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Vintage Ford Power Train I.D.

Hello all,

I'm not sure where to post this. I horse traded for a unique tractor recently. But, as most of the running gear on it is vintage car/truck, I figured this forum was the logical place to start. Here's the story as I've pieced it together so far:

FrankenTractor - A Piece of NE Ohio/NW Pennsylvania History
8/6/13
This tractor is unique. _It's not what I would refer to as a "Doodlebug". _Generally speaking, Doodlebugs were tractors made from cars. _Likewise, I think it an err to call it a homebuilt, because more than one of this specific design were built. _There were apparently a dozen or so planned, two completed and one being built when the originator, whose dream this was, suddenly died. This happened in the mid-50's.
I acquired FrankenTractor in mid-July of 2013 from a friend. _He had gotten it from another local (residing in Windsor, Ohio) in the mid-90's. _My friend said that this other local fellow had gotten it from the original owner (either directly or from his estate or at an auction) about 1970. _I had my eye on this tractor for at least 3 years. _It was unique and it was local NE Ohio or NW Pennsylvania history…and I'm a sucker for both. Construction details follow. _None of this is cast in concrete yet, as I'm still discovering something new nearly every day.
Two main "C" channel frame rails extend the length of FrankenTractor. Along it's length, there are a couple cross-members. _Additional support is provided by the engine's bell housing and rear axle.
The engine is a four cylinder from a Ford model A. _Coupled to the engine through a clutch is a three speed, Ford model A transmission. _The output from this is fed to a Ford four speed truck transmission mounted backwards. _A Ford heavy duty truck rear axle is coupled to the output of the four speed. The entire length of the drivetrain is enclosed.
The rear rims were from a Minneapolis-Moline tractor. _My friend, Don, tells me that he converted them to a set gotten from a Massey Ferguson 50 when the original ones rotted away. _They're currently 36", but Don remembers them as possibly 40" or 44" in diameter. _I've been talking with some M-M experts in the area to determine the original size. _The front rims and spindles are from a late 30's, early 40's Ford truck.
The steering column is from a Ford truck. _It's positioned horizontally just under the hood sheet metal and above the model A fuel tank and turned 90 degrees so that the output shaft runs vertically, forward of the radiator, down to the front spindle (of unknown origin). _The radiator is of Ford model A origin.
The brakes are operated independently or in unison with a single pivoting pedal. _There are two throttles...the one on the right side of the steering column sets the desired base RPM. _When more power is needed, the operator depresses the spring returned foot throttle to the right of the brake pedal. _When it's released, the speed returns to the base setting. _This is, in effect, a human controlled, foot operated governor system...necessary because the engine has none.
Originally, FrankenTractor had a 6 volt system with a generator. _Don converted it to a 12 volt alternator years ago. _There were two headlights and one worklight. _The engine is electric start with no provision for a hand crank.
The rear fenders are from a Ford 8N. _All other sheet metal was designed and crafted specifically for FrankenTractor.
The hitch looks very similar to those found on early Farmalls, though I'm fairly certain that it was manufactured by the originator of FrankenTractor.
As I discover more about this machine, I'll add it to this story. _If the reader has any information about this wonderful piece of history (when was the (Ford?) rear axle made...what vehicle was the 4 speed taken from...etc), please contact Tim Ponn at Grand Valley Tractor_(440)437-5572).
I really want to to document this as much as possible. My intent to is to restore it, find the originator's name, and give the man his due. Please help with whatever you can.

Thanks!
 

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vern0n

Registered
Last Subscription Date
08/27/2013
Are you sure the 4 speed is in backwards? That would make it a four speed overdrive. I'd have to go look at the 4 speed I have, but it looks like it is forward. Neat tractor!
 
To be honest, i'm not sure myself...I've just been told by my friend, Don, that it's backwards. A big part of what I'm trying to accomplish is to positively ID each component, then learn more about the details of that component. I'm very well versed in tractors (pretty much have to be, if yer gonna sell new parts for these old tractors!), but know pathetically little about vintage cars and trucks! I'm told that FrankenTractor has a 40 mph road gear...and a heck of a creeper gear.
 

vern0n

Registered
Last Subscription Date
08/27/2013
I would say if it only reaches 40 mh, the second transmission is not backwards. When you turn a transmission around you end up with overdrive gears. When you put one transmission behind another, (both trans forward), you end up with super low gears. I'd have to go to my barn to make sure what you have is a Ford 4 speed. The bosses on the right side are where the parking brake lever would have mounted, (it is on the right side for a forward facing transmission). Ford came out with that rear axle for the AA trucks in 1929. I'm not sure what year they converted to cable brakes.
 

vern0n

Registered
Last Subscription Date
08/27/2013
Your transmission appears to have come from a model AA truck. The later ones have a partial bell housing cast on for the flathead V8. Not sure what the later 4 cylinder trucks used.
 

John Hamilton

Subscriber
Last Subscription Date
05/25/2019
Sears made up a tractor that used the A or AA engine and some more parts. What are the words on the side of the hood toward the rear?
 
John,

It just says "Special". I was told that the hood ornament and the "Special" came off a Buick. The trim under the word "Special" could have come from who knows where.

I think this is significantly larger than the Sears tractors I've seen.
 

FWurth

One Millionth Post
Last Subscription Date
07/29/2019
The Ford Motor Co did build a prototype row crop tractor in the 30s and did use it on the Ford farm as a test unit. It was built up from stock truck parts, they never went further with it as they were working a deal with Mr. Harry Ferguson soon after that. It may have run into some patent issues as well. It was part of the large collection at Dearborn for many years, was later sold off on one of the surplus auctions in the 80s? A collector now has it. This could have been the inspiration for these units as they are very similar. Also the Thieman tractor was built up using Model A parts but it wasn't nearly this refined. F.J.W.
 

BHoward

Registered
Last Subscription Date
05/04/2018
I built a doodlebug one using a 4 speed truck transmition behind the model A transmition installed frontwards . It would do about 40 mph with both sticks in high. It also had a large truck rear end . With both sticks in low it was supper slow. Winched a car out of 70 feet of water on a frozen lake with drum welded to one back wheel.
 

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Heins

Subscriber
Last Subscription Date
01/02/2020
I would think the transmission would have to be in forward, I would like to see what the front and back of the transmission looks like. It looks like it has mechanical brakes, I would like to see what they did on the outer ends of the rear axle with the wheel off.
 

Glenn Heim

Registered
Has anything new learned about who manufactured this tractor? Has any progress been made on getting the tractor running or restored?
 

John Hamilton

Subscriber
Last Subscription Date
05/25/2019
Front wheels are the 1939 Ford car wheels. The first hydraulics.

---------- Post added at 01:48:17 PM ---------- Previous post was at 01:21:35 PM ----------

Front wheels are the 1939 Ford car wheels. The first hydraulics.
 
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