Ken's 9N to Debut at Geneseo, Illinois Tractor Show

Ken's Ford 9N receives finishing touches in preparation for its first tractor show.
Installing a distinctive aluminum grill on Ken's 9N Ford tractor.

After four years of restoration work, Ken's Ford 9N is set to debut as a "work-in-progress" at the September 16-18, 2011 Antique Engine and Tractor Association's 50th Working Farm Show in Geneseo, Illinois.  The tractor is nearly complete, but I have a long list of little things to do yet.  The blog has been on hold for a while but we will soon begin posting the details of the restoration process.  I have learned a lot that I want to share with others who may be involved in a similar Ford project.

Stop by the AETA show and say, "Hello!"

Keep wrenching!


The New "Ford" 8N Tractor

New Boomer 8N and vintage Ford 8N.

Have you seen the new 8N tractor?  That's no mistake, I said new.  According to their literature online, the New Holland Boomer 8N is a new tractor that combines vintage design with modern technology.  They say it provides comfort and reliability in a compact package.  All, as they say, in the same timeless styling of the original Ford 8N.

Side view of the new Boomer 8N tractor.

As you may know, Ford acquired New Holland tractor company in 1985.  Ford later sold New Holland to Fiat and required them to stop using the Ford name in 2000.  The new 8N seems to be the ag equivalent of the new classics in the automotive world: VW Beatle, Ford Mustang, Dodge Challenger.

New Boomer 8N with the classic Ford 8N tractor.

The Boomer 8N is 10 feet 2 inches long, 6 feet 6 inches wide, and 8 feet, 2 inches high.  It weighs in at 2,950 pounds.  It features a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT), and they claim it "drives like a car."  Customized chrome accessories, canopies, and decals are optional.


Press website:

Keep wrenching.


Ford 9N Tractor - On to Plan "B"

Unrestored Ford 9N tractor.

After an eventful journey from Wisconsin to Illinois, my Ford 9N tractor was finally in my garage and my long-awaited restoration project was officially underway.

The 9N tractor I have is a 1939 with serial number 8779.  The 9N's were built from 1939-1942.  The 2N's were built during 1942-1947.  The 8N's were built from 1947-1952.  The NAA's were built in 1953 and 1954.

Somehow I got off topic.  Well, back to my 9N.

When I first started my tractor to load it onto the trailer in Wisconsin, it was running on one of its four cylinders.  In spite of that, I was able to drive it up onto the trailer.  Then I drove it off the trailer and into my garage at home.  It sounded kind of funny, as you can imagine.

Ford 9N tractor tire inspection.

I began the overall inspection of my 9N with the tires.  All held air.  The front tires were badly worn but the rears were good 9.5" by 32".  I hadn't paid attention, but early 9N's had 8" by 32" rims.  Later, 10" by 28" as an option, and still later some had 11" by 28".  The overall condition of tires was good.

The tractor had the original radiator, but not the cap.  I tried the radiator cap off my 1931 Model A and it fit perfectly!  The steering wheel was not original, and the grill was from a 2N.  The oil pressure was fair, but the engine needed work.  It was still operating  on only one cylinder.  I bought four new plugs and points and condenser.  Then it did run on all four, but after running it and removing the new plug, I found they were oily.  Not a good sign.

Ford 9N tractor engine inspection.

I then did a compression test.  Normal is 90 lbs. and our highest was 50 lbs., with the lowest being 0 lbs.  Sometime during tear down I discovered the retainer clip was not properly installed on the intake valve guide #2 cylinder.  The valve and guide had been moving up and down together.

My original plan was to tear down the engine and do an overhaul myself.  My new plan turned out to be much different.  Next time I'll tell you about plan "B".

Keep wrenching!


Tractor Odyssey to and from Eau Claire, Wisconsin to Fetch a Ford 9N


I'm finally getting around to telling the story of how I bought the tractor that I am restoring.  My wife spotted the tractor as we drove past Swoboda Implement in Bloomer, Wisconsin during the summer of 2006, and encouraged me to stop and look at it.  Later, my brother purchased it for me and stored it on his property.

Here are the tractor details: 1939 Ford Ferguson, serial number 9N8779.

With the tractor purchased, now I had to go get it.  My friend Tony offered the use of his 1984 four-wheel-drive Chevy pickup and a borrowed former U-haul auto transport trailer.

We left on a Saturday morning at 6:00 am.  Tony said his truck had almost 200,000 miles on it.  But he said, "Don't worry, the engine has been changed and it only has 100,000 miles on it."

I was a little concerned because we had several hundred miles to travel.


We drove North on highway 61 to Wesby, Wisconsin, and then turned onto highway 27.  Suddenly the truck stopped running and we coasted to a stop next to a driveway leading to a farm.

We popped the hood, tried a couple of different things, and decided it was a failed fuel pump.  Having stopped for breakfast along the way, it was now about 10:00 am.  We still had a long way to go.

Now I'm thinking, "Gee, this truck is old, and where are we going to get a fuel pump?"

We looked over at the farm and a yard sale was going on.  We walked over to the lady in charge and explained our problem.

She said, "I'll call the boys at the Co-op.

Courtesy Westby Chamber.

They told her that Westby didn't have a parts store, but there was one 6 miles back in Viroqua.  Tony asked her if there was a taxi in town, and to our surprise, there was!  We were about to call for a ride, when this guy buying stuff at the sale (who had been listening) offered to drive us to the store.

He paid for his garage sale stuff and we went on down the road with him.

Tony and I exchanged a little chit chat with the driver.  The man turned and said, "Do you drink?"  We both said no as he drank from a pop can.  We wondered what was in the can, but his driving seemed to be okay.

At the parts counter in Viroqua, we were told they had just sold their last fuel pump for a 1984 Chevy 350 the day before.  We went to another parts store in town and a guy pulled a new pump off the shelf.

We headed back to Westby.

Viroqua Community Arena
Courtesy City of Viroqua.

The driver asked us if we might be wondering why he was doing all of this for us.  We said we were.  He explained to us that when his Dad and family drove to town, they almost always ended up helping someone with a ride.  So, he had continued that tradition.  Rural people must be more friendly that way.

He didn't want any money, but Tony gave him $20.00 anyway.

What a sight Tony's legs were hanging over the front of that Chevy.  He knew what to do and I handed him the tools.  About that time a lady stopped by and asked us if we needed a ride.  We said thanks but we're about finished.  More small town helpfulness in Wisconsin.

It was now about 11:30 am.

It took another hour and a half to get to Eau Claire, Wisconsin where the tractor was being stored.  We loaded the tractor, made a few stops for gas and oil, drove at speeds of up to 84 mph towing that old 1939 Ford Ferguson behind.  We arrived back home at about 8:00 pm.

It was a same day 500-mile round trip.  And what a trip it was!

Next time I'll tell you what I found when I examined my "new" tractor for the first time.

Keep wrenching.


1939 Ford 9N tractor...finally in my garage.
My 1939 Ford 9N tractor...finally in my garage.

Memories of a 1950s Wisconsin Tractor Rodeo and a Ford Jubilee

1952-1954 Ford NAA Jubilee
The Ford NAA Jubilee tractor was produced during model years 1952-1954.

As you know, I am the owner of a 1939 Ford 9N tractor and I'm in the middle of a restoration project.  But, I almost bought a different tractor.

I was a junior in New Auburn, Wisconsin in 1954.  One day after testing some milk samples in AG class I wandered over to a tractor rodeo in town.  My Dad's tractor was back on the farm, but my friend Allan North offered to let me use his father's tractor--a Ford NAA Jubilee.

I paid my $1.00 entry fee and waited my turn.

1952-1954 Ford NAA Jubilee dash view
The Ford NAA Jubile had a more powerful OHV engine, and it was longer, taller, and
heavier than the Ford 8N tractor.

The tractor rodeo was an obstacle course testing operator skills.  Tests included backing up to a manure spreader, backing into a space while hitched to the two-wheel spreader and a four-wheel wagon, and connecting to a threshing machine with a belt pulley.

Scoring was kept by adding points each time a mistake was made.  I did well and got lucky.  When I engaged the belt pulley on the thresher it wasn't quite square.  The belt road right out to the edge of the pulley and held.

"Good enough," the announcer yelled.

With 700 points I was declared the winner.  The second place finisher had 1400 points.

1953 Ford NAA Jubilee hood emblem
1953 was Ford's 50th Anniversary and the tractors were called Golden Jubilees.

While looking for a tractor to restore, I briefly agreed to buy a Jubilee.  My connection to that model was the win at the tractor rodeo.  I ultimately decided against the purchase because I thought it was too much money.  It also had two flat rear tires and new rubber is expensive!  The body panels were good and even though the paint was all gone, there was no rust.

The deal-breaker was that it wasn't the 2N or 9N I really wanted.  It wasn't a tractor like my Dad's.

Keep wrenching.


It all Began in 1946 - My Ford 9N Tractor Restoration Journey

Ken pilots his father's tractor on a cold winter day.
Ken onboard his father's 1944 Ford 2N tractor on a typical Wisconsin winter day.

Why would anyone want to restore an old Ford tractor?

My tractor story really begins on an early Fall day in 1946.  I was nine years old.

I lived with my parents on a small dairy farm near New Auburn, Wisconsin.  My grandparents lived on a nearby farm.  We hadn't been there long, and didn't even have a refrigerator.  Just an icebox.

I had wore out a small tricycle and now had a larger one.  My bicycle came along later.  With a shortage of metal during World War II we had to get on a waiting list to purchase one.  When someone ahead of us chose not to buy, my parents paid $45.00 for a Monarch with a carrier on the back.

What was I talking about?  The tractor.

I walked home from school one day in 1946, and as I stepped into our yard I saw a Ford tractor.  At first I thought it was the neighbor's Ford Ferguson.  Then my father told me he purchased it at an auction.

Even after the war, price controls were in effect and there were limits on prices at auction sales.  No bidding was allowed on farm equipment, at least not on farm tractors.  My dad had put his name in a hat, so to speak, and it was drawn.  He bought the tractor for $600.00.  He also got a choice of attachments with it at a set price.  He chose a two-row cultivator.  The next spring he bought a two-bottom plow, 14" per bottom.

My dad farmed the rest of his life with that 1944 Ford 2N tractor as his primary tractor.  He also had a 10-20 McCormick Deering and later a Farmall Model B, but most of the farm work was done by the Ford with its many 3-point hitch attachments: a two row cultivator; a two row corn planter; and a cordwood saw for firewood.

He also had pull-behind implements such as a spring tooth drag harrow, two wheel trailer, hay wagon, manure spreader, cornbinder, haywagon with a hay loader behind, and even a two bunk sleigh to haul wood out of the timber for firewood.  We would cut down trees with a two man crosscut saw and haul them up into the yard to be cut up with the cordwood saw.

I've always wanted a tractor like the 1944 2N I grew up with, which is still in use.  My brother owns and uses it on his property.

Next time I'll tell you about the tractor I almost bought...but didn't.

Keep wrenching.



Introducing Ken's 9N Blog


My name is Ken.  I am a barber, who is restoring a 1939 Ford 9N farm tractor in a Midwestern suburban garage.  I will tell you more about that later.

But first I'll tell you how and why I am doing this Ken's 9N blog.

While I am pretty good with a wrench, hammer, or saw, computers and I don't generally get along.  So, my son will be doing this blog for me.  But, if you contact me, I will be the one who responds to your questions or comments.

I can't promise lilting prose (my son wrote that - and he will be editing my blog entries), but I will share my trials and triumphs as I tackle and complete this antique farm implement restoration project.

I will also pass on a valuable trick or two that will save you some time and money with your own Ford 9N, 2N, or 8N tractor restoration project.  I hope you will also share your tips, photos, and stories.

Keep wrenching.