Custom-Built Tractors a Crowd Pleaser

Father and son team up to make custom-built tractors
Cindy Ladage
February 2000
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The Ford flathead V8 built by Ray and Mark Favero.
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Ford was the featured tractor at the 1999 Prairie Land Heritage Museum, Steam Show and Fall Festival at Jacksonville, Ill. Fords of all shapes and sizes – from Fergusons to 8Ns, 9Ns to Work masters were on display. But Ray Favero's pair of custom-built Fords outshone all the rest. 

One of Ray's custom-built tractors was built using a Lincoln engine out of a Lincoln Zephyr automobile. The engine was a flathead V12, and Ray used a 1952 8N Ford body. The other model was a Ford flathead V8 100 hp engine. The engine and the tractor frame also were from a 1952 8N Ford.

Construction was a huge undertaking. "Hour-wise, like a dairy farmer, I don't keep track of hours," Ray said. "Just say it took one full winter of shop time to do one!"

The two models displayed at Jacksonville were not the first that Ray and his son, Mark, have taken on. Earlier efforts include a custom 8N crawler and a 60 hp Ford flathead V8. For both models, 8N Ford bodies were used.

Ray's card reads "4-6-8-12 Ford Tractor Collector and Conversions." For the Faveros, it's always been Ford.

"I don't know why," Ray said. "I just like the Ford line. You pretty much have to drive in my yard with a Ford. We farmed with Fords, too, when I was growing up on the farm."

Ray, a retired auto mechanic, worked for the State of Illinois for 30 years. In addition to the custom-built models, he and Mark also do occasional restoration and conversion projects.

"I've been restoring for the last 15 years," he said. "I take a customer once in a while; it keeps me out of the house."

Father and son make a good team. "He does the painting and metal work," Ray said, "and I do the hard iron."

The pair's latest creation is a miniature model of an 8N Ford. It made its debut at the Prairie Land Museum Show.

"I used a big 8N for the measurements," Ray said. "I made the metal out of another 8N. The grille and side panels and fender were cut down out of an 8N."

Although the Prairie Land show was the first show for the custom-built 8N tractor, it was a later debut than the Faveros had planned. Originally, they'd intended to display the model at LeSeuer, Minn., at the National Ford Show.

"The Monday before, we were loading (the model) onto a cart," Ray said. "This was done so we could get the Ford script on the side. Then the tractor rolled over, hitting the hood, the steering wheel and the seat. Then it landed on my foot! I told my son to take it down by the burning barrel, but instead, he started on it again that night."

It was a debut that ended with a bang. The Faveros, though, got the model up and running in time for the Jacksonville show.

"Really, we were lucky," Ray said. "It really messed up my foot, but it could have been a lot worse." At the time, he was ready to ditch the entire project.

The key to such an intricate project, he said, is attitude.

"No job is too hard, if you want to do it," he said. "You have just got to have it in mind." FC 

For more information: Ray and Mark Favero, Braidwood, IL, (815) 458-6810. 

The Prairie Land Heritage Museum: Housing a variety of agricultural equipment and historical farm life displays. For information on tours, 1004 West Michigan, Jacksonville, IL 62650; (217) 243-7262; e-mail: hbpool@msn.com; online at www.prairielandheritage.com.  

Cindy Ladage is a freelance writer based in Virden, IL. 


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