Fordson Memories

Author Photo
By Staff

RR 7, Napanee, Ontario, Canada K7R 3L2

This story takes place when I was about eight years old. That
would put the year at 1959. My Uncle Frank had an Irish Fordson
tractor that I thought was the most interesting piece of machinery
I had ever seen. Most farmers in our area, including Uncle Frank,
had Ford tractors, but they were of the ‘N’ series. They
didn’t look at all like this old Fordson with its big
squared-off fenders and wooden steering wheel.

I had never seen the Fordson run. It was retired before my time
or at least before I can remember. My dad told me that it was
bought used when his brother Frank and he did custom thrashing, for
the sole purpose of running the thrashing machine. This old tractor
was stored in a shed not far off the road that the neighbor kids
and I passed on our way to and from school.

Sometimes on our way home, my friend Mitchell and I would stop
by the shed and play on the old Fordson. One of us would sit on the
seat while the other would crank the engine. Cranking was
accomplished by engaging the crank horizontally, then stepping on
it similar to getting onto a bicycle, while hanging onto the
radiator for support. As I mentioned above, this old tractor had
huge fenders that wrapped around the rear wheel almost touching the
ground in back. My dad used to say this was to stop the tractor
from flipping over backwards because the fenders would hit the
ground and stop this from happening. In the back of these fenders
were doors that when lifted exposed tool boxes, which were built in
the fenders.

One summer day Mitchell and I decided to go and play farmer with
the old tractor, only to discover a swarm of bees had taken up
residence in one of the tool boxes. They were bumblebees and were
pretty insistent that we stay away from the old Fordson. We had to
stay clear of the tractor until we figured out how to get rid of
the bees. Our first idea was to bang on the fender with sticks in
the hopes that the loud noise would scare them away. Of course, all
we accomplished with that was being chased down the lane at full
speed by some pretty angry bees. Finally we went in one night at
dusk and soaked the nest with boiling water after which we were
able to claim the old tractor once more as our play toy.

Since then the shed has been torn down and the elements have
taken their toll on the old Fordson.

I hope my ramblings have stirred some fond memories of my
readers. Thank you for listening.

Fordson Memories

Author Photo
By Staff

1 / 2
Courtesy of Roy R. Hartman, 32 Maryland Ave., S.E., Washington, D. C. 20028.
2 / 2
Courtesy of Roy R. llartman, 32 Maryland Ave., S.E., Washington, D. C. 20028.

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

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

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

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.

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