Ford Select-O-Speed "Custom" Tractor
By: John Smith of Old Ford Tractors
This is our newest lawn mowing tractor. The two main questions "what model is it?" and "what year is it?" are hard to answer. It's a little of everything from several years. It's not a restoration, it's a "custom" tractor. It's built exactly the way I wanted it. The photos and text below will tell the story and describe the parts used during assembly.
After 15+ years of mowing with an 8N I was getting the urge for something different. Occasionally I would think that a live PTO would be nice. More often I wished I could shift gears up or down on the fly, and even more often I was thinking power steering would be nice to have. I knew very little about Select-O-Speed tractors, but decided one of those that was just a few years newer than the 8N could offer all the features I was looking for. On a whim, I picked up a decent running '59 671.
The '59 671 has the 134 cubic inch "Red Tiger" engine with just a few more horses than the 8N, and it had the Select-O-Speed transmission. I soon learned the red hash marks on the shifter gear range numbers meant the transmission would coast in those gears due to the overunning sprag clutch in the transmissions main drive. I mow up and down some steep hills, so I knew this could be a problem. I decided I needed to swap the 671 transmission for a later direct drive clutch transmission from a '63 or '64 model. I was able to locate a '64 model 2000 tractor that was in very rough shape but had a working transmission like I wanted and also had the power steering I would need. Except for a few minor changes, the 2000 is pretty much the same tractor as the 601 series tractors. It came into the shop and was disassembled along with the 671. I didn't think to get a photo of the 2000.
The 671 in pieces. Started cleaning and inspecting and sent everything possible to the sandblaster.
The first batches of parts return from the sandblaster and get in line to be primered.
The direct drive Select-O-Speed from the 2000 was working ok before disassembly and looked reasonably clean inside. Unfortunately, things are not always as they appear.
Once the transmission was all apart I found several major problems inside. It's amazing that it was working as well as it did. So, the hunt was on for another complete direct drive Select-O-Speed transmission to serve as a parts donor for the one that will be the transmission donor to the 671 tractor. Found one at a salvage yard and went to work on it, too.
After a lot of work, lots of hours spent studying the manual, and lots of dollars spent for parts, the transmission is rebuilt and ready.
Closed up and waiting for the next major component, the rear end and hydraulics, to be reassembled.
Parts are primered and the transmission is mated to the assembled rear end.
The 134 engine from the 2000 tractor smoked badly but appeared to have a newer replacement head on it. The engine from the 671 ran very well, but I wanted to rebuild everything on the tractor. Seemed like a waste to rebuild a good running engine so it was put aside and the 2000 engine was selected to be rebuilt for this project.
Once disassembled, the cylinder bores were found to be in terrible shape. The later engines in the 2000 tractors did not have sleeves, so the block went to the machine shop to be rebored .030" oversize. The crankshaft went along to be reground and the head received a fresh valve job.
The "new" engine being reassembled.
The engine is assembled and installed along with the front axle components. Starting to look like it may be a whole tractor again someday.
Three coats of red acrylic enamel and it's ready to start mounting the accessory parts. Yes, it's the darker 8N red, not the more orange red used on the "01" series tractors.
All the power steering components are on, alternator is mounted, and it's able to roll around again. Yes, it's 12 volts.
Wiring is done, radiator is on, and the engine is ready to fire up for the first time.
Running great. Timing is set, pressures are checked and the bands are adjusted on the transmission.
Ready for the first "test drive" up the road and back.
Everything is working fine. A minor adjustment to the footfeed pedal and a small exhaust leak seem to be the only bugs.
It's fall, winter's coming, and the sheetmetal isn't done. Took the tractor to the Illinois chapter F/FCA show as is, without the sheet metal. Carl Davis drove it around and gave the SOS transmission his ok, so I guess my first Select-O-Speed overhaul was a success.
It's springtime and the sheetmetal finally gets finished. Yes, those are 8N script fenders.
All the sheetmetal is painted and installed. Yes, that is the 801 series red/gray paint scheme. Yes, that is an 801 series grille and lower panel. I always thought they had the best looking grille since the 8N. The hood is mounted in the lower 600 series position, however. Yes, that is an aftermarket seat. I like it. Time to attach a rear mount mower and give the tractor it's first workout.
Mowing with the rear mower went just fine, so it was time to transfer all the parts from the 8N mower tractor to this one. Front hubs, tires front and rear, and after a sandblasting and paint job the Woods belly mower deck was installed.
Not much of the original 671 remains, but I put 671 decals on it anyway. It helps to confuse people.
Yes, there's an amp gauge where the fuel gauge should be. I don't like idiot lights, there wasn't room for 4 gauges, and I've never run out of gas, so the ammeter won.
Power steering cylinders are the heavier ones from an Industrial model. You can steer the tractor with one finger.
The mower deck mounting brackets required only a few minor modifications to swap from the 8N to this one.
From the rear it looks just like the 8N it replaced.
From the front it looks like an 801.
It's fall again, but we managed to mow with it four times before the end of the season.
It's been great so far, plenty of power and very comfortable. It's really nice to be able to jump up or down a couple gears when the grass gets thin or thick without missing a beat. The live PTO is nice, too, and the power steering is wonderful when making tight circles and the end of a run.
I guess you'd have to say this tractor is a '52-'64 8N-671-801-2000. The old 8N is still around and the mower can be transferred back to it anytime if need be. But, so far, it looks like this one is going to be all I had hoped it would be.
Thanks to John Smith of Old Ford Tractor for allowing us to use this information.