Ever eclectic around here, It’s time to talk tractors.

Ford 8N, designed in the 1930s and last built in 1952. Note the low center of gravity; Not visible is the innovative three point hitch design that keeps it from tipping over backwards, a common problem back then. Ford made a half million of them, and reputedly half of them are still running over half a century later. Always a devoted fan of good design and engineering, I’ve wanted one in the worst way for the last couple decades even when I lived in the city. Even bought a book on them.

Now that I’ve got an acre to play with in the country and had a seven foot tall snowdrift in front of the house last winter, I’ve got some good reasons to add a tractor to the fleet. But then the reality of the N series set in… It doesn’t handle a front end loader well, and it’s a bit big for lawn mowing and such. And how too get one home… It’s a couple hundred pounds too heavy for my “big” trailer.

So I kept looking, even stopped by the John Deere dealer and had a look at their new compact tractors. Diesel power, four wheel drive, every implement you could ever ask for… And a $12,000 pricetag for starters! No point in buying a used one- the little Deeres, Kubotas, ect. go for darn near as much used as new.

Then I wandered around the Prairie Village show, where this year’s theme was garden tractors. Never realized there were so many brands and models, and I fell in love with these:

That’s a Ford 1200 series diesel tractor with four wheel drive, circa 1980. Ford had a whole line of these little tractors and even diesel powered riding mowers back then, designed by Ford and built in Japan by Shibauru (hope I didn’t mispell that). This one’s for sale at a local dealer, asking price is $4900, and I’m doing my best to resist. It’s an awesome little tractor, but parts supply is iffy. In fact, parts supply for even the baby Deeres of that era is iffy. But an unstyled Deere from the 30s, an IH Cub, or a Ford N series… “How many of that part would you like?”

Sadly, Ford turned their back on their heritage about two decades ago and gave there legendary tractor divison to New Holland, who now has merged with Case which merged with IH to form the great big tractor company currently know as Case New Holland. No wonder parts are hard to find… Just the parts books for all the brands they merged probably take up the whole parts department!

Like I said, I’m doing my best to resist… Maybe I should offer them $4000 for it?

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