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Which N-series Tractor

Posted: Mon Apr 15, 2019 9:07 pm
by George Mills
My son just purchased his dream property. 10+ Acres heavily wooded with a one acre clearing in the middle with a house.

The woods part is still full canopied, with about 30% old fallen trees, new trees all gnarly and a soft spongy mulch bed from 1000 year of leaves rotting.

He grew up with a John Deere LA being a general purpose yard tractor...but everything he owns and keeps has a Ford nameplate on it, from his '26 coupe to his modern iron and everything he has saved in between.

So...if there was a tractor to be bought as a house warmer...preferably a Ford...what would those who know suggest from the N-series?

Pulling the occasional stump (in sand)...

Chain dragging fallen trees out to a staging area...

Getting a mower attachment as a deck or a tag behind...

Probably need a 3-point hook up as any options just may be more modern...(not sure if this was standard on all Ford tractors?)

The good, the bad, and the ugly? What-have-you?


Re: Which N-series Tractor

Posted: Mon Apr 15, 2019 9:50 pm
by Ruxstel24
The N serious tractors are all very similar.
3 point and PTO are standard.
9N is the early model (39-41)
2N is mid production (42-47)
8N is later (48-52?) and has a 4 spd transmission and much better brakes.
Implements are not hard to find and are interchangeable. Mower would be pull behind, my neighbor mows 3 acres with a 2N all summer. Parts are readily available. Good little work tractor.

Re: Which N-series Tractor

Posted: Mon Apr 15, 2019 9:59 pm
by fschrope
Now you're talkin'.
I wrenched on these from 1973 - 76, I'm as green as they come, but these little Ford are really handy within their limits.

Generally speaking, the 600's are two bottom plow sized and the 800's are three bottom. FWIW, the 500, 600 & 700's are the same engine. The 800's and 900's are the same. The 600 & 800's are utility and the 700 & 900's are row crop and pretty rare and the 500's are offsets and really rare.

I have a 641 and love it. I don't do any plowing or anything like that though.

The NAA's (1953 & maybe 1954) are basically a 600 with a four speed transmission. They originally came with a hydraulic pump that left something to be desired. Many have been change to the piston pump with is pretty much fool proof.
The 600 & 800's were basically 1955 & 56. The 601 & 801's were 1957 to maybe 59? then they went to the blue and grey in until 1963???? '64???? and called them 2000 and 4000 - four cylinders - not the later 3 cylinders that began in 1965.

Anyway, here is the basic model of the '01's - 501 to 901.
841 - four speed transmission no live PTO - but all have live hydraulic.
851 - five speed without live PTO but live hydraulic
861 - five speed with double clutch/live PTO and live hydraulic
Heck, all have live hydraulic
871 - Select-o-Speed - ten speed live PTO
881 - same with two speed PTO
891 - same with ground drive PTO.
Having said all that, I'm betting 90% of those between 1953 and 1964 will be 641 or 861's - 2000 & 4000's included.
A word of advice - stay away from the Select-o-Speeds. I specialized in them and while I think they are kinda neat, I wouldn't own one. When ever we had to overhaul on we had to replace the input shaft. It was $110 in 1975. I priced on maybe 15 years ago and it was $1100 and there are no aftermarket ones and no good used ones.

The engines are all dry sleeve type with a fantastic bottom end. The valve have to be ground occasionally, but that's about it. The drive train will last forever - almost. I've never seen one worked on - except the Select-o-Speeds.

Pulling stumps - only very small ones if that.

Whew, that's enough for now.

I do love my 641 though, I just wish it had a live PTO for spraying my ditch bank and road side.

As for the 9N, 2N & 8N, they are good little tractors but you'll get a lot more for your money after 1953. The 9N & 2N three point will only operate in the draft control mode. The 8N began the position mode which is much, much better.

Re: Which N-series Tractor

Posted: Tue Apr 16, 2019 12:29 pm
by Rich Bingham
I agree with Fred. Get a "Jubilee" or similar, post 1953.

Re: Which N-series Tractor

Posted: Tue Apr 16, 2019 12:56 pm
by Hal
I'm no safety nut, but if you get one that does not have a live PTO, make sure you put an overrun clutch on your PTO shaft. If you don't, the inertia of the blade(s) spinning will continue to drive you forward even after putting your foot on the clutch. Not a good thing when you are about to run into something and want to stop.....but can't.

Re: Which N-series Tractor

Posted: Tue Apr 16, 2019 1:33 pm
by Mark Nunn
My 9N had a Sherman overdrive that gave the 3-speed a dual range. If you can find one with overdrive, it definitely makes the tractor more versatile. Make sure it is one with a lever action, not a cable. If a cable needs replacement, the tractor must be split to replace it. I miss that little guy.

I agree with Hal. An override clutch is cheap insurance.

Re: Which N-series Tractor

Posted: Tue Apr 16, 2019 10:00 pm
by fschrope
The guys are right about the overrunning pto. Get an overrunning clutch. It might save you from climbing a tree. :D

FWIW, N's didn't have a true live PTO. It was just a double clutch arrangement. You push the clutch down about half way and the forward - or reverse - motion stopped but the PTO kept running. Push the clutch all the way down and the PTO would stop also. The was no way you could start the PTO while the tractor was in gear and moving. Still, it was better than no live PTO at all.

Re: Which N-series Tractor

Posted: Wed Apr 17, 2019 5:19 am
by Wayne Sheldon
I enjoy reading about some of the Ford tractors from the '40s and '50s. MY grandfather had a ranch with about ninety acres of peach orchards during the late '30s, '40s, until about 1962. I learned to drive them very early and soloed on them when I was six. I often pulled the trailers out of the orchards during harvest time, usually with either my grandfather or dad with me, but a few times, with my father following with another tractor and trailer behind me. I was about ten when my grandfather began to retire, the last of the orchards went in 1964 when I was twelve. I would have loved to been able to take over the ranch. But there was no way that could happen.
He had three Ford tractors. "N" series I know, but I never did hear what model they were beyond that. I think the oldest one was a '48 or '49, I asked about it a few times, but typically, silly child's questions were often brushed aside. The next was about a '51, the third one was different. The radiator surround was different, the hood was different. It was the same red and gray colors, same wheels, and overall looked basically the same. I was told it was a 1954 model, and it had a round badge-like thing near the top of the radiator surround. I think it MAY have been a Jubilee model.
I wish I knew exactly what models they were.
One detail I remember about the three tractors, but don't know a lot about, is that they had an overdrive. My grandfather actually had most of his ranch in one location some ways outside of Modesto. But he also had acquired several acres on two small ranches closer to town. They had a different variety of peach, that harvested a bit later, so when the harvest was done at the one ranch, he and some ranch-hands would drive the tractors and trailers over to the other ranch. Therefore the need for the overdrive. One of my really early memories is of my dad, working with my grandfather, splitting the three tractors one at a time, and putting some "thing" into the middle. Many years later, my dad and I were talking about some things from the ranch days, and he mentioned that job of installing the overdrives. I would have been about three when that job was being done.

Re: Which N-series Tractor

Posted: Wed Apr 17, 2019 8:28 am
by George Mills
Thanks everyone for the replies so far and even the anecdotes! This forum is such a great place. I learned more here about old tractors in this thread than I even imagined!

Like I said son (now 42) learned on a Deere LA when he was almost long enough to hang from the wheel and depress a pedal which was actually the same LA that I learned on 25 years earlier and other than a hooking up a disc rig to turn over the field, we didn't use it for much else other than a yard tug. So what did I know about tractors...Pop was the steward of all of the yard stuff. (For a while he also had what he called a golf-course tractor? Looked like a modern yard tractor on steroids as to size...mostly all cast iron...had a Model B engine in it. We used it as a billy-goat back where the property went lumpy)

This thread has been an eye opener for me, I'm learning a lot I didn't know, one I really appreciate to the point that maybe looking for an early N would not maybe be the best choice and one from the mid-late fifties would suit the task better?

Thanks again to all....

Re: Which N-series Tractor

Posted: Wed Apr 17, 2019 10:14 am
by Derek Kiefer
The 48 and 51 models would both be 8N models
The '54 would be an NAA, which is the same tractor as the '53 Jubilee except the big round badge above the grille didn't have the "Golden Jubilee Model 1903 - 1953" writing on it.

Re: Which N-series Tractor

Posted: Wed Apr 17, 2019 11:25 am
by fschrope
FWIW, like has been said, the 8N's were made from 1948-52. About 1950 or so they added a tach and put a "normal" distributor on them. The earlier distributors were pretty much the same from 1939 to ~1950 and a pain to work on. You had to take them out to put points in them. The similarities between them and the Model T commutator is obvious.

........another tidbit while I'm at it: Ford part numbers back then were interesting - at least after the '50's. An example would be - C3NN-6013A - the C stood for the decade of the 1960's and would indicate when the part was introduced. The 3 would indicate 1963 . The first N would indicate "tractor" and the second N........I forget. 6013 was an engine block (I think) The A would narrow down to which engine block. I do remember a few part numbers that began B9NN and later on D3NN. I think they dropped this system after that. Before the '50's??? idea.

Re: Which N-series Tractor

Posted: Wed Apr 17, 2019 5:06 pm
by Wayne Sheldon
Thank you Derek K. When I was little, and would ask questions like that, I would often get the "Oh I dunno, a 195X maybe?" I was always, even at three or four, curious about what year and models the tractors and cars were. I know the oldest of the Ford tractors I had heard at various times '48, '49, or '50. The middle one was called anything from '50 to '52. The latest one was usually called the '54, but whether that was its actual year or the year he bought it? I don't know. I am inclined to think the badge on the radiator surround did not say "Jubilee", however, it looked like the several Jubilee tractors I have seen at shows in recent years. I was always a strange kid. Even then, I liked "older" better. So I preferred the two earlier tractors over the '54. Even further afield OT. My favorite of his tractors was the old McCormick. A beast of a machine. I asked several times what year it was, and never got a good answer. Years later my dad said he knew it was pre-WWII, and maybe late '30s. I really liked driving that one, but was never allowed to drive it solo. My dad later said it was because that McCormick had a weird braking system (two brake levers, one to each rear wheel) and if misused could flip the tractor. It was fun to drive. It had no seat, one stood on the rear deck and drove the thing. I was driving it when I was six, with my dad riding along, and more or less understood the braking. I also knew that hired farm-hands had flipped it several times! The dual braking was sometimes used to control the tractor in mud.
I always wanted to get an "N" tractor, just for kicks and fond memories. But I am reaching that point in my life where I need to give up on most of my dreams and concentrate on getting a few Ts (especially my '15 runabout!) put together and running well so that I can go on club tours again!

Re: Which N-series Tractor

Posted: Wed Apr 17, 2019 9:06 pm
by fschrope
While I'm babbling on, and lot is coming back from years ago.

Depending on what a person is willing to spend and how much horsepower is required, you might look at the post 1965's or post 1968's. Ford completely redesigned their tractor line in '65. They went to 3, 4 & 6 cylinders. The 3000 was pretty much an improved 800 series - sizewise. The 2000 was pretty much the same a 3000 but cheapened up - i.e. a tin pan seat instead of a padded one - power steering???. There was a fantastic jump when you went to the 4000. It was still a 3 cylinder and was pretty much half of a 8000. IIRC, it had internal brakes, an internal hydraulic pump and true live PTO and a much heavier front axle. Basically, it was a much better/larger tractor. I'd consider it to be the ultimate utility tractor.............but it may be bigger and more expensive that some folks are willing to spend. Oh yeah, it came in gas or diesel. To me, the post 1968 4000 Diesel is perfect and should last almost forever. YMMV :D

Re: Which N-series Tractor

Posted: Fri Apr 19, 2019 12:01 am
by Duey_C
And very easy on fuel, the late Diesel's. Have a buddy that adores them! He doesn't pull any punches.
I'll stick my neck out and blab about a Major Diesel. I gotta admit the Ford's never got my attention even after building a wiring harness for an N dad found and got it running. Meh.
Watched an old Major with a mounted saw rig and was knocked over. That slow turning Diesel had serious nards!

Re: Which N-series Tractor

Posted: Fri Apr 19, 2019 9:39 am
by yukonjack
If I were going to buy an N series tractor to work a small acreage, I would go with the NAA...its quite different from the earlier N series tractors, but based on what my neighbor used to say about playing with his 9N vs. me using an NAA as the main tractor on my own small farm, the NAA's differences were all real improvements, in my opinion. The Ford I owned came with a Dearborn loader; I took the loader off, being advised that the front end was too light for loader axle hadn't bent but the pivot was done in and had to be rebuilt. So, if you find a tractor with a loader, check the front end out closely, and if your son intends to do loader work make sure he knows to baby it.

Deeres were by far the most popular tractor in the area of Maine I grew up in, and the first tractor I owned was a wartime production JD Model B that my uncle bought used in 1946 and sold to me in 1985. I finally retired it in 2000 when I needed transmission parts that turned out to be unobtanium even used, due to the small number of tractors produced during the fact, I cleaned house, selling also the Model H with the cordwood saw, the Model 40 that I used with the manure spreader, and the 1010 crawler loader/dozer that I plowed snow with, and went looking for a better tractor in the 30 hp range with a 3 point hitch. Although I had never actually used one, I liked the idea of Farmall's Torque Amplifier transmission, which allowed the tractor to be shifted to a lower gear ratio under load; but they were not often seen on the local used tractor market where I lived...but I found a decent '53 Jubilee Ford that did an excellent job of doing what I needed and had (still does, I think) excellent parts availability.

Re: Which N-series Tractor

Posted: Tue Apr 30, 2019 9:25 pm
by Oldav8tor
I had a 8N and replaced it with a Jubilee (NAA) - the Jubilee is by far the better tractor. I use it for mowing (six foot finish mower) brush hogging (5 foot) and plowing snow (watch where you put your foot when backing up). I've had it over 20 years and maintenance has been minimal... the 8N not so.