The Real Fordson Story

The X-Series Ford & Son Tractors

| February/March 1986

  • The fordson Tractor
    X-3, X-4: (From Condie and other books) Note angled down exhaust pipe, proto-type air washer, no 1-gallon gas starting tank, early gas Holley 234 manifold, cast spoke front wheels, squarish Holley 295 type float, 16 cleat rear wheels, smaller pulley plate
  • Cast iron throttle control rod
    Only known 'square' hip roof contoured, valve spring cover. Also note magneto plug on right side! (only one in the world!) Note cast iron throttle control rod support. Shows commutator 'spring' different from any production models.
  • Prototype hip-roofed tool box
    Dash with prototype quadrant. Note sheet metal extension for hinges on bottom side of gas tank. Notice the prototype hip-roofed tool box.
  • Two-piece steering rod
    Two-piece steering rod
  • Popular Mechanics, 1917)'
    X-11, X-12: (Popular Mechanics, 1917) Near to a MOM, except has the prototype Holley 234.
  • Ford plowing
    X-13, X-14 (15)?: (The Trac Record, J/F 1978) Lord Northcliffe and Henry Ford plowing with last of X-series just prior to production, about October 1, 1917.
  • 'Real Fordson, part 1'.'
    Mix-up of earlier uni-frame with worm on top, and 'Ford' tractor with X-body, from Dykes, 10th edition 'Ford Supplement'. Note the lower drawings are identical to the previous one in 'Real Fordson, part 1'.
  • Clymer, page 291'
    X-5, X-6: (Clymer, page 291) Note 16 cleats, 'blank' fuel tank, tall stem distributor, early air washer, side-mounted choke rod, etc.
  • Ford Trucks Since 1905
    X-5, X-6: (Ford Trucks Since 1905) Note the actual working model experimented with the front cast wheels and wide rears with oversize cleats. However, these rears still didn't solve the problem of mud buildup, only aggravated it.
  • Tall stem distributor

  • picture from early magazine, property of Tom Brent of Canada'
    X-7, X-8: (picture from early magazine, property of Tom Brent of Canada) Note unusual manifold-carb system tall-stem hookup, prototype air washer, 1st X-series with a pulley shown, hinge points for louvers.
  • Air washer
    Only 'rear' oil filter in the Western Hemisphere. Note early air washer prototype.
  • Sediment bowl
    Overhang on gas tank for hinges and side louvers, also note unusual sediment bowl.
  • Air washer and gas starting tank
    Early air washer and gas starting tank prototypes.

  • The fordson Tractor
  • Cast iron throttle control rod
  • Prototype hip-roofed tool box
  • Two-piece steering rod
  • Popular Mechanics, 1917)'
  • Ford plowing
  • 'Real Fordson, part 1'.'
  • Clymer, page 291'
  • Ford Trucks Since 1905
  • Tall stem distributor
  • picture from early magazine, property of Tom Brent of Canada'
  • Air washer
  • Sediment bowl
  • Air washer and gas starting tank

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.