Ford Flathead V-8-N

This is a conversion I never considered building. Since kits are available to make a Ford flathead V-8 conversion into an 8-N tractor there are usually a couple at each show. My personal preference is to build a "One of A Kind" type of tractor. When I was a youngster and being raised on a farm I was interested in anything mechanical. I remember buying my first "Hot Rod" magazine around 1950 and reading it over and over from cover to cover. I learned all about gaining power through higher compression ratios. Of course back then everything was based off of the Ford flathead engine as that was the only engine used in hot rods before the introduction of overhead valve engines by Cadillac and Oldsmobile and later Ford and Chevy.

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I once proceeded to remove the head gasket from the Briggs & Stratton engine on our reel type lawnmower. I replaced the head using only Permatex sealer to see if I could see a power gain by raising the compression without a gasket. I believe it sounded more powerful but I thought I better get that head gasket back on before my dad saw what I was doing. I recall my father having a 1936 Chevy that was abandoned. Back then farmers did not trade in a car, they put them behind the barn. I began experimenting with that car to figure what made it run but I could not relate anything I learned in the Hot Rod magazines to an overhead valve six cylinder engine in that Chevy.

When I was fifteen years old I rode my bicycle to a weekly consignment auction held in our neighborhood. There was a 1935 Ford four door that was put up for auction. I thought, boy if I could buy that car with a Ford V-8 engine I could relate to what I had read and learned about those engines. The auctioneer was a friend of the family so when I began bidding on the car he questioned if my dad knew what I was doing. I assured him my dad did know. I ended up being the last bidder and I owned my first automobile for $35.00.

I had my dad drive it home where I began working on it. There was water leaking into the oil so I removed the cylinder heads and discovered a cracked cylinder wall. It was number three cylinder on the left bank and it was a vertical crack about 1 1/2" long. No problem, I went to town and bought a can of stop leak and cured the leaking situation. Then with the right head installed I wondered if the car would run on only the right bank of cylinders. Sure enough, it started right up and I was able to observe the operation of the valves and pistons in action. I was absolutely fascinated not only with the operation of the motor but that it would run on only four cylinders.

I worked on that car and knew how to replace a clutch, repair the engine and the general workings of an automobile.

When I turned sixteen and got my drivers license I traded the 1935 Ford in on a 1941 Ford two door sedan. Again it was common on the older Fords to replace the clutch by removing the differential and transmission which I was getting pretty good at doing. While in high school I was attended a vocational education school specializing in automobile repair. All of my friends also had Ford automobiles and in the shop class our cars were the subject vehicles we worked on. Then as a senior in high school it was time to get a job. A friend of mine was working in a Chrysler/Plymouth dealership and they needed someone to clean and service vehicles that were traded in. I applied and was accepted for that position. I was a God sent to the mechanics in the Chrysler dealership as they despised working on Ford vehicles. Back then a Ford vehicle required a lot of maintenance. Motto's such as "Ride a while, Walk awhile" and "Fix Or Repair Daily", the first letters of each word spelling out FORD were common. In that dealership I also had daily encounters with the fabulous Chrysler "Hemi-Engines" as I graduated into servicing vehicles.

My 1941 Ford car was the first Ford V-8 engine I modified. That was done using dual carburetors and high compression heads. This car was the beginning of many engine modifications and engine conversions I completed since that time.

With that background it was only natural I would make this most recent flathead Ford V-8 into a Ford 8-N tractor conversion if only for nostalgic purposes.

Good friends of mine, Don and Dave Knasel of the "Awesome Henry Company" provided me with the adapter plate and sub frame. They offer the complete conversion kit but I preferred to add my own personal touch to the conversion. This included moving the fuel tank from under the hood to the rear of the tractor and also incorporating a tilt hood design. As I was building and designing this tractor conversion a lot of memories passed through my mind of the Ford flathead engines in my past. An example was the 1950 Ford six cylinder two door sedan I purchased when I was working in a Gulf Gas Station and Garage. I brought the car in the shop after work that evening and with the help of co-workers installed a flathead V-8 into the car and drove it home that night. I remember the many trips we made to the circle race track where we raced under NASCAR sanctions with the Ford V-8 flathead engines. Most race cars in our circuit were 1932-40 Ford coupes. These same cars are a luxury to own today, back then they were just another $25.00 car in plentiful supply.

I plan to show this tractor at upcoming shows along with the other 8-N engine conversions I have made and are in my possession. In the business world it is said that "Nostalgia is fatal" referring to something that was successful in the past and is being resurrected. To me this project took me back to the beginning of my career and my lifetime love of the automobile, and especially the Ford flathead V-8 engine. In my situation I can say that "Nostalgia is a vitamin for the mind".
Ford Flathead V-8-N