THE HALF-A-FORDSON TRACTOR ENGINE


| October/November 1999



Fordson Engine

#1: As found.

3437 Blue Ball Road, North East, Maryland 21901

About two years ago during the late summer, one of my engine/iron buddies, Dave, had just seen several really rough Fordsons roll into the scrapyard we frequent on Saturdays. Dave took one of the better ones home, I helped him dismantle the usable parts from the others. Better to rescue another tired old Fordson than to see it get chopped up. Several weeks pass, Saturday rolls around again, and we're back at the scrapyard. I'm digging through a particularly large #2 pile where I spot what looks like the front part of a Ford-son engine about two to three feet down; probably some more pieces and parts. I pull some more metal off the top and the front of the cylinders are revealed. The carb and manifold are missing as usual. Might as well keep going-- this is much better therapy than paying to lie on some stranger's couch and cry the blues.

There are the first two cylinders. Hey, wait a minute, where are the other two cylinders? Hey, could this be a two-cylinder Fordson engine? I yell over to Dave that I think I've found a two-cylinder Fordson engine. He tells me I am full of schtuff and other things unmentionable. 'No, really, it truly is; come see.' So we wrestle the engine free from the pile and set it out on the dirt. About a minute of looking at it and there is a long pause out of the two of us and looks of utter disbelief. Another minute later there is a chain around it and it is being lifted into my two-week-old truck with nothing more than an oak pallet to sit on. I cringe as the bed receives its first scratches, but resign myself to the fact that it had to happen sooner than later; battle scars, I rationalize. This puppy is coming home with me.

Home with the half-a-Fordson engine, I snap some pictures with it next to my '23 Fordson. These pictures are to aid me putting the 'half back together. Pictures one and two show it sitting next to my '23. Usually I get so bird-dog enthusiastic about 'new iron' that I forget to take pictures in the 'before' state. The half is stuck with some rust in the bores. Not that bad, we have the technology, we can rebuild it! Walt, the local Fordson man, happens to be at Dave's for some parts that afternoon. Walt has probably the best running Fordson I have ever seen or heard. One pull to choke, one pull to start. Walt thinks nothing of hitching up a wagon to his Fordson and driving 15-20 miles to a gas engine show--or mowing 10 acres of grass with a five-gang reel mower for as long as I can remember. Walt is shaking his head saying he has seen model A's and Model T's cut in half, but never one of these. The consensus that day is that if I fix it up and take it to the shows, somebody might recognize it or know something about it. It is a long shot, but stranger things have happened. The sun is going down now, so some tranny fluid is poured into the bores to anoint the rings and loosen the pistons.

Two weeks later, the half-a-Fordson is sitting in my garage where the pan is pulled to see what makes it tick inside.

Picture #3 shows what was found inside. Lots of black goo and oil in the pan; good sign. The first thing which jumped out were the counterweights which were welded to the crankshaft--nice job. Whoever performed the amputation had a lot of spare parts and a lot of skill as a welder. It appears that all the welds were made with a stick. The engine has a serial number which dates it at 1921. I pull the caps and remove the crank--well, the half crank. The builder used the front half of the block and the rear half of the crank. A copper flange seal and extra lip welded to the flywheel flange seals the rear of the crank. Recall that Fordsons had the flywheel and clutch run in oil so there was no seal. The entire ear of the pan was hammered out of  3/32' sheet steel and welded to the cast iron pan. The block top half supports the other top half of the rear seal which slides nicely into the bottom forming an oil-tight, mechanical seal.