Henry Ford set out to create machines that could be used by the masses to make daily living easier. His first success was the automobile. As time showed the durability of the Ford car, farmers started adapting it to use in fields. This led Henry Ford to create a tractor that would work for farmers at a cost they could afford. As part of another success by Ford, the 8N Ford Tractor became part history and part of Americana solely because of its lasting durability. Many 8N series tractor can still be found on farms and through collectors.
The N Series
The 8N was among a series of farm tractor build by the Ford Motor Company under the Fordson brand name. As the name implies, it was the eighth model of the series, and according to Fordmuscle.com, the last in the true "N" Series before addition of the "Ferguson" hydraulic-controlled three point hitch system which was part of the 9N hybrid tractor.
Before the 8N series was created the Fordson Company had an agreement with Harvey Ferguson to use his hitch system. When Henry Ford Jr. took over the Ford family business, he ended the agreement. Because of this, a new model was required, hence the 8N was born. The 8N had such a similar hitch setup to Ferguson's, Ford was sued over the 8N by Ferguson. The result of this lawsuit was the end of the 8N as required by the settlement made between Ford and Ferguson. The 8N was replaced with the NAA or "Golden Jubilee" model. The 8N is still the most widely known Ford tractor because so many have stayed in use and in good working order over time.
The 8N was produced between 1947 and 1952. It was built in the Highland Park Michigan plant and according to Tractordata.com there were 524,000 made. The production year of an 8N tractor is determined by looking at lists of production dates and their serial numbers. The serial number listed will be the first production model for that year. The serial number for each individual tractor will fall within a range between two years; this determines the production year identification. The serial number is found on the side of the engine.
This model came with both a 4-cylinder gas and distillate engine. The fuel capacity was 10 gallon with the hydraulic system holding 5 gallons. The tractor had a liquid cooling system holding 12 quarts of water. The 8N was the only model in the series to use a four-speed transmission instead of a three-speed transmission. There was also a "position control" setting with the hydraulic system according to Fordmuscle.com. The 8N had a small and large transmission option. The small transmission had four forward gears with one reverse gear, although it had to be stopped to use the clutch while shifting; the larger transmission was a Sherman Combination Transmission featuring 12 forward gears with three reverse and could achieve speeds of 23 mph.
Like the Ford cars of the day, the 8N tractor had running boards. The 8N was also the first to have a left side clutch with the independent brake on the right side of the tractor. During the last two years of production the 8N also had a side-mounted distributor and a Proofmeter on the dash.