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Ford 8N Repowered With A 460 Big Block Engine
Eric Del Ponte has bought, repaired and resold more than 100 tractors, but nothing compares to his recent repower of an 8N with a Ford 460 engine.
“A lot of people do 8N conversions with small block engines, but I thought I would give a big block conversion a whirl,” says Del Ponte.
A service manager at a local Kubota dealer, Del Ponte has built a profitable sideline business putting older tractors back to work. He advertises on Craigslist for old tractors that don’t run.
“I used to work on cars, but they require registration and licensing fees,” says Del Ponte. “Tractors don’t, plus I learned there is a little money to be made if you do them right, just fixing what is needed.”
The project required extensive measuring and mocking up components. Del Ponte stripped out the old engine, cooling system, gas tank and steering, extended the chassis and hood by 18 in., and built mounts for the 460.
“A machinist friend did the work on a 5/8-in. steel plate to match up the truck engine bell housing and clutch with the tractor transmission,” says Del Ponte. “I wanted to keep everything I could original from the 4-speed back.”
The larger engine, with its air cleaner and carburetor, required removing the gas tank. Del Ponte substituted an old 5-gal. metal gas can and mounted it behind the seat.
“I added an electric fuel pump and ran a fuel line from the gas can,” says Del Ponte, who even attached it with rusty barbwire.
He wanted the tractor to be a loud attention-getter at shows so he found a universal 460 exhaust kit in a hot rod catalog.
“I had to cut and weld the pipes to clear the steering,” he says. “I made a jig to hold them before tack welding them and then the final weld.”
A new cooling system was another big challenge. Del Ponte measured the available space and sent the numbers off, with a description of the engine and its new use, to a custom radiator shop in Oregon. Crossing his fingers, he waited and hoped he had measured right.
“It was the most expensive part of the entire conversion,” says Del Ponte. “When it arrived, it just barely fit.”
Del Ponte replaced the OEM dials with electric sensors and dials for engine temperature, oil pressure, voltage and rpm’s. “They are vintage looking, but are still the shiniest things on the tractor,” says Del Ponte.
Keeping the look of the tractor as he found it was important to Del Ponte. When he inserted an 18-in. section of hood from another 8N, he carefully finished it and the weld with the same patina as the rest of the hood.
Likewise, when he added hot rod style headlamps to the front end, they looked like they too sat in an old dairy barn for years. Both fit well with the original steering wheel and seat.
One very visible change to the tractor was the addition of extra-large rear tires. Del Ponte picked up a pair of combine tires and wheels. He cut out the wheel centers and replaced them with centers from the 8N wheels.
A final modification was to add a people carrier to the 3-pt. Del Ponte wanted to have a safe way to bring his sons with him on the tractor. The padded seats are even equipped with cup holders. A cooler mounted ahead of it keeps refreshments handy.
See more of his work on his Facebook and Instagram pages, Old Iron Garage.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Eric Del Ponte, 7166 Co. Rd. M, West Bend, Wis. 53090 (ph 262 894-3369; delponteeric@yahoo.com).

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2021 - Volume #45, Issue #4