1950 Ford 8N Tractor (page 1)
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Not long after we moved to Illinois (late 2001), and before we bought the farm (as it were), I spotted a 1950 Ford 8N tractor sitting for sale along Princeville-Jubilee road one afternoon. I turned around and went back to take a look, writing the number down for future reference.

After learning a bit about the 8N series, I determined this was an early 1950 model (serial number 8N249439), went back, drove it around and made an offer. The tractor has been very handy around the farm, and I've used it for everything from moving hay racks to grading, plowing and mowing.

In 2004, I detected a knocking sound, and disassembled the front end to see what it was. turned out the crank pulley was loose, but due to low compression and oil burning, I decided to go ahead and rebuild the tractor. I had the engine done by a local machine shop, and as of late 2005, the rest of the tractor is sitting in a pile of parts waiting on sandblasting for repaint and reassembly.

April 15, 2006

I've finally gotten started on the tractor restoration. I did some research and found out how to make an electrolysis tank out of a kiddie pool, washing soda, a piece of scrap rebar and a battery charger:

I pulled the hood out today, and it seemed to work pretty well. I had to pressure wash it to get the remaining crud off, and then quickly spritzed it with phosphoric acid to neutralize any further rust until I can get some paint on it.

I also painted a couple of parts that I had already run through the tank as a test:

May 2006 Update

I'm making slow progress with the stripping and painting, but it is progress, none-the-less:

August 2006 Update

The pile of primered parts is growing slowly - I only have one or two more batches to run through the electrolysis tank, and then need to wire brush everything before primer and final paint.

I took the transmission section off the tractor this past weekend in order to make it easier to clean up and paint. The gears inside look almost brand new, even though they are over 50 years old. They don't make stuff like they used to!

April 1, 2008

Drilled out a broken bolt, and have reorganized the barn so we can get started back up on finishing this project...

April 3, 2008

No pic tonight - it's raining and I don't want to go back out to the barn with the camera... Wire brushed the center section (transmission), wiped it down with lacquer thinner (nervously eyeing the lit wood stove), and brushed a coat of TSC red primer on it.

I like painting better than drilling out bolts...

April 4, 2008

In order to get better access to the left brake rod, I needed to pull the axle and brake assembly out of the trumpet. Should be as simple as removing six bolts and sliding the axle out, but I had one bolt that didn't want to budge.

It took about 2.5 hours of alternating heat, PB blaster and a 3lb. sledge on the cold chisel to finally get it to break loose.

I still like painting better.

See all that? That's all gotta come outta there...

Axle out...

Brake rod, with freshly painted transmission section.

April 5, 2008

Pulled the left trumpet off, wire brushed and painted. Cleaned a good double handful of mud out of the bottom of the case, and removed the differential.

April 7, 2008

Had to drill out the four screws holding the brake drum to the hub - they were so rusted in, I busted my impact screwdriver trying to loosen them. Thankfully, the hub/brake assembly slid right out once the brake drum was off (had to use The Persuader on that one, I did). Tyler helped me take the right trumpet off, and we're now about as apart as I want to get with the project.

April 8, 2008

Wire brushed and painted the right trumpet tonight.

April 9, 2008

Took about 1.5 hours to wirebrush and prime the diff housing. Off to Chicago tomorrow for work again; if gaskets come in, I should be able to start putting things together Friday. Still have a ton of small parts to wirebrush and paint, tho.

April 12, 2008

Soaked the right trumpet gasket in hot water, and after manhandling the pieces back onto the jackstands, bolted the right trumpet back to the differential housing:

April 18, 2008

Had a 5.2 magnitude earthquake early this morning, followed by a m4.6 aftershock - it's an "interesting" feeling! At any rate, despite feeling yucky (got a case of the grippe), I mustered the strength to go wire brush and paint the right brake pedal and backing plate. Also went into Princeville and picked up the rest of my gaskets for reassembly.

April 19, 2008

Bolted up the axle/brakes assembly to the right side, and put the differential back in this evening.

April 21, 2008

Wire brushed the mating surfaces and bolted up (or "offered up," as the Brits would say) the left trumpet. Been sick for three days - that was all the strength I had to do anything. Also discovered the left brake backing plate got munged (by me) when I was removing the axle. Gotta order a new one.

April 22, 2008

Cleaned the gunk out of the hydraulic pump, and bolted up the transmission to the rear end.

April 23-24, 2008

Painted the hydraulic pump bottom, installed it, and the PTO shaft. Then R&Red the left brake actuating rod and painted it, too. Wire brushed the flywheel on the engine, and would have bolted it up, but need a clutch plate, TO bearing and springs.

April 28, 2008

Painted one of the radius arms (the other is still attached to the front axle and will require some muscle to remove before it gets painted), and also the shifter cover assembly.

May 1, 2008

Painted the clutch pedal, and also received the used brake backing plate I bought off eBay. Cleaned it up, and as part of the felt seal channel was rusted away, used my cutoff wheel to cut out the bad section, and then cut a matching good piece from my old plate, and welded it in. Once painted, you'll never know the difference (since the welded side will be inside the brake drum).

May 2, 2008

Installed the left axle assembly, as well as the clutch, pressure plate, pilot and release bearings. Started to install the engine, and decided to wait until I torque the pressure plate bolts properly (while I can get at 'em!).

May 3, 2008

The engine is back on the tractor!

May 8, 2008

Got the front axle kingpin out, but no luck removing the stuck radius arm pin yet...

May 9, 2008

Still no success with the radius arm pin. I tried drilling a 1/4" hole down through the pin, and wore out three bits and only got about 1/8" into the end of the pin (apparently, it's hardened, not to overstate the obvious). Tried more heat, PBB and pressure from the 12-ton press, but no budgee.

So then I got out the Really Big Guns, and set up a 30-ton press (frame was given to me a while back, and I had a 30-ton bottle jack in the cellar leftover from jacking the house when we had the foundation redone). Once I got that set up, I squashed the old 10mm socket I was using as a drift pin down flat! Got out a hardened punch to use instead, and while it's holding up just fine, the pin still hasn't budged. The 6"x6" timbers I'm using for supports are sure creaking and popping, though. Pressed as much as I felt comfortable, heated, PBBed, and whacked on the sides with a ball peen. Still nothing. Left it in the press to soak a while.

On a brighter note, I got my parts order today, including the new front kingpin and bushing. Can't put the new brakes on yet, 'cause I plan to pull the axles back out and redo the seals, but can't do that until I have it back on rubber so I can turn the big nut on the axle ends. Everything else I ordered has to wait for the front end to go back on in one way or another.

May 10, 2008

Praise the Lord, the pin is OUT! I went out to check on it, and pumped the press jack a few times until the punch I was using as a drift started to bow a little, and then decided to hit it with some more heat. I put the flame on it for maybe 15 seconds, and there was a loud report (sounded like a rifle shot, and made me jump!), and the pin had broken loose. I had to press it all the way out, with the pin making a pop every four or five pumps on the jack.