| November/December 1988


No such thing as a 1917 Fordson!

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

In Collaboration With: Thomas Brent, Canadian Fordson Club, P.O. Box 15, Dewdney, British Columbia, V0M 1H0

Many 'histories' have been written about the Fordson tractor, usually in regard to their significance to the tractor industry and the introduction of tractors to the American and world farmers. However, this series of 4 articles has been dedicated to portraying the evolutionary process, step-by-step, with the introduction of facts never before published in order to correct previous errors. The first in this series reviewed Henry Ford's attempt to build a workable small tractor over a period of 15-20 years and his first success with the Farkus Uni-frame model. The second article dealt with the previously unknown 'X-Series', and the third article (in two parts) continued with the little known 'MOM' tractors, made by the 'Henry Ford and Son' Tractor Company, with over 4,000 manufactured before the first REAL Fordson came on the market.

Some of the incorrect facts previously printed stated that 'the first 6,000 FORDSONS were shipped to England'. This was disproved in the last article. Another misconception was that a 1917 Fordson existed. This would be impossible as only 259 MOM's were produced by Dec. 31, 1917, and the last one not completed until the 2nd or 3rd week of April, 1918.   So, therefore, it would be impossible to have a REAL Fordson until nearly the 4th week in April, or after about number 4,250. This was complicated further by the fact that when the first REAL Fordson Model 'F' was produced for the American market, the engine numbers were continued in sequence, and on top of that, 3,000 engine numbers skipped as illustrated in part III.

As for all those spurious '1917 Fordsons' heard about so often, it can almost be believed that a special factory must have been set up just to make them! Despite this tongue-in-cheek attitude, one cannot believe those seen advertised, as ' 1917 Ford-sons', parading at rallies and even captioned at the Ford Museum in Michigan. An Oregon owner even claims a 1914 Fordson! One '1917 Fordson' shown every year in the North-West was examined by the author and Fred Heidrich of Woodland, California, a Fordson expert in his own right. Not only were all the characteristics and parts from a typical 1919 model, but also the engine number verified this. It seems the present owner, purchased it from a 95-year old gentleman who 'remembers buying it in October of 1917'. Of course this would be impossible as all were being shipped to England at that time. No doubt a lapse in memory has caused the confusion. Even the curator of the Ford Museum, Peter H. Cousins, now admits that the 1917 placard dating of Luther Bur bank's #1 is incorrect. It is a 1918 model!

Then there are those who say the MOM's were Ford-built, looked like a Fordson, had most of the same parts as a Fordson, therefore they should be called a Fordson. But the best answer to this would be: 'When it says Fordson on it, then it is one, not until.' All known makes of tractors have their names proudly cast on the front top of the radiator casting. The MOM's were blank, with no Fordson or even Ford identification of any kind on any part. True, the MOM evolved from the X-9, a 'Henry Ford and Son Tractor', just as the Fordson evolved from the MOM. Sometimes these changes were minor just as they were on the Model T, but still different enough, and with the nameplate missing to categorize the MOM and the Fordson as two distinct tractors in the evolutionary line.