, Ronnie.

    Grew up on a small farm of 40+ aces in North Central Washington. Our first tractor tractor was a JD-AWH of about 1935 vintage. This tractor was as solid as and anvil and just as reliable.

    In early 52′ dad bought a new Ford 8N. A speedster on the county road compared to the JD, but not near the work horse or as reliable as the JD.

    Early on, the 8N was banned from side hill work when dad got her up on two wheels. Only the JD was allowed on the steeper ground.

    One day Dad, his brothers, and several friends decided to hook the two tractors together to see who could out pull the other. It was no contest, the JD dragged the 8N easily.

    Another of Dad’s little funny humiliations for visiting pompous city friends, was to have one of them try to start the JD, which was a flywheel start. They would inevitably fail and Dad would send me over for the coupe de grace. Scrawny little me of about seven or eight years, but well practiced in motivating that flywheel to energize the mag and spark the two plugs.

    We used the JD for the heavy pulling and side hill work. The 8N for spraying, mowing, and trailer pulling. It was a good combo of machinery for our needs.

    Here in Grants Pass old tractors are quite popular show items at the annual cruise and shows. Several of the ‘N’ model Fords have flathead Ford V-8′s
    in them. Other brands are hotted up with various V-8′s or superchargers and the like.

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane, Ronnie.

  • avatar
    JaySeis

    As many tractor lovers know, a pre 60′s farm tractor in good shape is likely an heirloom tractor and has a high probability of outliving anybody reading this. I’m the 3rd owner of the 641 Ford (family friend to father to son) and at least the 3rd owner of the 9N (Church camp to family friend to me). The 9N is an early 1940 production and will shortly be 74 years old. It’s in excellent shape with clean paint, sheet metal, electrics, tires, wheels, engine, clutch, tranny. The PTO pump needs a rebuild and a Petronix ignition will help the old gal on startup and eliminate points. When the Ford hits its 100th birthday I’ll be 85 and it’ll be time to pass her on to my son in law or grandson (or granddaughter?). It will easily see its 100th birthday and not hard to imagine it stately arriving at 150 years old or still be a grand old dame at the dawn of the 22nd century. That’s the beauty of old iron. I do have an old flathead V-8 on the farm…uh oh..!

  • avatar
    3Deuce27

    Jumping a head fifty plus years, all of the equipment here on The Farm, here in the Columbia River Gorge, is all Kubota. From the original seventies model tractor to the most recent tractor addition, all of them reliable assets for the usually light work around the place.

    The Farm is a destination/retreat, not a real working farm, as such we have equipment for snow plowing, road work, digging, loading, and the PTO generator running off of the old Kubota tractor for work away from the main compound and to run the main compound during power failures.

    The newest and most used equipment around here, is ‘Molly’, the Kubota RTV-1140-CPX diesel, with its convertible seating and utility box options, it is a very handy rig. Molly replaced ‘Milly’, our previous little Kubota RTV.

    Times change and so does equipment. http://www.atv.com/specs/kubota/utility/2012/rtv1140cpx/orange.html

    • 0 avatar
      NoGoYo

      My uncle still has a Kubota from the 1980s. It doesn’t get much use now, but when it did it was a sturdy and reliable machine. His other Kubota, a diesel zero-turn mower, gets quite a bit more use.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        My grandpa has a bright orange Kubota tractor with a bucket on the front. He’s had it since I was little, so it’s at least mid 80′s. I’m pretty sure it’s always been ultra reliable.

        I always did like that tractor grease smell. And the smell of boat engines.

  • avatar

    Thank all of you for the kind comments. As I was telling Derek last night while we were discussing a far more serious matter, we don’t cover planes, boats and trains around here like a certain popular car site does, so I wasn’t sure if a post about tractors was within the sphere of interest of our readers. It’s gratifying to see that so many of the Best & Brightest not only appreciate the post but also that we have a number of well-informed tractor enthusiasts among us who have added to the post with great comments. Thanks again.

  • avatar
    manbridge

    I have a car that has a lot in common with tractors (has injection pump that runs off cam gear) yet is still a sports car of some renown. Ironic I know.

    • 0 avatar
      NoGoYo

      Fun fact: The famous Delahaye race cars of the 20s and 30s used modified truck engines. Kinda makes Ettore Bugatti’s “world’s fastest lorry” comments about W.O. Bentley’s cars seem misplaced, huh?

  • avatar
    Drzhivago138

    Great article! As the son of a long line of farmers, and being familiar with John Deeres of varying vintages, it was especially enjoyable. Also reminded me how I will never complain about how roughly a vehicle rides, nor how difficult it might be to shift–compared to a 50-year-old unsynchronized 3020 (which is about the oldest model I can drive with any surety–never quite got the hang of the hand clutch on the old two-cylinders), even an unloaded F-350 truck drives nice. And an F-150 is practically a car–never been “truck-like” to me.

    EDIT: I should add noise, too–a little wind noise in a late-90′s plastic-mobile is nothing compared to the 5 minutes of residual throbbing that accompany the following 5 minutes dismounting any open-station machine. Deere’s Sound-Gard cab in ’72 was a lifesaver in more ways than one.

  • avatar
    05lgt

    My grandfather had an already old Lamborghini tractor in the field when I visited Italy at 14. It wasn’t working, so I asked if I could drive it if I fixed it. No dice, but they lent me a broken Vespa and a small toolbox… It was a better idea and lots of fun once it was working. I still wish I’d been able to “drive a Lambo”.

  • avatar
    radimus

    I also suspect that most people who say an automotive engine “runs like a tractor motor” hasn’t spent much time with a Ford 4.9L straight six.

  • avatar
    jhefner

    When I was a senior in Mechanical Engineering, our ASME group drove down to the coast (after a very rare snowstorm – we saw a snowman with Mardi Gras doubloons for buttons) to visit a pair of men who called themselves “Old Engine Nuts”, and had business cards that said just that.

    Among their engine and tractor collection was a hit-and-miss engine they called “The Pig”. The sound it made when taking in air was just like a pig snorting; then it would exhaust with a bang, shooting flames out of the exhaust stack. So the sound was … ….; a blast to watch.

    They also had a radial air compressor — it looked like a six cylinder aircraft radial engine; but three of the cylinders were power cylinders, and three were compressor cylinders. They ran it lying flat, sitting on an old tire.

    Up until last year, I put together what I called “The Surviving World Steam Project”. It documented the world’s remaining steam engines in the form of several databases, complete with pictures; I sold them on the net as CDs. I documented about 12,000 steam tractors and vehicles out of what I estimated to be 15,000 worldwide before I took the project offline due to lack of interest; the total project was up to 33,000 steam engines in most of countries of the world, and thousands of photographs.

    Biggest engines of these sort that I have seen are in an old water pumping station in Grandbury, Texas. They fire them up once a year for the tractor and antique engine show; another treat, complete with a tractor parade.

    • 0 avatar
      TL

      The first motor vehicle I ever drove was a steam tractor owned by my uncle (built in 1909 if I remember correctly). Amazing machines that with some minor care will last forever. I’m no longer in touch with the uncle, but the steam engine appears to have taken part in the 2013 Antique Powerland Steamup: http://antiquepowerland.com/index.html

      You don’t truly understand the meaning of primitive steering feel until you’ve driven something that uses a chain as the steering linkage.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    I remember when I was young, the hangar where the King Air my dad piloted was stored used a Ford 9N exactly like the one picutred as a tug to move planes about.

    I remember him letting me steer as we drove it accross the tarmac moving planes about. Good memories. I remember being sad when one day it was replaced by a Clark tug with far less character.

  • avatar
    3Deuce27

    The new Site, could also encompass unusual vehicles like the 62′ ‘Unimog-404S’ we just picked up for The Farm.

    Occasionally, we get a pretty good snow storm here at The Farm and no one can get out. Cars driven down into The Farm, are sometimes here for a month or more if caught down here when it snows heavy. Pushing snow up a steep hill is just about nearly impossible.

    The Unimog, is to get people up to the plowed county road and home to their families and job, though, their car might be here for a month or more…col!

    One time we had about ten or more people and some five or six vehicles abandoned here. Of the cars that stayed, most were FWD and Subies with chains. Even a big Ford 4×4 and a Scout chained up, couldn’t get out. We pulled people to the top of the hill and county road(a 2-1/2 mile trip) with the big Kubota tractor, chained up, pulling a farm trailer.

    Once to the county road, friends and family picked them up and took them home. With the Unimog we can drive them into town and the bus or train station.

    Were expecting snow to night, if it gets too deep for my Chevy 4×4, I will have an excuse to stay on past Sunday as the Unimog just went in to town today for new tires and a brake job and is not due back til next week.

    Plenty of Food? Check. Plenty of Whiskey? Check, Plenty of Wine? Check. Plenty of good vibes? Check. Now if some more pretty gals show up… let it snow, let it snow.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unimog


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