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Big Straight-8 Powers Ford 8N
Charles Scudder has always liked 1951 Buick straight-8 and Ford 8N tractors, so it was logical for him to combine both favorites into one machine. He worked on his Buford Field Rod, as he calls it, from 2005 to 2013, and had help from a number of friends. His goal was to have it look as much as possible like a Ford factory product.
  “I had to have the engine rebuilt by a machine shop, but I did everything else,” says Scudder.
  Everything else included fabricating a bell housing to match the engine to the tractor drive train. With all components, Scudder made patterns first. Here’s how he made the bell housing.
  “I transferred the location of mounting bolts on the rear of the engine and the holes on the tractor’s drive housing to an aluminum pattern,” says Scudder. “Then I cut pieces of 1/2-in. plywood to match the 2 faces, and mounted them in place.”
  When he moved the pilot bearing of the engine driveshaft into the transmission, he left 1/8 in. for slop and measured the difference between the 2 wood plates. It came to 1 7/10 in. After covering the plates with 1/8-in. plywood, he had a complete pattern that he took to a friend with a plasma cutting table.
  “He cut pieces to match the pattern out of 1/2-in. steel, and I drilled holes to match the bolts and bolt holes on the aluminum pattern,” recalls Scudder. “The bell housing came out looking smooth, thanks to the plasma cutter. I just filed off the corners and installed it.”
  He fabricated a new gas tank and replaced the wiring harness. He also made alterations to the front axle. The pivot previously bolted directly to the Ford’s cast iron block. Scudder extended arms from the Buick engine motor mounts to accept the axle pivot. He also ran a couple of struts from the new bell housing to the motor mounts to further strengthen the connection.
  “I had to extend the radius arms and steering rods by 14 1/2 in.,” says Scudder. “I had seen some simply stretched, and they looked ugly. I wanted it to look stock.”
  He decided to replicate the 1939 8N front axle, which had tapered I-beam radius arms. Here, too, he made wood patterns to ensure fit and look before making the steel parts.
  The bigger engine required extending the hood. Scudder welded together parts from 2 hoods. What he couldn’t do was match up the tapered ridge that ran down the center.
  “I decided to cover it up with a replacement ridge,” says Scudder. “I bent a piece of metal that imitated the original taper and bolted and bonded it in place.”
  Scudder wanted to go with stock headers from 1941 and 1942 straight-8s. They had a compound manifold with 2 carburetors and split headers. The split headers and 2 Hollywood glass pack mufflers would give him the exhaust sound he wanted.
  “With stock manifolds, the carburetors would have stuck through the hoods,” says Scudder. “Instead, I modified the manifold to mount them alongside the hood.”
  With the engine in place, Scudder quickly discovered additional cooling was needed. Though the Ford radiator held 12 quarts and the Buick held 13 quarts, it was enough to cause overheating at idle. To compensate, he mounted a heater core in front of the radiator and hooked it into the heater in/out locations on the engine. He had already modified the radiator in/out locations and the fill location. With the additional volume from the heater core and hoses, the engine could run for 20 min. without overheating.
  “The 263-cu. in. engine is rated at 125 hp. at 3,600 rpm’s,” says Scudder. “With the 4.13-in. stroke, it produces plenty of low-end torque. You need a firm grip on the steering wheel when you open up the throttle, even in 4th gear, which is a road gear. I estimate top speed at 50 mph or better.”
  He gave the Buford Field Rod a fresh paint job. The Ford had been outfitted with turf tires that were ideal for the high-torque engine.
  “The turf tires slip,” says Scudder. “I was afraid that with that much traction, conventional ag tires would stress components too much.”
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Charles Scudder, 2929 95th Dr. E., Parrish, Fla. 34219 (ph 386 295-2205; murnane@bellsouth.net).


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2014 - Volume #38, Issue #5