Ford N Series Tractors
The first of the 'N Series' of Ford tractors was the 9N. It included the first three-point hitch system on tractors, in the United States (Ferguson had used it on the Ferguson-Brown tractor built for him by David Brown Ltd. in the UK). A design which is still utilized on most modern tractors today. The 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 three-point hitch system was labeled as the Ferguson System; Ferguson would later part ways with Ford to set up on his own as the Ferguson Company. The company later merged with Massey-Harris to form Massey Ferguson.
N Series Models
The first Ford-Ferguson tractor was the 9N. The 9N 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.
The 9N was revised a number of times, until being relaunched as the 2N in late 1941. 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 the Farmall A and M. By this time, wartime regulations had imposed manufacturing economies, and some 2Ns can be seen with all-steel wheels and a lack of sleeved engines. Batteries were reserved for the war effort, so the all-steel wheel tractors came with a magneto ignition system instead of a battery. After the war the steel wheels and magneto system were replaced with rubber and batteries. All of the 9N and 2N models featured a front-mounted distributor, which proved difficult to service.
Official production of the 8N tractor began in 1947. Equipped with the Ferguson System three-point hitch and 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 2N and 9N, 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 at the end of the war. 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.
The 8N was equipped with running boards and was painted gray on the sheetmetal and red on the body, and was soon known as the 'Red Belly' model. It was the first Ford-Ferguson 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 on the new model.
A rare 8N variation was the US Air force variant, which used a 6-cylinder flathead engine. Later on, Funk created kits that the farmer could purchase to install the flathead 6-cylinder and the Ford V8 into these tractors. In 1950 the 8N design changed to feature a side-mounted distributor which was more easily serviced and sleeve thickness was changed from .040" to .090".
One of the drawbacks to the 2N, 8N, and 9N tractors was the lack of a hydraulic 'live lift' feature. In order to raise an implement, the power take off (PTO) needed to spin at sufficient rpm to operate the hydraulic pump. This could make it difficult to raise a mower when bogged down.
In the next year, 1953, Ford would issue the first overhead valve engine in the Golden Jubilee, also known as the NAA Ford; this tractor was larger than the 8N and featured a live lift system.
- Ferguson Company
- Fordson tractor
- Massey Ferguson - a competitor
- John Deere & Company - a competitor
- Farmall - a competitor
- J.I. Case