The Real Fordson Story

The X-Series Ford & Son Tractors

| February/March 1986

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

By Thomas G. Brent

Canadian Fordson Branch Director, Box 150, Dewdney, British Columbia, Canada V0M 1H0

Since the publication of the first article on the 'Real' Fordson Story (GEM, July '85) produced no corrections or additions, the story now continues with a bit of wonder as to why no one noticed the two left wheels in the front and rear view of the first uni-frame prototype!

From October, 1916 and continuing into the first three months of 1917, the field testing weather was nearly over, but a hectic design schedule kept the tractor engineering team busy on design improvement. This must have been a very fertile time. As the new year dawned, America's entry into the war was imminent. Great Britain had a desperate need for an inexpensive, mass-produced small tractor needed to plow the typical small English field. While a great deal of progress had been made from the earlier car-type tractors, Ford was not completely satisfied with the new unitized design, and hesitated about going into full production.

From nearly the beginning of 1917 the following occurred. On February 3rd President Wilson severed diplomatic relations with Germany. In March Henry Ford received permission to build a tractor factory at Cork, Ireland. By setting up in neutral Ireland at the time, Ford would have been free of any accusation of assisting a participant in war. Besides, he may have had some sentimental reasons since Ireland was the Ford's ancestral home. Eventually it was realized that the factory could not get into production until the end of the war since UK firms were tied up with war contracts. Indeed, Fordsons made for the post-war European market at the Cork plant did not get into full production until July 1919. Yet, all editions of the Fordson Operators Manual from early 1918 through 1919 states 'Factories at Dearborn, Michigan and Cork, Ireland'. But by the 8th edition of 1920, the manual says simply 'Manufactured by Henry Ford &. Son, Inc. Dearborn, but 'distributed by the Ford Motor Company, Highland Park.' In a year or so the tractor plant was moved to Detroit. This was of course by the time Ford had finished buying out all outstanding Ford Motor Company stock and re-incorporating the tractor business back into the car company. While the earlier Fordsons used the logos 'Henry Ford and Son, Incorporated, Dearborn' on the driver's end of the gas tank, starting in 1922 it read FORDSON, Ford Motor Company, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A.