My Christmas Fordson

| December/January 1992

Box 550 Capitan, New Mexico 88316

I have collected old engines for several years around my area of south-central New Mexico. My brother-in-law, Randy Axell of Santa Paula, California, is also an avid engine collector. When he called and offered to give me a Fordson tractor, and even deliver it, how could I refuse?

It was a 1922 model nearly complete, except for seat and steering wheel. Even the engine was free! I started looking for the parts I would need to complete restoration. This led to the discovery that old Fordson tractor parts were scarcer than the proverbial 'hen's teeth' around my area, which is not really farming country. Our hometown of Capitan has an elevation of 6,500 feet. We are located about 15 miles north of Sierra Blanca peak, a popular ski area, that is 12,003 feet high. My tractor project was put on hold for awhile.

On a trip to North Dakota to visit relatives, lo and behold, I found some parts I needed, including a set of homemade pneumatic front wheels. After a complete tear down with extensive engine work and lots of help from my good friend John Miller, the Fordson started to take shape. I am very lucky that my wife, Cheryl, loves old iron as much as I do. Her help and support is invaluable-in fact, she did the entire painting of the Fordson. 

Finally it was time to start the beast. I had heard many horror stories from old timers about starting Fordsons, but I had a big advantage. This one had a timer adapter with an impulse-coupled magneto. It still took a lot of cranking before getting the gas mixture right, but it ran fine.

I had one thing left to do. If I wanted to drive on paved roads, the cleats would have to be removed. I heard you could cut the tread from a tire, then cut it apart and bolt it to the wheel. A friend donated two used rear tires and after wearing a blister on my hand cutting the sidewalls out, I had a most pleasant surprise. The tread fit almost perfectly! All I had to do was bolt them to the wheels.