The REAL Fordson, 1918


| November/December 1988



Fordson Cablegram Address

Fordson cablegram address. First known use of 'Fordson' name, Feb. 15, 1918.

Fordson Tractor Club, 250 Robinson Road, Cave junction, Oregon 97523

Ford would have made the job of the modern day researcher a bit easier if he had just completed the MOM run, then converted over to the Ford-son 'F' run to be sold to the American public. But then, Ford never did anything to make his history easy for anyone. Instead, typical of the Ford Manufacturing of the Model T days, he and his engineers would work on components they felt needed improvement, take the ideas and specs to the supplier, who then made the necessary changes. The supplier then would only make a few to see how they would fit and how they worked out. Some of these 'later' parts would suddenly appear on earlier model tractors. Knowing Ford, they were a bit cautious to run off great numbers until the new parts were fitted onto tractors currently on the production line and checked out. We can just imagine a small 'shuttle-bug' tractor pulling a trailer full of 'New' parts being driven up to the section where the part was bolted to the tractor and the worker being given instructions to 'stick it on'. Perhaps these parts were then tested a short while, or just shipped out to let the farmer do the free testing. Then, when satisfied that it was either an improvement, or could do the same job but for less money, then the new part was made a permanent part of all tractors to be assembled from that point on. The only thing is that there were many of the 'older' parts left over, and knowing Ford wouldn't stand for any waste, these were continued to be bolted on at random, probably mixing in with some of the new parts. This helps explain the discrepancies between earlier tractors that have later modifications, and later tractors still retaining the earlier part.

Obviously the first MOM's were a great deal different than the American Fordson 'F' at the end of 1918. Enough differences existed between these two extremes to easily identify each at a glance. One would look first at the blank radiator and gas tank. Next the left side of the earliest MOM's would have a rear oil filler. Speaking of this rear filler, the parts book says just the 1,000 engines had this feature, yet some exist today with over a 1,500 engine number. We have heard of the opposite being true, that some with an engine number less than 1,000 have the FRONT filler, although this has yet to be proven with verified evidence. But it would be possible, just as the above paragraphs on 'mixing parts' state. Besides, no doubt some early defective engines with rear oil fillers may have been taken off the assembly line (not numbered yet), repaired after a period of time, put back on the assembly line, and then would receive a later engine number, perhaps after the production had turned to the front filler. Certainly Ford would not let a good usable engine or parts go to waste. At that period in time he was not concerned with the historical significance of having all tractors at one time identical to each other. His concern, instead, was to get the tractors through the production line as fast as possible and shipped out.

Further, it will have to be admitted that the MOM's at the end of their run and the Fordson 'F' at the beginning of its production were pretty close together in looks, except for a few obvious differences. The Fordson will say 'Fordson' on the front. The gas tank, while stating 'Henry Ford and Son' will more than likely have a seam down the middle of the top. The pressed steel seats, now changed from round to oval holes, will say 'Fordson' on the back lip. A brass name-plate with serial number is now on the Holley carb. (Vaporizer). The cleats on the rear wheel will be cut down in number from 16 to 14, the angle irons will be curved slightly, the corners cut off, and they won't 'stand as tall'. No doubt, after seeing the mud accumulated in the high angle irons of the MOM's, Ford's engineers finally figured a way to lessen it building up. The rear lip of the MOM fan belt pulley was eliminated as it was found the belt wouldn't slip off anyway. The cast-center fans were replaced with cheaper pressed steel. The gear shifter casting was extended out and built up straighter to afford a better 'foot rest', and there were many, more similar changes. Some to improve performance, some to lessen cost. While the early Fordson 'F' models had Toggle bolt radiator cover 'knobs', this was replaced by the cheaper Model T type, just as also, was the gas tank cap replaced by the Model T style. The words 'For Gasoline Only' appeared on the Fordson 1-quart starting tank. This could not have been used on the English MOM's as their word was 'Petrol'.

Sometimes the early manuals and parts books are helpful to place these part changes on a chronological scale, however Ford's practice of 'switching parts in the middle of the stream' sometimes confuses the exact date.

Tom Brent, the Canadian Fordson Club Director, a few years ago sent out a 'poll' along with necessary drawings to see which early tractors had which parts. From this chart it was quickly determined that some tractors did have early as well as late parts, going by the engine numbers. We must remember that while Ford had a guaranteed cost-per-unit from England and Canada for the 7,000 order, he realized that when this tractor hit the American and world markets in direct competition with other tractor makes that sooner or later he had to meet their competition. Knowing that the publicity given his tractors at the end of the war years would tend to sell a lot of Ford-sons to farmers who wanted to switch from horses, that a time would come when Henry would have to prove that his tractor was workable and cheap enough for the farmer to buy. There were two ways to lessen the cost: (1). To have parts and raw materials cost less, and (2). Speed up the production time.