Thursday, September 26, 2013

Steering without a steering wheel

I thought this gif at cheezburger was interesting.  This is supposed to be a funny "fail," but the guy obviously--to me, anyway--had done this before and knew what he was doing.

When I was a kid, my dad needed farming equipment but--back then--had very little money with which to purchase such equipment.  So eventually he ended up finding a good deal on an ancient Ford 8N.  It looked quite similar to the one in the picture at the link, except a previous owner had installed a front-end loader on it, so it had a little extra weight in the front.

Later on, he found another good deal on a shredder, but the shredder was made for a much larger tractor than the 8N, and it was so heavy that it would lift the front end a little.  Not nearly as much as that tractor in the gif is lifted, though.  But it lifted the front end enough that the tires would just skim the ground and weren't as useful for steering as they should have been.

One of my chores on the farm was shredding the field, and I got pretty good at keeping it in a straight line using the brakes.  Because, for anyone who has never driven a tractor, the back wheels each have a separate brake.  These are usually used to make a tight turn at the end of a row when you need to head back in the other direction.  But because of that extremely heavy shredder, we had to use them to steer with.

Later on he bought another smaller shredder that was more suited to the 8N.  All of that old equipment is gone now, though.  Now he can afford two tractors, and he bought two because he got tired of hauling the one he had back and forth between the two properties where he needed tractors.  They both have front-end loaders because he likes to dig things with them.  One of them also has a back hoe.  Whenever it gets dry enough that his tank goes completely dry, he digs it back out again.  It's his hobby.

That 8N gave us lots of problems.  At one point, the starter gave out so we had to "hotwire" it with a bent piece of threaded rod.  Then when that didn't work anymore, we had to pull-start it every time we wanted to use it.  Several times we had to take the tractor to another property, which meant driving it about 2 miles down a dirt road, then 4 miles down the highway, then another mile down another dirt road.  It topped out at 8 mph.  During the winter, that was a cold drive.


  1. In Lytle, there is a dealer that has a bunch of used tractors for sale, several that look like the photo of the 8N. I can't really say I have the need for such equipment, but it sure would be cool to be able to mow my 3 acres in about 20 minutes!

  2. If all you want to do is mow, buying a real tractor would be going too far, I think. But if you ever want to turn a sizeable chunk of your 3 acres into a great big garden, a small tractor would probably be very useful.