Building an Aftermarket Fordson Tractor

One Fordson tractor collector decides to build one from aftermarket parts.

| April 2014

A group of us Fordson tractor enthusiasts were talking about all the aftermarket accessory parts made for the Fordson tractor in the 1920s, when more than half of all tractors made were Fordsons.

It looked as if it would be neat to put a Fordson together with as many of these aftermarket parts as could be rounded up. This looked like a challenge to just see if it could be done.

Finding a Hercules

The Hercules Engine Co. made an attachment to put a Hercules O or OX engine in a Fordson. It had a water pump, magneto, gasoline carburetor and oil pump. I placed an ad in Hemmings Motor News. I was really surprised when I got a phone call from a fellow in Wisconsin saying he had a Hercules on an old Fordson that he would sell and he priced it. I told him I was interested.

When I called back to say I was coming to get it, he jacked up the price. But I said I was still coming up to Elkhorn, Wis., to get it. My son-in-law and I drove up on a Saturday. The seller was at work, so I had to finish dealing with him through his wife over the phone. You really have bargaining power when pulling a trailer. We got this over and the tractor loaded. Basically, all I was after was the Hercules engine and the parts to get it on the Fordson. Boy does machinery rust up by the lakes compared to what I had been getting out of western Kansas and the Dakotas. The fender brace irons were half rusted away and the cast parts were really pitted. We got home after dark. The better half and dear daughter ended up doing the evening chores.

License plates seal the deal

I put in another ad for a Hamilton rear end for a Fordson. It has a bevel rear end instead of a worm gear but used Fordson transmission gears. This makes the tractor’s wheelbase 10 inches longer. It is claimed that one could pull a 3-bottom plow with this rear end as the worm sucked up that much power. I got one call on the ad — from Canada. The caller had an interesting Hamilton; it had a fourth gear and an internal PTO. He wanted to trade it for a certain size Case steam engine for his boiler. I told him I had nothing like that.

Some years before when I was at a Chickasha, Okla., swap meet, I had seen a Hamilton rear end on a somewhat homemade tractor in a fellow’s old car assortment. It had a 6-cylinder Buick engine and a transmission U-jointed to the clutch shaft of a Hamilton rear end. This fellow wanted to trade for old steam car parts that I did not have any hope of coming up with. He would not price it. I finally traded him three old license plates that I did not have much in but were probably worth more than I want to know.