On our Fordson tractor, there are parts from nearly every version of the Fordson that was sold on. Most of the parts are from the 1918 - 1919 Fordson, so we can safely assume that the original tractor is from that era.
It was not uncommon for farmers to take parts from broken down tractors to fix a broken part on another tractor. This is clearly what happened to our tractor.
The gas tank, the left rear wheel, and the drawbar have all been replaced with ‘newer’ parts from different tractors.
This tractor was especially difficult to accurately date because its serial number is missing. There should be a plate with the serial and model number on the body of the tractor near the steering column or on the engine block, but it is nowhere to be found. Part numbers are still visible, however it is difficult to use those numbers to date the machine due to limited information available and the swapping of parts between tractors.
All Fordson Model F tractors that came off the assembly line were painted grey on the body and had red wheels. Our tractor was repainted, but is not the original colour or paint design. None of the engine parts are seized, and with a bit of TLC, this tractor will still run.
The Fordson ushered in the age of tractors. Its goal was to enable average, hardworking farmers to buy a tractor at an affordable price that they could maintian by themselves. It retailed for $750 in 1918, and the price continued to go down as production became more efficient.
Although the Fordson was a quality tractor, it had its difficulties. The first versions of the tractor had the worm gear, which provides torque to the back wheels, directly under the seat. After operating the tractor for a while, the heat produced from the worm gear would become unbearable to the driver. This was fixed by changing the position of the worm gear. Unfortunately, that caused an even worse problem, because the main gear that drives the Fordson changed position, so did the centre of gravity for the tractor. The front end had far less weight on it than the back and resulted in a very unbalanced, tippy tractor. When farmers were plowing or harrowing in the fields, if they hit a rock or stump, in an instant, the tractor would flip head over tail backwards, often injuring or killing the operator. This lead the Fordson to be infamously known as “The Widow Maker.”
Back in 2017 our staff wrote a new post each week about a different artifact from our Museum collection. We no longer keep up this tradition as we have moved on to other projects, but we have left them on our site for interest's sake. Enjoy this sneak peek of our Museum and make sure to stop on by to see more!