The History of the Ford 8N Tractor: It Takes a Licking and Keeps on Ticking

The History of the Ford 8N Tractor: It Takes a Licking and Keeps on Ticking

Something that set Henry Ford apart from many tractor manufacturers is that he grew up on a farm, and he fully grasped the importance that tractors had for the overall performance of the farm.

Because of his background, Ford practically made it a mission to create the best tractor that the world had ever seen to help keep farm production at its peak.  Henry Ford accomplished just that with the Ford N-Series tractors.

Unlike cars and trucks, tractors have an extremely long lifespan if appropriately maintained. Even if they are abused or mistreated, some models that are seven to eight decades old can be salvaged and perform as needed on the farm.

Out of all tractors in farming history, the Ford N8 model has been the most popular tractor in the world for over seventy years running. Its uncanny ability to “take a licking and keep on ticking,” coupled with its incredible versatility, especially for its time, make it an unquestionable piece of sought-after machinery for farmers across the country.

Because current tractors are simply more expensive, modified versions of these Ford N-Series tractors will undoubtedly keep farms across America running at peak performance for years to come.

The tractor revolution

Regardless of his past track record, it was an uphill battle for Ford to convince his board and investors to see the importance of mass tractor production with the assembly line.

Once Ford won the battle and began producing the N-Series tractors, the manufacturing of this piece of farming equipment was revolutionized, as was the entire machine itself.  These marvels of machinery completely changed the face of farming.

This series offered many features that hadn’t been previously available, including a hydraulic system and the ability to add multiple accessories in order to make farming easier.

Some of these accessories included:

  • Mowers
  • Posthole diggers
  • Plows
  • Rakes

Another feature of this series was a 20-horsepower engine, approximately the same as that on Ford vehicles of the time.

During the 15-year tenure of the N-Series, close to 1,000,000 of these tractors were produced and sold.

The Ford N8: better performance and better looking to boot

Hitting the farm in 1947, the Ford N8 tractor offered significantly more power than its predecessors, though it used basically the same engine and lift system as the other N-Series models.

Rather than a 3-speed transmission, the N8 came with a 4-speed. This increased the tractor’s take-off speed and the amount of horsepower it could supply.

It also came with adjustable hydraulics that were useful for working different soil types.  To help secure the tires, the rear wheels now came with eight lugnuts rather than the standard and customary six.

Additionally, this new model came with a completely different paint job. Rather than solid red, the N8 came in a two-tone, red and white, paint scheme.

Minor differences also added to noticeable changes, including removing the Ferguson System logo that was formally found under the Ford oval even though the tractor still supported the Ferguson three-point hitch system, used for easy removal and easy addition of the accessories that made the tractor more user-friendly.

The removal of this logo did end up causing an issue with the Ferguson company, and within a year or so of this change, Ferguson ended up suing Ford, thus causing Ford to make more changes to their tractors, ending the run of the N8 Series.

The N8 tractor today

Though it has been well over seven decades since these tractors hit the farm, they are still used as integral machines today.

Because they were such well-built pieces of machinery, the N8 tractor is still in reasonably abundant supply today, as are their attachments.

They are generally easy to repair, and their replacement parts are not difficult to find, making them an excellent option for those just starting out in farming or who do not require large tractors to get the job done on their land.

These are also great machines for those who are in the market to collect and display pieces of Americana or farming equipment.  They can be restored almost to their original grandeur, making for incredible collectibles.

Still a Winner

Though initially met with resistance from “the powers that be” at the Ford Motor Company, Henry Ford pushed forward with his plans to create one of the most essential, versatile pieces of farming equipment the industry had ever known.  He was successful in that venture with the Ford N-Series of tractors, and especially the N8.

As a time-tested piece of machinery that revolutionized the farming industry and is still in use close to a century later, the Ford N8 tractor proves that it takes a licking and keeps on ticking.
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