1951 Ford 8N Serial # 362570
The "St.Jude" Restoration Project

By: John Smith of Old Ford Tractors

This 8N restoration project was completed in 2002-2003.

7-10-02 This 1951 Ford 8N tractor will be undergoing a full and complete restoration from the ground up, both mechanical and cosmetic, to return it to like new original condition. This page will be updated regularly to follow the progress until the tractor is completed.


Before restoration

Upon completion of the restoration the finished tractor will be donated to the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital annual charity auction and pork chop dinner which will be held in Brimfield, Illinois on April 12th, 2003. The tractor, along with it's original Ford tool kit and operators manual will be sold to the highest bidder and all proceeds will benefit St. Jude. Some background: In early June we asked Steve Parker, chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Ford/Fordson Collectors, if he knew of a straight 8N we could buy for this project. Steve contacted several other Ford guys and Marvin Baumann in Michigan offered a nice 8N that he had available. He kindly agreed to bring the tractor to Illinois and he and several others have generously contributed to the purchase. The tractor is exceptionally straight and original with excellent sheet metal. The Proofmeter shows only 1557 hours and by all appearances this is probably correct. A quick appraisal finds the engine to be solid but a little tired (smokes), a noisy bearing somewhere in the transmission, and one loose rear hub. Everything else seems in great shape. This is certainly the nicest original tractor we've ever had for a restoration project and will be a pleasure to work on.


7-14-02 Except for some of the component assemblies like the steering box, transmission, and lift cover, the tractor is completely disassembled. Now, each part gets inspected and separated into piles to go to the sandblaster, machine shop, etc. A list will be made of new parts to order and the solvent tank starts running to get everything cleaned up.


7-18-02 The first load of parts is degreased and ready to go to the sandblaster. The calcium chloride was pumped out of the rear tires and all four dismounted. Fortunately, the original rear rims look good inside and out with no major corrosion. The hood is the best one I've ever had. There's no rust and no dents which is very rare. Rear end and axle housings were blasted clean inside with hot soap at the do it yourself car wash.

bearings bearings

7-19-02 The transmission is apart and all the gears look good. The bearing noise wasn't hard to find - all the bearings are badly rust pitted from moisture in the gear case. The differential carrier bearings are pitted also. All the bearings will be replaced.

Starter & generator

7-27-02 While we wait for the majority of the parts to get sandblasted and the engine to get back from the machine shop, we will work on cleaning and rebuilding some of the components on the tractor. Here, the starter and generator are being rebuilt.

Steering box

7-27-02 The steering box is in good shape and will need only new bushings, new seals, and a new upper shaft bearing.

Hyd lift parts

7-28-02 Rebuilding the hydraulic lift controls. Some shadetree "mechanic" has bent the long control rod to avoid replacing the worn cam follower pin. The lift cylinder has some deep scoring in the bore. Fortunately, we have some good used replacements.

New bearings

7-30-02 Preparing to install new bearings on the differential carrier and transmission shafts. We use a high tech bearing heater (old toaster oven) so the warm bearings drop right on and no hammering is required.

Paint supplies

7-31-02 We've collected all the paint supplies for the project. One gallon of gray primer for the gray parts, one gallon of red primer for the red and black parts. Two gallons of lacquer thinner for the primer. Five quarts of red acrylic enamel, one gallon of gray acrylic enamel, one quart of silver for the rear rims and one quart of black for the seat, radiator, radiator cap, etc. Two gallons of enamel reducer and 2 pints of hardener for the paint. Also some sandpaper, abrasive pads, stir sticks, strainers, and a roll of masking paper. Buying this type of paint is not for the faint of heart - the total retail cost for what you see here was about $840.

Spraying primer

8-3-02 All the parts are back from the sandblaster and most are ready for a coat of primer. With temperatures here in the 90's and humidity over 90%, the bare metal will start to rust soon if not covered. Here we're spraying some of the pieces that will be painted red with red oxide primer in our state of the art paint spraying facility.

Red primered parts

8-3-02 The primered parts in the drying area.

Engine block

8-9-02 Parts are back from the machine shop. The engine block and pan have been hot tanked, the crankshaft reground, the flywheel resurfaced, and a new ring gear installed. Once the oil pump bushing and wrist pin bushings are resized the engine reassembly can begin.

Differential assembly

8-13-02 A milestone - the first major component which begins the reassembly, the rear end housing, gets the differential carrier, pinion gear and axle housings installed. The pile of parts will begin to resemble a tractor again soon.

Transmission assembly

8-14-02 Assembling the transmission internals with all new bearings and cups.

Trans & differential

8-15-02 Transmission is assembled and attached to the rear end. We have an extra Sherman Step-up transmission on the shelf and this looks like a good place to use it.

Trans & differential

8-22-02 The rear lift cover is rebuilt and installed as well as the steering box, shifter plate, hydraulic pump, pto shaft, and Sherman transmission.

Engine assembly

8-26-02 The engine is being reassembled with all new pistons and sleeves, new valves and guides, new bearings, etc.

Ready for paint

9-3-02 Another milestone! Thanks to some volunteer help from a friend, all of the mechanical repair and rebuilding is finished and the main part of the tractor is assembled. Now we switch gears and begin the long hours of priming and sanding to prepare the accessories and the sheetmetal parts for painting.

Ready for paint

9-3-02 Several parts have been spot painted or edged with the red paint so that it will be behind and inside all the places it should be. Next step is a thorough cleaning and scuff sanding, masking where necessary, and then the finish coats of red paint will be applied.

Painted red

9-21-02 The main part of the tractor and some of the bolt on parts are painted red.


10-21-02 The remaining red parts, black parts, and the small gray parts are all painted and ready to install. All that remains to be finish painted is the sheetmetal and wheels, then the new tires can be mounted and the final assembly of the tractor can begin. Fall is here and it's cold, so we're hoping for just a couple of warmer, sunny days to allow the last of the painting before the snow falls.


11-2-02 The final assembly of the bolt on parts has begun. Starter, generator, manifold, carburetor, exhaust, dash and wiring, linkages, and lots more have been installed. We're nearly ready to start the engine up for the first time.


11-2-02 The weather is still too cold here and not getting better. Thanks to a local business who donated the use of their paint booth for a couple of days, the sheet metal and other gray parts are finally painted.


11-4-02 All the working parts are assembled and we've got about 40 minutes running time on the engine. It sounds great, and runs very smooth and quiet.


11-4-02 The engine timing has been set, carburetor adjusted, and the head and manifold bolts retorqued after cool down.


11-4-02 We're ready to install the rear wheels and the hood assembly. Only a few hours more work and we can take it for it's first trip up the road.


11-14-02 Finished! A friend with a steady hand volunteered to paint the Ford script on the hood and fenders which was the last detail on this project. As weather conditions permit, we will try to get some good quality "completed" photos of the tractor taken outside.


11-24-02 We managed to get outside and snap a couple of pictures before
the weather turned colder and it started snowing.


11-24-02 The tractor runs and drives really nice. The hourmeter now shows "1.0".
We've had many people ask how much it cost to do this restoration. Since so many of the parts, materials, and services were donated or discounted, we can only estimate that the cost for the tractor itself and all parts and materials purchased at retail price would be about $7500. There was approximately 800-850 man-hours of labor invested.
- Final auction update -
On April 12th, 2003 at 7:15 pm the tractor was sold at the annual St. Jude Children's
Research Hospital dinner and charity auction at the Brimfield Grade School gym in
Brimfield, Illinois. We wish to thank everyone for their wonderful support and the bidders
from around the country who called to place their bids during the auction. The results
were overwhelming to say the least. The final bid - $17,200 for St Jude.


The winning bidder and new 8N owner Steve Schmidgall of Peoria, IL (left).

The following have made contributions to help offset the cost of this project.
Their generosity is greatly appreciated.


Marvin Baumann (MI)
Mark Favero (IL)
Bump Steidinger (IL)
Ford/Fordson Collectors Association
Ed Gooding (VA)
John Sanderson (MI)
Wall's Industrial Services (IL)
Automotive Finishes (IL)
Born Paint Co. (IL)
George & Paula Cooley (IL)
Lyle Lamprecht (IL)
Phil Smith (IA)
Bearing Distributors Inc (IL)
Steve Parker (IL)
Don Barkley Just8Ns (NC)
Charlie Hardesty (IN)
Danny Norman (GA)
Kevin Cassidy (AK)
Roger Elwood (CT)
Al Claeys (MI)
Dean Lake (IL)
Larry Satterfield (IL)
Automotive Spring Co. (IL)
Timber Tractor Sales (IL)
Peoria Tire and Vulcanizing (IL)
Givens Machine Shop (IL)
Caterpillar Inc Mossville Plant Maintenance Department Employees (IL)


Thanks to John Smith of Old Ford Tractor for allowing us to use this information.

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