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Here’s A Terrific Trio Of Repowered 8N Fords
For the past 40 years, Mike Schwanke and his father Virgil have worked side-by-side on tractor and truck restorations and in the family’s tractor and truck parts business. Mike says he’s probably restored and repowered more than 150 farm tractors, many that reside in the Schwanke’s own museum in Willmar, Minn.
    Mike recently completed work on a good-looking trio of 8N Fords. “I really took a liking to the small Fords after buying a repowering kit,” he says. “Removing the stock 4-banger and replacing it with a flathead Ford V-8 turned the junker that we found abandoned in a farmer’s grove into a museum and parade-ready specimen.” The near-perfect tractor now has twin stainless steel exhaust pipes and a triple-coated enamel paint job.
    “That first one really gave me the bug,” Mike says. “I used a 110 hp V-8 from a 1951 Mercury. The motor fit right in place with the kit components, and it uses the original transmission, gauges and steering.”
    Schwanke’s next 8N project was more ambitious. He installed a 120 hp 1948 Lincoln Zephyr V-12 motor in an 8N body.
He used custom-made components, built a frame from 1 by 4-in. steel, machined a new bell housing, and installed a 5-core radiator. He also fabricated a new hood that’s 10 1/2 in. longer than the original. “I used the front from one hood and the back from another one, then rolled and formed an extension in the middle,” Mike said. The result is a seamless sheet of gray that looks factory-original. The finished conversion has 4 gleaming stainless exhaust pipes, an authentic console, and original gauges. The three-coat enamel paint job and new rubber all around make this conversion a proud partner to the V-8.
    Schwanke’s next project was repowering another 8N with a smaller 60 hp Vedette, a French-made 1959 Ford V-8. Rather than buying a kit, he fabricated a frame, bell housing and steering arms himself. It turns over twice and springs to life, purring like a kitten compared to the throaty V-8 and V-12. All three of his 8N gems have 12-volt electrical systems.
    Schwanke doesn’t plan to stop at three conversions either. On the docket is a pile of parts and a motor-less 8N waiting for an overhead cam V-6. “It’s just a matter of finding the time to get at it,” Schwanke says.
     His spare time is at a premium because the family’s tractor and truck repair business has been going non-stop. “We just about get caught up and Dad will come in with something to rebuild or restore for the museum, so it’s a never-ending process,” Schwanke says.
    It’s obvious he enjoys practicing the skills he started learning at age 10, nearly 40 years ago. When most kids were playing ball and watching cartoons, Mike was fixing Kirby vacuums and learning how to rebuild magnetos. He doesn’t intend to abandon the trade anytime soon.
    Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Mike Schwanke, Schwanke Tractor and Truck, Inc., 3310 1st St. S., Willmar, Minn. 56201 (ph 320 235-4341; stt@en-tel.net).

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2014 - Volume #38, Issue #5