Ford 8N
Dear Ole Mechanic;

I was moving my round bale feeder so my critters could powder the dirt in a new place. I was using my old 8N Ford to move it, and when I got it where I wanted it, I stepped on the clutch and nothing! It just kept right on going! Fortunately, I got the key off before I hit anything expensive. After I got unhooked from the feeder, I got some tools and adjusted on the clutch linkage until I was out of adjustment. At that point, the clutch would just barely release, and if I let the pedal up any at all, it would engage and away it would go. Now I do have an IT service manual for the old Ford and know that to work on the clutch. I must split the tractor in half and separate the front half from the rear half to get to the clutch. What happened? Please don’t tell me that I need to split that old tractor.

Thinking of Trading It In.

Dear Thinking;

OK, I won’t tell you that you need to split the tractor. Fortunately, you have figured that out all by yourself.

What happened? There are about five different places where something could go wrong and cause the clutch to fail. The first two are pins that go through the clutch shaft. The first goes through the pedal linkage and the shaft to lock the two together. The second locks the throwout-bearing fork to the shaft. I doubt that either of the pins are causing the problem, as once they shear off, there would not be any way that you could get the clutch to disengage at all. The same logic would indicate that the throwout-bearing fork is not broken. If it were, there would be nothing to disengage the clutch.

That leaves a problem with either the throwout bearing itself or the pressure-plate release fingers. My bet is on the throwout bearing because if the release fingers start to fail, there is no stopping the failure part-way, allowing an adjustment to cause the clutch to release. On the other hand, if the throwout bearing were to shuck or spit out its ball bearings, it would cause about a quarter of an inch of internal free play before the steel backing plate would contact the fingers, making it possible to release the clutch. Without ball bearings, it will be steel grinding on steel, and it won’t last long. That quarter-inch of internal free play would equal about ten inches of pedal movement or about all of the adjustment. Yep, you had already figured out that to work on the clutch, the tractor would need to be split.

The last time I split an 8N tractor, I had some roof trusses to support the steering wheel. I put a hydraulic bottle jack under the oil pan and a rolling floor jack under the transmission. In less than four hours and three German soda-waters later, I had the clutch out and in my hand. Now for the other problem--nobody in a 25-mile radius of town had any of the parts that I needed, and only a couple of places offered to order the parts. About a three to five day wait. With the additional capabilities of the newer small tractors like live hydraulics and live PTO, and which usually come with front end loaders, it just might be trading time.

 All it takes is $$$$.

Herr Professor Nuzanbolts