Fordson Memories

Model T Ford

Courtesy of Roy R. llartman, 32 Maryland Ave., S.E., Washington, D. C. 20028.

Roy R. llartman

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344 N. Main St. Nashville, Michigan 49073

I was employed by a Fordson dealer for many years and problems were encountered and solved, by Fordson mechanics, that were caused by some owners and drivers not having experience with the most used, misused, cussed and even kicked farm machine. I never saw a tractor that would react to Whoa or Giddap.

Early Fordsons were called Liberty models and had the same effect on the farmer as the Model T.

The first order of the day was Start and in cold weather heating the oil or using light oil made starting easier. A fire under the crankcase might and did cause a fire under the gas or kerosene tank. I remember a man who shot holes in the gas tank with a 30-06 rifle to keep it from blowing up. The HOT SHOT was made popular by Fordson owners, but could demagnetize the magneto if it was not connected correctly. The magnets were set with a compass. Ignition problems were simple plug and coil adjustments, clean wires and timer. About 12 kinds of timers were on the market, but I think the genuine Ford gave the best service. Timer lubrication was often argued but oil or grease was better than none at all. Condensation in the winter made an icy mess. A safety magneto plug was used to keep the machine from rearing up in a hard pull. A tractor lying on its back was a horrible sight. The Farmall was known to do this also. A high tension magneto with impulse starter was available.

1932 Auburn, owned by Dr. C. W. Adams of York, Pennsylvania. Picture taken in October 1965 at the Rockville Antique and Classic Car Show.

A dirty or burned clutch made gear changing difficult and hard to stop on old models without a brake. The solution was either clean or replace the discs. A plate of steel was riveted on the bronze throwout collar to put friction on the clutch housing, making the discs free when the pedal was pressed down. The collar could be removed and replaced through the R H foot rest or pulley opening.

A small relief valve in the top of the transmission housing was helpful in preventing the gear oil from getting into the motor oil or leaking at the rear wheels.

The air washer performed two important things. It washed the air entering the engine and regulated the vacuum in the intake manifold to help vaporize the fuel in the vapor tube or plates. A dry air washer caused the engine to choke and plug the tube. It also allowed dust to enter the engine causing badly worn intake valves and rings. I have torn down engines where the top rings and ring lands were completely worn out. Reboring was done with tools by K. R. Wilson and others at the owners farm. Have even rebabbited and rebored with hand operated tools when electricity was not available. In the early 20's Delco or other D. C. plants were not too popular and R.E.A. was a dream. Valve failure was often caused by the cast iron valve heads burning or breaking. Steel valves helped to cure this problem.

Several makes of governors were sold by dealers. The Taco, Kingston, Handy and others were very popular vacuum and flyball types. The Comstock was a small flyball type operated by a narrow belt that ran on the fan belt. It was made by a Mr. Davis who made the Comstock steam engine governor. He also made hydraulic rams.

Fenders were optional but badly needed. Michigan Crown and regular Fordson were installed at the time of delivery. Fenders amplified noise in the transmission in plow gear. I think the name Dearborn Hummer was used to describe this problem. Earplugs were worn by some operators.

Regardless of the problems, the Ford-son was very helpful in the mechanical age that was increasing the production of the common farmer. I think the Fordson sold at one time for about $636.00 for tractor and plows. Backing a tractor up two 12 inch planks onto a T. truck was a breath taker.

1912 Model 'T' Ford owned by Dr. Thomas A. Ladson of Olney, Maryland. Picture taken in October 1965 at the Rockville Antique and Classic Car Show.