MOM Characteristics and Parts

Rear oil filler

(1) Rear oil filler: Phil Reed's MOM #307, England.

Carl D. Vogt

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The MOM, being a 'breed apart' has some easily identifiable characteristics as manifested in its parts. They were not 'Fordsons' because they were neither identified nor called this. At best, they could be called 'Henry Ford and Son' tractors, which is too long for euphoneous pronunciation. It was inevitable they had to have a new name before reaching the vast American market.

We have all read the story of the Minneapolis based Ford Tractor Company. Originally incorporated in S. Dakota, it first went into receivership, and then in November, 1916, was incorporated again in Delaware as were so many companies of that time. Evidently the promoter, W. Baer Ewing had hired a man by the name of Paul Ford (no relation to Henry), appointed him secretary-treasurer(?), and patented the 'Ford Tractor' name.

From what has been written, very few of these 'Ford Tractors' were built, and only a few exist today. Attempting to trade off of the 'Ford name', the Robert P. Matches & Company who sold the stock were eventually convicted and sentenced in 1917 for conspiring to defraud investors in another case. The 'Ford Tractor Company' then went into receivership for the second time on December 5, 1917, after having to appear before the grand jury in New York the previous July.

Ford with all his millions could have simply purchased the company and its patent rights, but more likely he did not want to be associated with this tractor since it was not in any way, a Ford Motor Company or 'Henry Ford & Son' project.

With 'Henry Ford and Son' too much of a mouthful, the name 'Ford-son' was settled upon, since the idea of this name was 'suggested' for the MOM tractors as in the first Parts Book, and used occasionally in the cablegram address and perhaps other uses as well. Since Henry chose not to use 'Ford Tractor', perhaps for the reasons stated in the paragraphs above, why not settle for an alternate name, already 'thought up'.

Therefore the MOM is neither a 'Ford', a 'Henry Ford & Son,' nor a 'Fordson' tractor but a completely separate tractor. The real MOM had some easily identifiable characteristics as shown from its 'parts' (English: 'bits' or 'spares'). These have now been identified from either actual MOM's, the first English MOM parts book, or the first two American manuals and parts books. The English MOM parts book does not bear a date; the earliest of the U.S. (combined) books is dated December, 1917. While it says 'Fordson' on the front of each section, it shows pictures and drawings of tractors which say simply 'Ford-sons' on the front; others which have two words below, some saying 'Trade Mark', while others appear to read: 'Tractor Company'. But since these are artists renditions, judgment is reserved on this. More will be told in 'Part IV' when 'Trade Mark' appears to be in the casting of the first 10 or so Fordsons for the American market off the line after April 23. We mentioned earlier that 'Henry Ford & Son' is seen on the front of some Canadian GPF models (considered by some to be in the casting), but no proof exists, so the words are probably just painted on. Others which actually do say 'Fordson' were evidently produced before the American market Fordson F models.

Let's turn to these MOM characteristics by keeping two important points in mind. One is that with the complete interchangeability of parts, when original parts were broken or worn out, there is a good chance that these parts were then replaced with the 'current', more modern ones of the time. And, parts also could then have been 'robbed off' of other Fordsons making it possible for parts from older tractors to be put on a newer one.

Tom Brent of the Fordson Club branch in British Columbia, Canada sent out a questionaire a few years back to all of the MOM and early 1918 Fordson owners known at that time. There was a check-list to see if their tractor had certain parts. Research has provided more clues, and close investigation of these MOM's have come up with some obvious MOM features, (especially on the first 1,000 or so made) which can be spotted instantly! We must remember further that the earliest MOM's were probably very close to the X-9 (or later X-series protypes) as these were probably used to test the assembly line systems. The following will be more or less the earliest features or order of importance remembering that Ford and his engineers were constantly redesigning and having new improvements made and added at any time just as with the Model T. We might call this the 'Twenty Check List':

1. Rear oil filler (held on with a bolt on each side). According to the first two editions of the early parts books, this feature is found 'on only the first 1,000 tractors'. However this is not so as #1460 (Sean Hogan, Ireland) and #1497 (Vincent Sheridan, Ireland) both have the rear oil filler. One then can perhaps draw the conclusion that the first 1,500 tractors (Hercules engines) were equipped with the rear oil filler. Maybe other numbers may be found to further verify.

2. Blank radiator top casting (no logos). Early MOM's will have a straight line back to the rear with square rear bottom corners, a vestige left over from the 'X' series when this line was carried back with a piano hinge on the gas tank for louvered side panels. Also Ford had switched from an earlier hinged radiator cap in the Farkus uniframe models to a removeable cap. Early necks may have been higher.

3. Blank end fuel tank. No top center seam from front to rear. Fuel opening fastened by 4 rivets. Some early tanks may not have been galvanized or made of stainless steel so they rusted out easily.

4. Magneto pick up point on both sides. This right side point was plugged at first, later eliminated as 'not needed'.

5. A small 'Boss' (bulb-like protrusion) is found on the rear axle casting just above the 3-hole hitch. Also, there has been reported to be a similar 'boss' on the rear of the motor near where the camshaft would be located.

6. Fan blades were 'flat' with a cast center. The fan pulley had a raised lip at the rear as well as at the front.

7. 'Roundish' gas starting tank, no logos. Early ones had a bulbous section on the bottom.

8. A 'different shaped' air washer cover, but this was soon changed.

9. The shifter gear casting was 'flatter', with the side angling downward. This caused the foot to slide off when used for a foot rest, so this was re-designed to be 'level' and evidence it was much used for a foot rest would be the typical worn filler lid on all later models.

10. Front wheel hubs were 'flat' on the inside, and reportedly the early production spokes were inserted in a 'different manner', causing them to loosen. The center lip was higher, didn't point in. Round ball bearings were used instead of tapered.

11. Rear wheels, besides having just 6 spokes, had 16 square cornered cleats which were just straight angle iron, and a bit higher than later production models. Sets of two holes offset to the outside, use unknown. Early cleats may have been bolted on instead of riveted. Round bushings instead of later figure 8. Early rear wheels have 'indented' inner hubs.

12. The first steering arms were first turned on a lathe, then bent downwards. Later arms were bent first, then rounded on a lathe. One can see the flat lathing surface on the top outside. This is also the case for the clutch pedal arm.

13. Tie rods and steering rods were three (and two) piece, fastened with pins. Early ones may have had threads for adjusting.

14. Three hole drawbar. The early MOM's had a 'thicker' cross section in the casting where the three holes were drilled. Also there were no supporting 'webs' to strengthen at the middle and sides. The round protrusion to allow for the worm gear was a smaller bulb with a 'flat section' on top.

15. Cast-iron brackets held a standard 'Model T' coil box with switch and key away from the engine block.

16. The first Holley vaporizers were brass and did not have a nameplate attached, neither did the next model cast iron vaporizers. The floats had a brass lid.

17. The first front wheel hubcaps were cast iron with a small 'hex'. The next hubcaps were also cast with larger concave hexes. It is really not known which of these came first! American Fordsons had a larger hex of pressed steel.

18. Tool boxes had a flat shallow lid, no logos.

19. Steering wheel spider was cast iron, but with a channel shape as in the later pressed steel spiders which came out in the American F in 1927, continued into Irish and English production.

20. Early engines had a 'freeze plug' at the front of the oil pan (sump). This vestige could still be seen, but sealed over, in early American F engines. There was really no need for it unless the pan was full of water instead of oil!

One interesting feature was a leather 'steering drag link boot'. None are known to exist. Just found was a completely different 'dash' casting in which there is an extra web (reinforcement) behind the steering spindle where it goes through to the gear box. Pictures will be shown later.


found in the MOM only (or perhaps a few early Fordson models). No bevel gear pulley on the drive shaft. Instead a 'drive shaft bevel gear spacer' (part #1605) filled this gap. Very few, if any pulleys were shipped on the first MOM's. Inner surface of the worm gear (1299, S-20) is serrated. Later gears are smooth. The differential housing (#1294, S-16) has a four clover leaf design. Later housings were just three clover leaf design. Round center hole in the air washer. Also the brass baffle was of a shorter, different design, (part #1887), larger part S-704. Connecting rods in the motor were a different design. A different clutch assembly. Many more minor differences.

'Shared' parts with later production Fordsons

Single one-half inch pipe plug in crank case pan. Wooden steering rim (however, early spiders were different). A tapped hole on each side of the timer opening. Probably to have been used to support a distributor which, while shown on some of the 'X' series, was discarded in favor of the cheaper magneto-coil model T system. Two or four round, flat 'bosses' on the underside of the top front radiator casting. Some of these were tapped partway, one has been found to be tapped all the way through to possibly be used to drain the top tank. Any other 'uses' are unknown. No air breather in the steering casting. Ladder-side radiator castings. However, early casting may have been slightly different. Choke control on outside right side of dash, some of which were projected to the front of the tractor.

Other Features Early MOM's May Have Had

some as found on the 'X' series: Reversed quadrants on the dash, facing to the left instead of right. Rounded air washer as found on the X-9. Brass radiator cap (one is known to exist, in the possession of the Ford-son Tractor Club). Special copper Hercules head gasket, with downward projections. (Thomas, England). Spring holding shifting rod to casting. Front axle stamped 'Made in England'. Taller radiator 'neck'. Sediment bulb of different design, soon replaced with standard model T part. The early manifolds may have had 'Holley Brothers Co.' logos as seen in the earliest parts book. Later ones evidently had 'Holley Carburetor Co.', with both 'Detroit' and 'Coventry'. Cast iron throttle rod control support.

At this point it must be reiterated one last time that with no 'Fordson' identification and with the above different features, these tractors were not 'Fordson Tractors', nor 'Ford Tractors', but instead were the 'Henry Ford & Son Tractors', known familiarly and affectionately as MOM's of which only approximately 3,000 or so were ever produced before production shifted to the real Fordson. The first 6,000 'Fordsons' were not shipped to England.

If the reader can provide any verifiable additional information, it will be appreciated and inserted in part IV of this series.

The next in this series of articles will be at last on the real Fordson, the early 1918 models.