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A Tractor Before "The" Tractor- Ford 9N?

 
Posts: 6
Location: NC
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Hi Everyone,

So I've been tractor shopping for several months now.  To be honest I haven't ever had this much analysis paralysis from a purchase decision.  Time has been on my side for a while as the farm we bought had most of the pasture leased last summer and fall.  That all changes this Spring so time is now an issue.

So here's what I'm thinking.  Until I've had some time under my belt, I simply don't know if I need a 40 hp tractor if the little 25 hp compact tractor types will be the job done.  It's such a big expense I don't want to screw it up simply because I'm in a time crunch.  SO....

A local farmer has an old (and I mean 1949 old) Ford 9N that has been cleaned up real nice and is selling the thing along with cultivator and disc implements for around $3,500. Anyone have experience with these old Ford tractors, and does my logic make sense?  I love old tractors so there's definitely some nostalgia, but I want to make a smart spending decision here and I just don't know that I know enough to go out and spend big money on a "forever tractor."

Thanks!
 
master pollinator
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I don't have much experience with tractors, but those older tractors are in high demand in the Vineland, New Jersey area, farmers there seemed to love them. I drove one twice a month for field cutting using a brush hog. I don't recall if it was a Ford 9N, but it was an old Ford built in 1949. It was easy to use, easy to do maintenance  on after each run. The old farmer did his own repairs on it.

Whatever you do, I suggest that you avoid the computerized new tractors. There's one here and it's owner bitterly complains about it. Apparently you can't do you own repairs on them.

Maybe Travis can chime in here.
 
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Michael Cranford wrote:A local farmer has an old (and I mean 1949 old) Ford 9



I owned a Ford 8N tractor for a lot of years.  Wish I still had it. I currently own an ISEKI TS2205 tractor.  It is a Japanese produced copy of a Bolens G242.

There are pro's and con's to old tractors.

Old tractors have fewer mandated safety features.  The responsibility is on you.  I almost flipped my 8N a number of times.

Tractors prior to say 1980 were designed to be serviced by farmers and local mechanics.  I think the quality of manufacturing and materials of older tractors is better than newly produced ones.

I've listened to local farmers talk about being shut down for a week while the were waiting for some replacement electronic module from the factory.   Not to mention the recent legislative trends to forbid users from servicing their equipment.

The available knowledge base for old tractors is much, MUCH, larger.  People have had more time to learn the idiosyncrasies and develop fixes or work arounds.

Parts may not be available in the retail space in a lot of cases ..... but they can be found in the "junk" sales places and or fabricated from scratch.


Myself personally ......  I'd have a tractor mechanic you trust go through the engine, tranny, and hydraulics.  Pay particular attention to the rear brakes.  That was a constant problem with my 8N.  

I'd look hard at the implements.  Do you really need what is bundled with the tractor?    The tools I use the most are a tiller,  a disc, a bush-hog modified to be a part time shredder, a scoop shovel, a push/pull dozer blade, and a three point lift platform.  

Right now I am building an Imbert wood gasifier for fuel.  Harder to do that with a tractor that has a chip controlled fuel injection.  I am also building a PTO driven electrical generator head.

Hope this helps.
 
pollinator
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Some things to evaluate for your needs beyond just power:

Do you need 4WD?  If you have just one tractor and it gets stuck deep in the mud, a season may go by before you can pull it out.

Are you a decent amateur mechanic?  repair cost for small fixes is still big money.

Don't underestimate how nice power steering can be!!

$3500 seems steep for  a 9N -- running decent with no bucket I would expect to get one for work use for under $2000.

I would say get something usable and not too expensive -- if you get a good deal on an old tractor, you can re-sell for the same price and move to something that fits you more after a few years of experience..

 
pollinator
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I’ve owned a 1950 8n.  The engine was great and really easy to work on. The hydraulics and brakes were weak. We had had a two row John Deere planter that worked great for planting sweetcorn. The 8n was great for tillage and cultivation on a large garden or small farm. The 8 n wasn’t much good for brush hogging any overgrown vegetation. It really bogged the motor down with a 5’ brush hog.Also, the rotation of the mower will push the tractor even with the clutch engaged. You have to use a gadget on the PTO shaft to prevent this or you can’t stop. I think it’s called an overrunning clutch, but that might not be right.  It was about 30 years ago.

Never worked on a 9n. Just remember That early 8ns had the distributor in front under the fan. It was really hard to access. The newer ones had it on the side.
 
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Those tractors were the first to be built without a frame. The engine, transmission and rear axle are in very strong  housings, all bolted together into one giant mass. Orchard managers want them because they sit so low and can go under branches that larger tractors would hit.

I'm not sure if it was these ones or the Fordson, but one or more of the tractors put out by Henry Ford, were built to be the exact width of a railcar, in order to minimize shipping cost.
 
master pollinator
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I have owned a Ford 900 which is very similar to a Ford 9N.

My first thoughts were, $3500 is A LOT of money for a Ford 9N with the attachments you describe, I was thinking more like $1500-$2000, maybe $2500 if it had a loader. Even then, with two wheel drive, and no positraction even, that loader is not going to do a lot of good. I thought our tractor plowed really good, but we used our tractor for logging, bushogging, working in a gravel pit, really everything. So what I am saying is, it really did not do much well. It was completely useless in the woods, and in the gravel pit! It was heavy, lacked four wheel drive, had no positraction, had no power, and only had four gears, and I thought first gear was too high for most work, like bushogging and rototilling. I would politely, but firmly pass on the deal.

I think if you could swing it, a modern Compact Tractor would better fit your needs. I have hundreds of acres, and yet I get by with a 27 HP Kubota. The real work gets done with implements anyway, so save your money on the tractor purchase, and buy more implements, or try and get a package deal at purchase. And many, many used implements are out there too. Normally it would seem a $3500 on a used tractor would mean more implements, and it would, but that is also assuming the Ford 9N would pull them well enough. I do not think it is worth it.

The Ford9n's are getting popular again, but I do not think it is for the right reason; its demographics. Just like the treadle sewing machine that is making a comeback right now. That is happening because as people get older, they remember their grandmother's sewing clothes on one of those old machines. It has nothing to do with them being great machines; it is nostalgia, and as we age we want those comforting memories, and so with some extra money, people buy them. The lag on that tends to be grandchildren remembering their grandparents, and not so much children remembering their parents, which is why there tends to be a 70 year gap on this stuff. It is the same way with these old tractors. It is for nostalgia that people are buying them, not really for their ability. (Incidentally I have (3) treadle sewing machines, but would never buy a Ford 900 again). :-)

I normally do not recommend buying anything on credit: I am a cash only guy, but tractors I make an exception for. I bought my Kubota in 1999 for $14,200, and it is worth almost today what I paid for it 20 years ago. That is a wise investment, not to mention all the work it has done. With zero percent financing, and some other offers they have now, compact tractors in the 27 HP range will get you a lot of work accomplished, for a pretty good deal. And ask about package deals. Like A Tractor, bush hog and box blade...that is a package deal, but the dealer has other combinations. Ask about other combinations and see if you can get a package deal that is close to what you want to accomplish the most with it.

If I sound harsh on the Ford 9N it is because me and my father both keep saying, "Wouldn't Grandfather lie to have had this Kubota." We say that because it can do so much more than what the Ford 900 we had could ever do.
 
Michael Cranford
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SO helpful everyone- I'm always blessed by the willing minds and breadth of knowledge I find in these forums.  Thanks to those of you who have chimed in on the reliability of those older Fords as well as those who have chimed in on the price.  That's huge.  I am fortunate enough to have a good friend whose father was a tractor mechanic for 40+ years, and he'll have his eye on anything I buy.  That makes my comfort level in GENERAL go up, as I can tinker well enough to do some regular service work.

Travis, thank you as well for your wisdom on this.The debt thing is a struggle for me.  I too am a cash only guy and stomaching a big loan on a tractor seems like a leap.  That aside I would probably just run over to my local Kubota dealer and buy a 2501 or 3801 package deal with a rotary cutter and tiller.  It's that monthly payment that haunts me brother. I've also seen story after story of people regretting their first "big" tractor purchase, usually because they bought too small.  It's helpful to know how much you're able to manage with a 25hp though.

Through the collective wisdom I'm concluding that regardless of whether I'm comfortable with an older tractor, this particular older tractor is overpriced.  I'll post an update to the thread whenever I have one to share.

Thanks everyone!
 
Travis Johnson
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Michael Cranford wrote:SO helpful everyone- I'm always blessed by the willing minds and breadth of knowledge I find in these forums.  Thanks to those of you who have chimed in on the reliability of those older Fords as well as those who have chimed in on the price.  That's huge.  I am fortunate enough to have a good friend whose father was a tractor mechanic for 40+ years, and he'll have his eye on anything I buy.  That makes my comfort level in GENERAL go up, as I can tinker well enough to do some regular service work.

Travis, thank you as well for your wisdom on this.The debt thing is a struggle for me.  I too am a cash only guy and stomaching a big loan on a tractor seems like a leap.  That aside I would probably just run over to my local Kubota dealer and buy a 2501 or 3801 package deal with a rotary cutter and tiller.  It's that monthly payment that haunts me brother. I've also seen story after story of people regretting their first "big" tractor purchase, usually because they bought too small.  It's helpful to know how much you're able to manage with a 25hp though.

Through the collective wisdom I'm concluding that regardless of whether I'm comfortable with an older tractor, this particular older tractor is overpriced.  I'll post an update to the thread whenever I have one to share.

Thanks everyone!



I think some of that regret for an undersized tractor though is not really well founded.

You mentioned having a 25 HP or a 40 HP tractor, but the rule of tractors is, to make a meaningful jump up, a person should double the horsepower. So a person like me should not go from a 25 HP tractor to a 40 HP, but rather a 50 HP tractor. Of course then a person has to get all bigger implements because its what the tractor can pull that counts.

This is just my situation, but I cannot do that. I can and could be justified in buying a bigger tractor, but goodness there is no way I could afford to scale up all the implements that I have. So I limp along with what I do have. Now that means it takes me a lot longer to plow a field, but here is the thing, I do that once every few years. Big deal, so I spend more time on my tractor once every couple of years plowing because I only have a single bottom plow. There are worse things in life.

Myself, I would rather have the right sized tractor for 95% of what I do, and take longer to that 5% then I ever would in having too big of a tractor 95% of the time.

I am not sure people see it that way sometimes though. "Go big or go home". "Oh that is all you have for a tractor?" I think often times its what other people think that influences that small tractor regret. I do not have that issue because I know when I do need a bigger machine, most often it is for a bigger task and there is a specific machine for it. Like digging a pond. I would just rent an excavator for a week and save wear and tear on my farm tractor, and still get me that pond that I want. There is no law that says a farm tractor has to do all your needs, but a person would be shocked at what they can do with a smaller, capable tractor. I just think form experience it requires 4x4 and positraction.
 
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seems quite  high on the price but it is local and don't have to worry about transport but the 9n has its limitations its great for pulling stuff like a plow or harrow but will have problems running a rototiller, bushhog or finish mower will need over run. and slip clutches on the shaft.  my neighbor sold a good running ford jubilee for $1000 a few months ago,  I don't know what part of nc you are in but there are loads of good older tractors in ashville/knoxville/tricities craigslist for less money. you have to jump on a deal when one comes up and grab it before someone else does. the overpriced tractors stay up for sale for months. depending on how many acres you have and what you might want to run with it a live pto, dual range gear box and power steering come in very useful, if money no object a new Kubota would be my choice, but those old American tractors kind of have 9 lives and parts are reasonable in price and easy to find, there are loads of massy diesels around and they can sometimes be found for short money. also might want to look at govdeals web site for retired municipal machines many that have been properly maintained by city/county/state money no object facilities.
I got a 50hp international utility tractor for 1200 a couple years ago all it needed was to have fuel line unplugged. in my hilly terrain a utility tractor is great because it sits a few inches lower to the ground and there is much less chance of it tipping over.
just a little info to help in your quest for a tractor
 
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Michael,

I am coming a little late to the party, but personally speaking I largely agree with Travis.

Years ago, forced by circumstances, I too bought a starter tractor.  In my case it was a new JD 2305 subcompact.  I ended up owning it for 13 years and while it ultimately did everything I asked of it (plus a bit more) in the end it was too small a tractor.

I eventually sold my 2305 (too my neighbor) and bought a JD 2038r.  The new tractor is a 37hp tractor and fits the bill perfectly.  I wished that I could have afforded this tractor when I bought my old one.  It would have been cheaper to do so.  But I bought what I thought I could afford at the time.

I do agree with Travis that even a smaller compact tractor can be extremely helpful.

Good Luck,

Eric

 
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My reply in the other thread stating safety concerns over older tractors here and some possible advantages of 2-wheel vs 4-wheel tractors in certain situations.
 
bruce Fine
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heres a nice tractor at reasonable cost

https://tricities.craigslist.org/grd/d/blountville-1710-ford-tractor/7040588125.html
 
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Michael Cranford wrote:Hi Everyone,

So I've been tractor shopping for several months now.  To be honest I haven't ever had this much analysis paralysis from a purchase decision.  Time has been on my side for a while as the farm we bought had most of the pasture leased last summer and fall.  That all changes this Spring so time is now an issue.

So here's what I'm thinking.  Until I've had some time under my belt, I simply don't know if I need a 40 hp tractor if the little 25 hp compact tractor types will be the job done.  It's such a big expense I don't want to screw it up simply because I'm in a time crunch.  SO....

A local farmer has an old (and I mean 1949 old) Ford 9N that has been cleaned up real nice and is selling the thing along with cultivator and disc implements for around $3,500. Anyone have experience with these old Ford tractors, and does my logic make sense?  I love old tractors so there's definitely some nostalgia, but I want to make a smart spending decision here and I just don't know that I know enough to go out and spend big money on a "forever tractor."

Thanks!


I question if it is a 9n if it was from 1949.
9N Introduced in 1939, replaced by the 2N in 1942 which was then replaced by the 8N in 1947.
If it's an 8N, and I have one of those, it's the better deal as it now has a 4 speed transmission rather than the 3 speed of the 9N.
Easy to work on, an active forum on their repair and upgrades, parts are plentiful and fairly cheap and a lot of engine parts exchange with the old Ford flathead V8 car engines.
There are no real reliability issues except for the ignition which has the coil mounted on top of the distributor and it's on the front of the engine.
I gave up on mine, designed and built a CDI ignition for it; cured all the problems.
Easiest way to tell is that the 9N has footpegs for the driver but the 8N has running boards.
 
Travis Johnson
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We had a 1958 Ford 900 growing up. It was kind of rare because it was a wide front end with a diesel engine. That was a rare combination in 1958.
 
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