John's Old
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1948 8n Ford

This is my 1948 Ford 8n as I restored it. The source of parts for this tractor was a 1948 and a 1949 Ford 8n tractor. Both tractors had thier own set of problems and both were in bad overall shape. I was able to pick the best parts and sell the remainder of the usable parts which financed the overhaul. While I don't support parting tractors for money it doesn't make $ense to try to save every one of them. Being a collection of 48 and 49 parts I refer to this tractor as Hybred.

This is one of the donor tractors after being stripped of most of the grease and some of the paint. This tractor is a 1949 8n which ran but I later discovered a large hole in the block under a sleeve along with a damaged steering box and bad clutch. This tractor was also missing the main jet and consumed 8 gallons of gas driving it home from a sale of approximately 10 miles away.

This is the other donor tractor, a 1948. this tractor ran very poorly, had numerous mechanical problems and started smoking profusely after purchasing the 49.

Prior to the rebuild project, the 48 needed repairs. Like most Ford N's the rear axle seals had been neglected and were leaking so the tractor had no brakes. Like most N's the lower link pins were leaking too and needed to be tightened which requires removal of the left axle trumpet.

With all the axle parts removed its also a good time to replace the seals and service the brakes

After owning the 48 for about a year it develops a serious smoking problem.  A quick check of the motor shows no signs of what's wrong, the motor will have to be disassembled for further inspection

Left with 2 8ns with major problems I now make the tough decision to build 1 tractor, and sell whatever is left over to recover some of the expenses. Additionally, the tractor will be rebuilt to like new condition. Knowing that the rear end had recently been overhauled the 48 rear end would be used. The rear end is cleaned and primed

After running both 8ns the transmission from the 49 is chosen as its very quiet and shifts easily. It too is cleaned and primed

The 49 steering box is chosen as its the late model, a big improvement over the 48 steering boxes. As parts are cleaned and rebuilt they are primed and project Hybred is beginning to take shape. The steering worm shaft was in great shape and the problem with the box turned out to be the top steering shaft bearing had failed. The steering box is filled with JD cornhead grease instead of oil.

I started out with the idea of rebuilding the 49 block and quickly began selling parts from the 48 block. Unfortunately after pulling the sleeves a large hole was found through the water jacket of cylinder #1. The 49 block is scrap iron and the 48 block is already missing the oil pump. I rebuilt the motor using the oil pump from the 49 block. New sleeves, valves, bearings were installed and the crank and flywheel were re-ground

The motor overhaul goes as expected. The assembled motor is then bolted up to the tractor. A new clutch and pressure plate is installed 

The tractor continued to be assembled as the remaining parts were disassembled, sandblasted, rebuilt, and primed. All parts were worked to the point of being in like new condition. Most bearings were replaced, all seals were replaced, etc. Red paint was used in areas that will not get painted during final color coat.

The day finally  came when it was time to paint. The tractor was painted with Van Sickle Case/IH red with hardener added.

The tractor was assembled to the point of being started. New wiring was installed and the tractor was wired for 12 volt. This is a tractor rebuild for daily use plowing snow and other general duties. You really don't realize how many parts there are until you clean and paint them.

After months of work rebuilding 1 tractor and selling the other parts on eBay, it was finally time to start the tractor. The initial start up was some how anticlimactic as it just started and ran. Unfortunately, it became obvious that there were problems with the motor rebuild. The oil pressure varied wildly up and down and changed with the RPMs. After checking all the things that are accessible outside the block it was clear something was wrong. I decided to complete the assembly and monitor the oil pressure.

The final touches were added and the 8n really started to look good, too bad the oil pressure was getting worse.

And after 6 moths of work the finished tractor rolled out of the shop, at least temporarily.

Trouble with the overhaul

With 15 hours on the new motor, the cold oil pressure was somewhere around 10lbs and quickly dropped to 0 when hot. Revving up the motor had little effect on oil pressure. I had no choice but to pull the motor apart. Remembering that I mixed and matched the oil pump with a different block my suspicions grew as to what the problem was.

Opening up the motor was a huge disappointment. After only 16 hours I found all the bearings destroyed. Additionally, the crank that had just been ground was scored and needed to be ground again. While the source of the bearing damage was never determined it is believed to have come from the grinding compound used for grinding the crank, perhaps it was not cleaned enough prior to assembly. The motor had been assembled with motor assembly lube which would have stayed in place in the bearings for months. The block was taken into the machine shop for evaluation and line bore check, sure enough the shop reported that the front cap was not aligned with the center of the crank and needed to be line bored. While it was in the shop the block was also decked, or milled across the top to clean up years of nicks and dings from head removals.

Once again I rebuilt the motor. Again all new bearings, a fresh crank grind and its coming back together. This time every single part was washed 3 times in different solvents and different containers to ensure there were no contaminates.

This is the block after being decked. While not crazy about the idea I was impressed with the end result.

Once again, a completed motor assembly ready to install in the tractor.

After having the block decked I did what I had learned on the forums and checked the head by placing it on the motor without a head gasket and rolling the motor over by hand. Sure enough the head moved up and down as the pistons now were hitting the head. A couple of hours with some air tools and I was able to remove enough material in the head to keep the pistons from hitting.

This time when I started the motor I expected a nice constant oil pressure, much to my dismay the gauge read 0. I tried everything from changing gauges to priming the oil pump each with no success. With no options left, the motor was removed from the tractor for the 3rd time. This time I discovered the oil galley plugs were missing. They were likely removed by the machine shop when working on the block and left out. I overlooked their absence on reassembly. 1 of them is behind the flywheel, the other behind the drive gear on the camshaft. The motor would have to be disassembled again. Another gasket set later and the motor was reassembled and placed back in the tractor. I've become quite efficient at removing motors from N tractors as a result. On the advice of the machine shop the bushing was not replaced in the oil pump although the gear set was replaced.

The 3rd time is a charm.

With the 3rd overhauled motor, the new tractor fired right up and idled at 30psi oil pressure. Once hot it drops to around 20 but I'll have to live with that for now. Looking back I wish I had replaced the bushing in the oil pump and had it reamed to the proper size. For me all future motor overhauls will receive a new bushing and gear set, its cheap insurance. Now running correctly Hybred assumed most of the chores including mowing with a pull behind mower. Almost immediately I knew I wanted a belly mount and started looking for one.

A new mower.

After looking for over a year for a used mower I beginning to loose hope. Then one day I stumbled upon a business closing in Blue Grass IA that used to rebuild Ns and sell them. I'd been there before and was familiar with their work. The auction for their store closing included a 2n with a Woods L503 belly mower. On the day of the sale the 2n would not start. Wanting the mower I bid higher than anyone else for the non-starting tractor. I'd been there before and knew there work, it had to be simple. After winning the tractor and inspecting it I found the rotor missing in the distributor. The auctioneer said that was an old trick by people trying to buy tractors cheaper, apparently I outbid the culprit.

Once home the mower was removed from the 2n and it was prepped for sale. I ended up selling the tractor for a little more than i paid for it with the mower. I had gambled and won.

The mower deck was noisy and I found that one of the spindles had bad bearings. I tried pressing the shaft out but broke the casting. Even with this older deck the parts were on the shelf at the local Woods dealer. Everything was cleaned and painted and re-assembled and the deck received new blades.

Knowing that the lug tires were hard on the yard fallowing rain I mounted some turf tires I had from another project on a set of Ford Hat rims. They too were cleaned and painted. The front 19" wheels and tires  were swapped for 16" wheels and 6:00x16 implement tires.

The mower deck was painted the same color as it was, one of these days I'll try to get Woods decals for it. For now Hybred runs weekly mowing grass here and occasionally at a neighbors. Since the tractor was assembled the 3rd time in the spring of 2007 I've not had to do anything to it. It just runs.

For a complete review of the Woods Mower deck installation click here.


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