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The first of the N Series built by the Ford Motor Company tractors was the 9N. It included the first three-point hitch system on tractors, which is still utilized today. The three-point hitch system was labelled as the Ferguson System, and Ferguson would eventually break off to become a competitor as first as Ferguson, then merging with Massey-Harris to form Massey Ferguson.
The Ford-Ferguson 9N was a joint venture by Ford and Ferguson based on the Ferguson-Brown Model A. The specific Ferguson-Brown Model A used for development is displayed at The Henry Ford Museum next to the prototype 9N. The major feature difference is the rear PTO on the 9N. Both had the Ferguson three point hitch. The location of the rear PTO on this model apparently set the standard for future tractor models that also used a three point hitch.
The 9N was first demonstrated in Dearborn, Michigan on June 29, 1939. It was designed to be an all-purpose tractor for use on smaller-scale farms. The 9N was revised a number of times, until being relaunched as the 2N in late 1941, with 99,002 of the Ford 9N model built between 1939 and 1942. These tractors carry both the blue oval Ford logo and the Ferguson logo right below it on the top front of the hood.
A prototype 9N from its product development stage is on display at The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn (suburban Detroit) Michigan. Its appearance is slightly different than production models.
The 2N introduced in 1941 was a revised version of the 9N. Some of the main improvements included a larger cooling fan and a pressurized radiator. Efforts to reduce materials used began to be implemented in the United States during World War II, so some 2Ns can be seen with all steel wheels, and also the lack of sleeved engines. Batteries were reserved for the war effort, so the steel wheel tractors came with a magneto ignition system instead of a battery. After the war the steel wheels and magneto system were replaced with rubber tired wheels and batteries. All of the 9N and 2N models featured a front end distributor which was difficult to service.
Official production of the 8N tractor began in 1947. The most noticeable difference between the 8N and its predecessors was its appearance and the inclusion of a 4 speed transmission rather than the traditional 3 speed in the 2N and 9N. The 8N has running boards and was painted grey on the sheetmetal and red on the body, while the 9N and 2N were all dark grey and featured foot pegs instead of running boards. A rare 8N variation was the US Air force adaptation which was a 6 cylinder flathead engine design. In 1950 the 8N design changed to feature a side distributor which was more easily serviced. In 1952, the last year of production, another noticeable change was the switch to eight lugs on the back wheels instead of six and improved brakes.
The 8N was the first model to feature a clutch pedal on the left side, and independent brakes on the right side. One of the drawbacks to the 2N, 8N, and 9N was the lack of hydraulic live lift. In order to raise an implement, the power take off, or PTO, was required to be running. This system could make it difficult to raise a mower when bogged down, as the PTO was required to spin to engage the hydraulic pump. In the next year, 1953, Ford would issue the first overhead valve engine in the Golden Jubilee, also known as the NAA Ford; this tractor was larger than the 8N and featured a live lift system.
Additional information regarding production changes to the N series of Ford tractors can be found N Series Tractor Club.
A large number of theses tractors are in preservation, as a result of the large number made, the compact size and ease (relatively) of repairs availability of parts, and the fact that many people remember them from their younger days.
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