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Attached Plows For The Fordson Tractor

Author Photo
By Staff

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Unrestored Ferguson plow attached to a Fordson tractor, in Saginaw, Oregon.
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Fordson with Athens mid-mount disc plow (Mal Brinkman of Australia, owner).
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Picture of front extended axle for mid-mount plows, taken in Montana.

National Director Fordson Tractor Club 250 Robinson Road Cave
Junction, Oregon 97523

Once the Fordson tractor exploded on the tractor market (50% of
all farm tractors sold in 1925 were Fordsons), some faults and
drawbacks started to emerge. One criticism leveled was that the
Fordson, because of its short wheel-base and other factors, tended
to rear over backwards when striking a hidden obstacle. Usually
this occurred when plowing, especially with large roots or rocks.
The drag-along plow would stop dead, and the powerful engine kept
the wheels turning, causing the front end to start raising.

Originally, Ford had recommended a plow he liked, the Oliver #7.
Many dealers carried these and sold them with the Fordsons as a
‘unit.’ However later, a company letter was sent to all
dealers stating that the Ford Motor Company no longer recommended a
specific brand or model.

Harry Ferguson, the inventor of the three-point system, had
originally made an attached plow for a ‘conversion tractor’
made from a Model T Eros that had some degree of success. When the
Fordson came on the American market, he immediately saw that this
could become a major product. Therefore, he designed a duplex
two-point (handspring lift) plow for the Fordson which had some
outstanding features. It was lightweight, took less room to turn
around, and cost less than a standard pull-behind plow. The main
selling point was that when the Ferguson plow hit a hidden root or
rock, the pressure on the rear wheels was released to allow them to
spin; hence, no up-ended Fordsons! Hundreds of these, either
manufactured by Roderick-Lean or Sherman Brothers, were sold on the
market. Later when Fordson manufacturing was shifted to first
Ireland, and later England, with a decrease in sales in the United
States, Ferguson designed the first three-point hydraulic plow
attached on a one-off tractor (copied mostly from the Fordson) and
called the ‘Black Tractor’- now displayed at the Science
Museum in London. However, wanting to go into more complete
production of the three-point, he joined David Brown Tractor
Company of England, and the (now rare) Ferguson-Brown Model
‘A’ was manufactured.

The ‘partnership’ with Brown didn’t last however, as
Brown wanted a more powerful tractor, and the cost of manufacturing
the Brown-Ferguson was too high. So in 1938 Ferguson journeyed to
America, met with Henry Ford, demonstrated his hydraulic
three-point plow, and the famous ‘Handshake’ agreement
ensued, resulting in the popular Ford-Ferguson 9-N of 1939.

Returning to the 1920s, other plow makers sensed a market for
‘attached’ plows, and at least six companies besides
Ferguson designed and produced plows which hitched to the Fordson
between the rear and front wheels. This was evidently to get around
Ferguson’s patents, as his plow fit on the rear, but then this
type of attached plow also prevented the Fordson from rearing
up.

As the illustrations show on the following five pages, these
mid-tractor plows were either one or two-bottom disc or moldboard
plows. One company even had a three-bottom disc plow, with a
special axle which jutted way out in front to allow for the longer
length that the three plows took. All companies had a special
extended front axle to accommodate their particular design.

The companies who manufactured these mid-mount plows included
Oliver, who had lost their main market for the pull-behind plow for
Fordsons; La Crosse, who came up with the three-bottom disc plow
which they claimed added an acre or two to each day’s plowing.
La Crosse also made pull-behind plows, cultivators and extension
front and rear axles for Fordsons. Then there was the Royal, which
made a two-way plow, one mounted on the right, one on the left. The
Hester Company of Florida made the single or two-bottom disc plow
and also a moldboard plow which they claimed ‘Sells
Fordsons.’ Tom Huston of Savannah, Georgia, who also made front
and rear mounted ‘winches’ for Fordsons, claimed his plow
was the ‘strongest and most powerful plow ever built.’ Tom
Huston, himself, was known in those days as the ‘Peanut
King’ of the South, but the Athens plow seemed to be the most
popular, and more of these plows have survived until today.

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