The Ford Tractor Influence

A Minnesota man catches Ford tractor fever from his dad.

| March 2017

Keith Kvistad doesn’t know for sure where his father’s love of Ford tractors came from, but the Belle Plaine, Minnesota, man got an inkling when he saw an aerial photograph of the aircraft carrier his father served on during World War II. On the deck of the USS Salerno Bay, Keith spotted tug tractors. He later learned they were Ford-Ferguson 2N Moto-Tugs.

Were those tugs the motivation for his father’s choice of farm equipment? Keith doesn’t know – and his father died in 1973, so the question will never be answered. But the acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree. “My dad always farmed with Ford tractors on the farm I grew up on,” he says, “so I turned that way, too.”

Today he’s reduced his collection of Fords to a unique trio: a 1949 8N, a 1944 Ford-Ferguson 2N Moto-Tug BNO 40 and a 1947 2N. Once he had seven tractors, but since moving from the farm to town, he’s downsized. “Too many batteries and too many carburetors, for one thing,” he says, “and now I have to keep them at my brother’s farm since I live in town. I just don’t have a spot for everything.”

1949 8N Highboy tractor

Keith bought his first Ford – a 1949 8N – in 1996. About a year after he finished restoration of the 8N, he remembered seeing a “really tall” 8N in Clarkfield, Minnesota, near where he grew up.

“I went back and knocked on the door of the people who I thought owned it,” he says, “and asked if they by chance still had that tall tractor.” They did, but they had removed the stilts years earlier. Keith found all the parts – a bit rusted – in a nearby grove. He wanted to buy the seller’s 8N too, but it was still being used. So he decided to put the stilts on his own 8N.

The stilts were originally sold as a factory-built kit by Tractor Stilts Co., Omaha, Nebraska. The aftermarket modification allowed the farmer to drive above corn to de-tassel or drop-nozzle spray the rows. “The stilts enable you to use your existing tractor instead of buying a sprayer,” Keith says. He has the original spray tank and the booms that cross the front axle, but he’s never put them on.