Ford 8N Tractor with Propane Conversion
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  1. #1
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    Default Ford 8N Tractor with Propane Conversion

    I just picked up a new project today (because when you have too many, you're supposed to get more). A 1949 Ford 8N tractor. It's pretty rough but I think it'll get going with a little help and give me a hand with groundskeeping around the shop. Mainly mowing and dirt work, but I'd also like to get a PTO wood chipper going if I can find one that'll work with the horsepower.

    There was some faint writing under the hood that it was rebuilt in 1990, it has a 2016 battery, and the prior owner last ran it 3 years ago, apparently with no issues. But it wasn't needed and sat exposed to the elements. It turns over freely and the oils are clear. Front tires are shot, but rear are good. Radiator has a hole in it and there's lots of rust in the sheet metal. It appears to have been converted to 12 volt, but theres a lot of wire rot, so I have a new harness ordered.

    What I could use help with is the fuel system. A selling point for me is that it has a propane conversion, but I'm not finding a whole lot of info about them online, just kits for sale. I know the carb has been replaced and there is some kind of gas regulator system on top of the block that is plumbed into the radiator lower hose and engine water jacket. They have the bottle mounted vertically in front of the radiator, but the mount needs work, and I'm not a fan of having it block the grill, so I might see about moving it somewhere else. I'm also concerned that the rubber hoses and gaskets may need attention. Does anyone know of any diagrams or other resources that could help me troubleshoot it as a supplement to the information in the old manuals?

    Despite its ragged looks, right now I plan to get it running and put to work. Later it'll get body work and paint. I might go back to the original gas carb system someday, but I Iike that with the LP gas it'll run cleaner and it can share gas bottles with our forklift. I like how simple these old tractors are and that parts are so easily found. One more project....

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    you need to get onto this site Smokstak(R) Antique Engine Community

    pick the correct forum which will be antique tractors with rubber tyres then post your questions there.

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    I'm with you on the propane. Several friends have 8N and 2 popper Deere mowers and every spring they have to deal with junk gas and chinese carburator problems.

    What I have always done on propane forklift systems is look up the part numbers on the components and see which is cheaper- A rebuild kit or an entire brand new one.

    Propane stuff is dirt simple. There's a couple different styles of shutoffs

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    Like Garwood said, you should be able to get the numbers off any of the LP specific parts and order them. Also, if you have a decent forklift repair/dealer close they will be able to help you with any of the parts and service as well. My local shop was able to tell me over the phone what I had when I described it to them when I got my first lift.

    Also, pay attention to the tank, I think vertical and horizontal have a different pickup system or tube in them so you can't use a vert in place of a horizontal etc. I have vertical and horizontal tank lifts and I keep an extra for each and don't switch them around.

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    There is something to be said about propane, especially on something that sits. Modern gasoline starts going bad after about a month, where propane never goes bad and gums things up.

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    They made factory propane tractors in the 50's so it is old tech. Should be easy to work with. Only thing is some kind of auto shutoff so it does not drain the tank when sitting. they make conversion kits for push lawnmowers all the way up to big car and truck engines.
    Bill D.

    Deere case ford made propane tractors.
    LPG tractors by John Deere - farming with gas | gazeo.com

    TractorData.com Ford 850 tractor information

    Massey Ferguson 65 with LP-gas engine. | Tractors, Tractor photos, Massey ferguson

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    Quote Originally Posted by M.B. Naegle View Post
    I just picked up a new project today (because when you have too many, you're supposed to get more). A 1949 Ford 8N tractor. It's pretty rough but I think it'll get going with a little help and give me a hand with groundskeeping around the shop. Mainly mowing and dirt work, but I'd also like to get a PTO wood chipper going if I can find one that'll work with the horsepower.
    The low compression engines can produce carbon sparks out of the exhaust pipe. The exhaust pipe running along the bottom of the tractor can also be a fire hazard. If you are working in dry grass it will be worthwhile to install a spark arrestor and a exhaust manifold adapter that uses a vertical exhaust pipe and muffler. The parts are cheap and available at the online old tractor stores.

    The brown viscous sludge that was used in the transmission can be replaced with the modern universal tractor fluid. There may be more leakage at the 3-point lift piston and leakage at the rear axle seals- brake drum area. The Ferguson TO30 ( a close relative of the 8N) did not have a problem with the switch to the modern oil.

    If you are working in a very dusty area it may be worthwhile replacing the oil bath air filter with a modern cartridge filter.

    The early tractors have a reputation for roll overs and back flips. If you are working on a slope extend the rear wheels all the way out. If you are pulling make sure that the pull cable is attached to the swinging draw bar. Attaching a cable above the center line of the axle WILL cause a back flip.

    The 3 point lift can support about six hundred pounds before the front wheels lift off the ground. There are front wheel weights available that will increase the 3 point load capacity.

    The tractor will travel about 3 miles/gallon of fuel.

    A 3 point mower or a chipper should have both a over running clutch and a friction (overload) clutch on the drive line. The over running clutch prevents the mower from forcing the tractor forward when the drive line speed exceeds the PTO speed. The friction clutch is needed to prevent a mower jam from shearing the PTO shaft. The PTO is not designed to take side loads. The telescoping drive line should have sufficient travel to avoid bottoming out at its shortest orientation.

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    Thanks for all the input.

    Luckily things won't be too dry and dusty most of the time, but I'll definantly keep an eye on the exhaust. We currently have some guys that mow around the shop regularly, but they only get the wide open areas and I want to get the overgrown edges all under control. Theres some dirt to smooth out and a bit of brush and trees to clear out.

    We also have a 3 sided storm containment pond that takes up a big area, but it's not dug out deep enough so when we get heavy huricane rains off the gulf, it starts flowing around the pond before the spillway can do anything. So that will be a majority of the dirt work, scraping the bottom out and using that dirt to build up the low areas on the property. There is also a trench that keeps filling up with tall grass and making it hard for water to get through, so I want to bury some corugated pipe in it to fix the problem. The dirt that was dug out of the trench when the pond was made is still in a big pile.

    Ultimately, the property is only 30% fenced and I want to get it opened up enough to close in the fence. We've had some trespassing and a vehicle broken into, so getting fences up will hopefully help (in addition to upgrading our camera system and outside lighting).

    We had quoted having a construction guy come in and do all this, but the cheap quote is still a long ways away from our budget, so I've been chipping away at it in the evenings, but you can only get so far with a weedeater and a chainsaw....

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    Here are some pics.
    img_0659.jpg
    img_0660.jpg
    img_0661.jpg
    img_0663.jpg
    img_0664.jpg

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    img_0665.jpg
    My 8N was the older model that didn't have a "proofmeter," which was just a tachometer with a fancy face that told you what gears to be in for what and had an hour-meter built in as well. It looks like it would be handy to add someday and to do so I would just need to swap out the governor and dash panel out for later model versions that accept the meter and cable.
    img_0666.jpg
    It looks like someone already installed a PTO clutch, so I'm set to run a mower.
    img_0668.jpg
    I think I'm set on moving the tank else-ware. They have it bolted onto the two bolts that hold the hood assembly, and there's a chain tieing it to the front axle to keep it from tipping forward. I'm thinking about moving it to a horizontal mount along the left side of the motor (all our tanks work in both orientations). It'll block some visibility but we'll see how it goes. The grill on the ground I actually found with a hood at the scrap yard a month or so ago. I saved them because I don't like seeing vintage auto sheet metal get melted down, but It looks like it might get put to use.
    img_0667.jpg
    img_0670.jpg
    Here's some shots of the propane parts. Of the two pieces that are on top of the engine, I think the one that ties into the radiator and engine block is meant to keep the propane from freezing, while the other is the regulator. Somehow one or both of them also work to only let the propane flow when the motor is turning over (water pressure perhaps?). The regulator has a priming button on the side too. I'm still picking around at it and getting info pulled off the pieces.

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    And a few more shots.
    img_0669.jpg
    img_0671.jpg
    img_0672.jpg
    img_0673.jpg

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    Ok, I took the hood off and did some scrubing on the propane parts and found some data. They're all made by Impco, all still being made and I can get parts kits for all three components, if not outright replacing them for around $50 a piece. I'm still learning about how it all works and connects together, but nearly all of the information I'm finding on Impco parts is geared towards LP forklifts, so that's where I'm basing my research.
    img_0678.jpg
    img_0675.jpg
    The carburetor is a Model CA100
    img_0676.jpg
    Once of the components up top is a Model J Regulator/Converter/Vaporizer
    img_0677.jpg
    And the other piece is a Model VFF30 Fuel Filter and Lockoff
    img_0674.jpg
    I also opened up the oil bath air cleaner.... it could use some oil...

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    You have the original starter and generator. The starter will work without a problem on 12 volts even though it is designed for six volts. It will spin faster and start the engine quicker.

    I did need to disassemble my starter to remove the copper flash that was shorting out the commutator. This occured after years of fast starting. That is the only drawback.

    The six volt generator can be adjusted to output about 14 volts open circuit. In spite of the high output voltage, installing a 12 volt voltage regulator on the tractor will not allow a 12 volt battery to be recharged. Unless you are using the head lights it does not matter. For periodic use it is easier to install a fully charged battery for the few days that the tractor will be used and then store the battery in the garage during the weeks when the tractor is idle.

    The oil filter is a bypass type. It filters a portion of the oil flow from the block oil manifold. The filter needs to be changed frequently. The oil pressure shown on the gage will not provide a warning when it is time to replace the filter.

    There may be oil leaks at the rear axle seals and at the steering arm gear box if the tractor has not been run for years. The seal replacement is time consuming. The leaks may slow once the seals get some exercise.

    The other potential problem for a tractor that has been sitting idle is rust on the ball weight engine speed governor. The governor is needed for plowing and for some PTO . operations such as your wood chipper.

    The three rib front tires and tubes can be purchased on Ebay The Deestone replacement tire I bought had small side wall cracks within the first year of use. There may be better manufacturers.

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    Yes, the voltage was something else I was looking into tonight. I'm trying to determin if the generator and voltage regulator are actually 12 volts, but I think you're right that they didn't do a full 12 volt conversion. I'm putting the 12 volt battery on a charger to see if it will hold charge or needs to be replaced. The voltage regulator is an old beat up car one that dosn't really fit on the firewall so I want to replace it. If the generator still works, I might just go back to the 6 volt system for the time being. If it's faulty, I'll replace it with a 12 volt alternator and update the tractor. The new wiring harness I have ordered can work with both charging systems.

    I know some of the old straight 6 car engines that had bypass filters could be modified to have full pressure lubrication. I wonder how hard it would be on this motor? I'm hoping to get a few years out of the engine before it needs any major work. I'm planning to flush it with some diesel before replacing the oil and filter.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Robert R View Post

    The three rib front tires and tubes can be purchased on Ebay The Deestone replacement tire I bought had small side wall cracks within the first year of use. There may be better manufacturers.
    Don't count on it. When I dropped out of college I went to work in a tire factory. The Bead and Ply assemblers, who built the bulk of the tire, were on piecework. If a piece of fabric balled up or tore it was thrown aside and fresh was used. There were guys from "waste control" who came around and picked this stuff up. They took it to their area and flattened it out as best they could and separated it by fabric type, nylon , rayon, or polyester. Then it was all spliced together by fabric type without regard to cord size or anything else and the width trimmed. This crap was used for the 6.00X16 front tractor and 7.00X14.5 mobile home tires. OK , I guess if you keep your 8N below 50 or so but still made from scrap fabric.

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    Would I be an a$$ if you pointed out you have the Atlas lathe of tractors?

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    Quote Originally Posted by gbent View Post
    Would I be an a$$ if you pointed out you have the Atlas lathe of tractors?
    Oof! I get it though. On the bright side, I'm not attempting to turn it into a self driving tractor or have it take the place of an 80,000lb. Cat excavator.

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    Quote Originally Posted by M.B. Naegle View Post
    I know some of the old straight 6 car engines that had bypass filters could be modified to have full pressure lubrication. I wonder how hard it would be on this motor? I'm hoping to get a few years out of the engine before it needs any major work. I'm planning to flush it with some diesel before replacing the oil and filter.
    My tractor had seen about 10 years of service as a combination cow chew toy- yard art device. It was in place when I bought the house. In its final years of use the owner had disconnected the rubber hose from the air filter to the carburetor rather than clean out the oil soaked mud in the air filter.

    Your empty air filter suggests that the previous owner may also have taken the easy way approach to tractor maintenance.

    The valves and valve guides will need to be replaced if the engine was run on unfiltered air.

    The mistake I made was turning the engine by hand. I had poured oil into the cylinders before turning the crank. However there was still enough rust that the cylinders were scoured in the process. I ended up replacing the liners, pistons, and rings. A better approach would be to remove the cylinder head and clean out the cylinders before rotating the engine.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Robert R View Post
    My tractor had seen about 10 years of service as a combination cow chew toy- yard art device. It was in place when I bought the house. In its final years of use the owner had disconnected the rubber hose from the air filter to the carburetor rather than clean out the oil soaked mud in the air filter.

    Your empty air filter suggests that the previous owner may also have taken the easy way approach to tractor maintenance.

    The valves and valve guides will need to be replaced if the engine was run on unfiltered air.

    The mistake I made was turning the engine by hand. I had poured oil into the cylinders before turning the crank. However there was still enough rust that the cylinders were scoured in the process. I ended up replacing the liners, pistons, and rings. A better approach would be to remove the cylinder head and clean out the cylinders before rotating the engine.
    Unfortunately I'm already past that point. Given that the oil wasn't milky and it has an updraft carburetor, I figured there wasn't much chance of the cylinders being full of water so I spun it a little to be sure it wasn't seized before I bought it. I can stick my inspection camera in a spark plug hole though to see how bad it is. Worst case, I can get a rebuild kit that includes the pistons, sleeves, and gaskets for under $300. The next level kit with valves is around $500.

    The dry air cleaner is disheartening. I suppose we'll see how things go if I can get it to fire up.

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    Just an update: I've gotten the wiring all replaced as well as the oil and amp meters, ignition and headlight switch's. I've decided to go back to the 6 volt system and have a new battery ready to go. I found out the starter has a busted Bendix and the motor is working intermittently despite getting power through the solenoid, so parts are on the way to straighten that out. The bushing on the Bendix side had also worn down letting the armature rub on the fields, which was probably the main problem. I have a rebuild kit for the propane regulator, as the priming button doesn't seem to be doing anything. New Radiator should be here today too.

    I peered down into one of the spark plug holes and saw some grey carbon build up, but no rust. I might squirt some marvel oil in each cylinder to help the valves get their motion again, followed by the Water/ATF trick to clean once it's running. My hope is that with flowing propane, good point gap, and a good starter, I can convince it to belch some smoke and further troubleshoot from there.

    Also have the front rims broke down and sandblasted. They were pretty rusty so I'm going to repaint them to help the new tires seat. On one the valve stem hole had rusted out to about 1 1/2" diameter, so it got welded up back to size.


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