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
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
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
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
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
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
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’
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
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.