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March 2009

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.