Ford N Series is First Produced
The first of the 'N Series' of Ford tractors was the 9N. It included the first three-point hitch system on tractors, in the United States (Ferguson had used it on the Ferguson-Brown tractor built for him by David Brown Ltd.
in the UK). A design which is still utilized on most modern tractors today. The Hitch was designed to solve some of the problems found in the earlier Fordson tractors such as flipping over if the plow hit an obstruction. The three-point hitch system was labeled as the Ferguson System; Ferguson would later part ways with Ford to set up on his own as the Ferguson Company. The company later merged with Massey-Harris to form Massey Ferguson.
The first Ford-Ferguson tractor was the 9N. The 9N was first demonstrated in Dearborn, Michigan on June 29, 1939. Like the Farmall, it was designed to be a general-purpose row-crop tractor for use on smaller farms. An extremely simple, almost crude tractor, the 9N was fitted with the Ferguson system three-point hitch, a three-speed transmission, and featured footpegs instead of running boards. The 9N's relatively tall and wide-spaced front wheel design resulted in somewhat sluggish steering and reduced maneuverability compared to competing machines such as John Deere's Models A and B, and the Farmall 'Letter series'. Uniquely, the exhaust was routed underneath the tractor, much like an automobile. All 9N tractors were painted dark grey. This tractor has a rear Power Take Off (PTO) which could be used to drive three point or towed implements. This was the first tractor to have both three point hitch and a rear PTO.
The 9N was revised a number of times, until being relaunched as the 2N in late 1941. The 2N still came in dark grey, but now had added improvements including a larger cooling fan and a pressurized radiator. However, the 2N, like the 9N, still had only a 3-speed transmission, a disadvantage compared to the Farmall A and M. By this time, wartime regulations had imposed manufacturing economies, and some 2Ns can be seen with all-steel wheels and a lack of sleeved engines. Batteries were reserved for the war effort, so the all-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 and batteries. All of the 9N and 2N models featured a front-mounted distributor, which proved difficult to service.
Production of the 1948 8N model began in July 1947. Equipped with a 4-speed transmission, this model was destined to become the top-selling individual tractor of all time in North America. 8N production started July 7th, 1947. These tractors were sold as '48 models, so it's technically not correct to refer to one as a '47 8N. It should probably be referred to as an 8N built in '47. The most noticeable differences between the 8N and its predecessors was the inclusion of a 4-speed transmission instead of a 3-speed in the 9N and 2N, and an increase in both PTO and drawbar horsepower. The other big change on the 8N was the addition of a 'Position-control' setting for the hydraulics. This change was made partially to improve flexibility in varying soil conditions, and partially to evade Harry Ferguson's patent on the hydraulic system, since Ferguson's production agreement with Ford had been terminated at the end of the war. The original automatic draft control on the Ferguson system would allow the depth of the implement to vary based on soil conditions, which did not work well for some implements. The new Position Control setting bypassed the draft control and allowed the implement to remain at a consistent position relative to the position of the Touch Control lever. A continued drawback to this series of tractor, was the safety need for an overrunning clutch which was placed at the end of the PTO shaft, to avoid power transfer from the mower into the rear of the transmission. Power is transferred from the engine, through the transmission to the mower which is connected to the 3 point hitch. Problems occurred when the mower is running at full speed, and the operator needs to make a complete forward stop of the tractor, the mower would become the power, and propel the tractor forward, into trees, barns, etc. This problem was solved with the advent of the PTO overunning coupler, which is installed on the rear of the PTO shaft.
The 8N was equipped with running boards and was painted gray on the sheetmetal and red on the body, and was soon known as the 'Red Belly' model. It was the first Ford tractor to feature a clutch on the left side and independent brakes on the right. The wide-spaced front wheel design of the 9N and 2N was retained on the new model.
A rare 8N variation was the US Air force variant, which used a 6-cylinder flathead engine. Later on, Funk created kits that the farmer could purchase to install the flathead 6-cylinder and the Ford V8 into these tractors. In 1950 the 8N design changed to feature a side-mounted distributor, as well as the introduction of the Proofmeter which was located on the lower right portion of the dash. Engine changes were made which now allowed a more easily serviced sleeve thickness from .040" to .090".
Jubilee-NAA 1952 -1954
In late '52 Ford introduced the all new, completely redesigned NAA series tractor for '53 which marked the end of 8N production and started a new chapter in Ford tractor history. 1953 was Ford's 50th anniversary, so the new tractor was called the Golden Jubilee in celebration of that event. The NAA - Jubilee had a more powerful 134 cubic inch overhead valve engine, live hydraulics, and redesigned front sheet metal with the "cyclops" medallion in the center of the hood. It is slightly taller, longer, and heavier than the 8N.
The serial numbers on the first 22,238 NAA models were stamped on the left front of the engine block just below the head.
Serial number location on later NAA models was on the left side of the transmission case just below the flat above the starter bulge.
Serial numbers on all NAA models start and end with a diamond symbol. Because of the two locations for the serial number and the common practice of owners buying rebuilt engines on an exchange basis , it's possible to have an early NAA with a later engine that will have no serial number at all. It's also possible to have a later NAA with an early engine and the tractor will have 2 serial numbers. Another curiosity with NAA serial numbers that is unique to the NAA model is that preceeding zeroes were used on the the low numbers so all have 5 digits (6 on the last ones built). The lowest verified serial number we've heard of is NAA00034 - three zeroes and 34, the 34th production NAA.