A Peerless Pedal Tractor
Customized Ford 8N dazzles with detail
Above: Gene Gregory with his customized Ford Model 8N. Custom features include a Comfort Cab, half-track, lowered profile, lights and grille.
Craftsman extraordinaire is the phrase
that best describes Gene Gregory. His distinct craft of customizing
pedal tractors has blossomed over the years. Today, Gene's pedal
tractors have been acclaimed by the most avid collectors as
peerless. A Ford Model 8N is the most recent addition to his fleet
of uniquely customized pedals.
Gene lives in farm country in north-central Ohio. While he has
no practical farm experience, he's gained an appreciation for field
machinery while observing farmers working the land. Inspired, he
began restoring and collecting antique tractors years ago, before
the hobby became popular. Then came a passion for pedal tractors.
He subsequently liquidated the antique tractor collection.
One-of-a-kind Ford 8N
While attending an antique tractor show in Portland, Ind., Gene
saw a photo of a unique 1948 Ford 8N: an original factory-built
tractor, with several after-market features. The tractor was
equipped with a V-shaped snow blade on the front, and was
traction-assisted by half-tracks.
On the drive home from the show, Gene pondered the photograph.
"That was a uniquely equipped tractor," he recalls. "I began
visualizing how it would look as a pedal tractor. It inspired a
challenge, and the creative juices kicked in. I just started
tinkering, and this is what resulted."
When Gene tinkers, it is an art form. He does not customize
something without considerable forethought and planning. The
thoroughness of Gene's craftsmanship shows through in his
beautifully customized pedal tractors.
Details under the paint
The first challenge was to find a pedal tractor that resembled
the Ford 8N. Ertl manufactured a nice Ford Model 8N, but it had a
higher profile than the real tractor. Gene made do. "With Ertl
having the only available pedal tractor, I had to work with it," he
says. "I began to cut and shave to accomplish the lower
He started by trimming about 2 inches off under the chassis.
That allowed the axle to be raised, which then meant the sprocket
and chain clearance had to be adjusted. Gene altered the housing
under the seat, accommodating the raised axle. The front end was
lowered and retrofitted as a standard 8N. Front wheels were changed
to accommodate 7-by-1.25 tires. By then he was on the right track
to a scaled-down Ford 8N.