Last month in this column I wrote about vintage tractor accessories we had on our tractors when I was growing up. If you remember, I included the yellow umbrella and fender-mounted radio on our John Deere 4010 and an axle-mounted tool box and automatic brake release devices on our 620.
I asked if anybody had stories about their own interesting tractor accessories over the years would they please send them my way. I did have one person send me an email; here is his story.
"Your column on tractor accessories brought to mind those from a time even earlier than you talked about. I grew up in the 1950s driving Ford 8Ns -- we had two of them.
"An umbrella was a common accessory then as well. It was a long way from air conditioning, but really helped on a hot day.
"You are correct that it did not work well in strong winds. It also did not function very well when traveling between fields in road gear. It also reduced headroom and kept you from standing up while driving through the field as we often did to stretch our legs in the days before comfortable cushioned seats.
"We also had some other accessories. The Ford tractors delivered from our local dealer always came with a grease gun and holder bolted to one of the fenders so we always had a grease gun handy to grease implement bearings that needed frequent greasing.
"The Ford 8Ns generally also came with two wrenches: an open-ended wrench that would fit the rear wheel lugs and smaller end that fit front wheel lug nuts and other bolts on the tractor. (I still have one of these wrenches). A high-arched box-end wrench was also included that fit the spark-plugs and other bolts -- we referred to it as the spark-plug wrench.
"Other accessories were also available for purchase. One of our tractors had a front bumper bolted to the front axle. It had four horizontal bars with a hitch welded to one of them. This provided some protection for the grill and offered a handy front hitch for some tasks.
"One of our tractors also had a pre-cleaner for the air cleaner mounted on the side of the hood and included a small glass jar to collect dirt. Ford also made a tractor jack that was used to lift the tractor using the tractor hydraulics. One part of the jack was placed under the rear axle and rested on the ground.
"Connected to this was another section that was attached to the tractor's lower 3-point hitch arms. Another section was connected by a chain and placed under the tractor's front end.
"Then the tractor was raised by using the hydraulic lever to raise the lift arms and in turn lift the tractor clear of the ground. This was useful for removing and turning the rear wheel dishes in and out and widening the front axle for cultivating or moving them back again for other tasks.
"Another useful accessory we had was the spark-plug air pump. A spark-plug was removed from the tractor and the small compressor unit (about the size of a spark plug) was inserted. An air hose was then connected to the compressor.
"The engine was started (running on 3-cylinders) and engine compression was used to pump air into flat tires. This was a real labor saver in the days before we had air compressors in our shop. I still have the old spark-plug pump and hose coiled and hanging in our farm shop.
"This is a few of the accessories for the Ford 8N that come to mind after reading your column."
A big thanks to Melvin for taking the time and effort to write me about his memories about tractor accessories. It was interesting to read some of the items he had along with the Ford 8N tractors he grew up with.
The engine air compression was something I was not aware, not that I'm an expert on Ford 8N tractors. That is a clever tractor accessory, which you would think would be very handy especially if you were working in the field and had a flat/low tire.
Melvin also mentioned to me that this tractor air compressor was the only air compressor they had on their farm for many years. I guess this makes sense; the tractor was mobile and could fill up any tire at just about any location.
Do you have an interesting story about vintage iron tractor accessories from your past? If you do, let me know.
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