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 12-04-2003, 11:31 Post: 70280
shortmagnum

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 THE original compact utility tractor

It is obvious in reading the postings on this website that the compact utility tractor is near and dear to our hearts. Much thought, design, and engineering went into each and every one of them. However, the machines we use today were not developed overnight. Almost every part has evolved over the years. I’ve been thinking about this for some time now and I would like to voice my nomination for what might be called “the original compact utility tractor.” My choice would be the Ford-Ferguson N-series.

I could mention the handy size, the low center of gravity, and the maneuverability. I could mention the 28 horsepower engine size, that it had a cartridge oil filter and distributor/coil ignition. I could mention that it was the first to brag a quiet muffler or that it had a unitized frame made up by the engine, transmission and rear-end rather than a separate frame. I could tell you that more units were sold than all other manufacturers combined.

No, I won’t bring those things up, I won’t use those things to qualify my nomination. I will simply draw on the Ferguson system 3 PT as my basis for this tractor’s importance. The 3PT made the jump from pulling everything (as in horse drawn) to creating an integral tractor/implement unit. In my opinion, there has been no one development that is more useful in the way we use our tractors today. And the N-series tractor was the first production unit with the 3pt system.

As a side note, three months before he died in 1960, Ferguson revealed plans to build a new tractor with a torque converter automatic transmission and 4WD. It’s starting to sound pretty familiar.

I suppose this post will really rile up the Ford haters out there (see the “tractor projects” section of the general board) but maybe that was the idea in the first place…






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 12-04-2003, 16:39 Post: 70293
AC5ZO

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 THE original compact utility tractor

I think that the thread that you are referring to is almost three years old. I follow that up by saying that I personally have a NH tractor which is the successor to the Ford line.

I don't know that I exactly agree that the Ford was the grand-daddy of CUTs but it certainly had its uses. On the farm where I grew up, we had one Ford 8N. It was a good tractor for some hay work and was good for running around the farm with a load of feed or things in a small cart. I don't recall using any 3PT implements on the 8N however.

Our John Deere tractors had various proprietary lift systems for cultivators and other implements. Other tractors had various lift schemes, but none of them were interchangable. With the advent and general standardization of the 3PH, farmers had a wider choice of tools that could be mixed and matched. Entrepreneurs that wanted to build implements had a standard interfaces to use.

I think that the Ford 8N was a good tractor. I actually thought about those when I was in the market for tractors a couple of years ago, but even though they got a lot of things right with that tractor, the new diesel compacts are head and shoulders above the old guys. My tractor isn't all that much bigger than one of the old 8Ns, but it has 45 diesel HP, which means a LOT more torque. It has a FEL that will carry a ton. Put all of that torque and capacity together with a 12 speed synchro gearbox, and there are a lot of differences.

Like most items that we use today, the technology has developed over a number of years. Technological Darwinism would give you a notion that most of the good ideas will survive and thrive. I don't miss some of the old 2PT and other proprietary hitch systems; they were just not as convenient and the market saw to their demise. But, at the same time, even the Ford tractors had the benefit of many years of trial and error for different systems that worked. AC, MF, and others made tractors that were smaller in size with easy access and high maneuverability.






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 12-04-2003, 17:10 Post: 70294
Peters

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 THE original compact utility tractor

I have seen only a few N's with 3pts. The value of the 3pt was not really utilized until Ferguson combined to create the company that bares his name to day MF.
I am enclined to think that the utility end of things really belongs to the small Farmall os the same era. They are still being used for crop row farming all over with their many attachments. They were certainly the first to belly mow, cultivate, PTO work, tillage etc. I have seen them at work in NJ, KY and here in AL/MS. Most N's have long been replaced on the farm for utility.






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 12-04-2003, 19:40 Post: 70300
DRankin



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 THE original compact utility tractor

I always had the notion that most of what we have today, especially in the under 2000 pound class, is an outgrowth of the 'rice paddy' tractors manufactured in Japan and Korea a generation ago.






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 12-04-2003, 22:47 Post: 70310
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 THE original compact utility tractor

Mark the paddy tractors do not have the 3pt that we use or the attachments and their basic design was concieved along before Kubota and the others even made tractors. Even the 4 wheel system is not an Japanese invention. Althought the first was the Fitch in 1916 the basic layout was completed long before Kubota or other Japanese manufactures started production. For example Willys sold a Jeep with a PTO and 3pt option shortly after the war. Not much different than a bota with frame.






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 12-05-2003, 06:15 Post: 70322
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 THE original compact utility tractor

I agree with Peters. I think the small farmalls like the Cub, 100 and A are more closely related to the modern CUT. I have two cubs and also an NAA the cubs are extremly versitile, more so than the ford. I recognize the importance of the N series, but the mondern tractor is one machine that can be used with what seems like an endless number of implements. ( like the cub) Also there are a huge # of cubs still in use today for belly mowing, sickle mowing,cutivating,planting ect.. I think most Ns are either retired or used occationally and have been replaced by more versitile machines. Before I get slammed for the last statement I said most not all.






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 12-05-2003, 08:59 Post: 70340
AC5ZO

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 THE original compact utility tractor

I should have mentioned the Farmall Cub as well. We had one of those also, and it got much more use than the Ford 8N because it had a MMM on it. It would be difficult to put any definition other than CUT on the Cub.

Along the lines of what Mark was saying, I do think that the American manufacturers seemed to split their lines into smaller lawn tractors and larger agricultural tractors for a number of years and had a very limited or non-existent offering in the CUT range. That void was indeed filled by the Japanese tractors. The concepts surrounding the CUT were not new, but anytime that manufacturers avoid a market segment, they open themselves to new competition. By the time the CUT ball got rolling, the US mfrs ended up playing catch-up or making alliances with the Japanese CUT manufacturers like Yanmar and the others. Kubota has done a good job in maintaining its independence and holding its market position as a top manufacturer.






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 12-05-2003, 09:12 Post: 70342
Chief



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 THE original compact utility tractor

Another line you might consider was the old Cub Lo Boy series tractors. They can with a 3 pt. hitch, pto, MMM, FEL were available for them, and they had a bullet proof 15 hp 4 cylinder gas engine. Not alot of power but they sure ran forever. VERY simple and in some ways crude by todays standards but got the job done. Mine was about 40 years old when I sold it and it still had the original engine and tires on it. Still ran like a champ.






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 12-05-2003, 09:28 Post: 70343
shortmagnum

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 THE original compact utility tractor

I keep thinking that if I had to get rid of all but one attaching mechanism (front FEL, mid, and rear 3pt) that I could do the most with the 3pt. I can still finish or rough mow, dig, level, skid trees and many other things. About the only thing that I can't do is lift anything over a few feet high which is why I now have an FEL.






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 12-05-2003, 09:39 Post: 70345
AC5ZO

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 THE original compact utility tractor

Magnum, you have a good point about the 3PH, but I really believe that it was an industry standard. This all happened a long time ago, but I think that Massey Ferguson was really the driver of the 3PH as we know it today. I could very well be wrong on this, but that is my recollection.

What we see are evolutionary changes in the designs and markets. On my old farm tractors, all the FELs only had single acting cylinders and gravity trip buckets. I would not want a loader without dual action cylinders and hydraulic bucket tilt, today. The older loaders were useful, but they have added utility with todays models. Fortunately, the manufacturers have recognized that the current crop of CUTs are profitable for them and I expect that they will continue to have useful features and refinements added as the market matures.






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