18 December 2008

the reliable Ford

Its a good question whether or not the Detroit automakers should be extricated from the deep hole they dug for themselves over the last few years. Ford, in particular, relying almost exclusively on its F-series gas-gobbling pickup trucks for profit, refused to diversify or even look to see if there might be 'writing on the wall.'

When Henry Ford still breathed, he breathed innovation into his company. Ford sold their first tractor in 1917, a tractor as revolutionary as his automobile. It was small and affordable, just like his cars, and was greatly successful (Stalin's farms could not have produced without them). When Henry died in 1947, his son Henry II took over the business and soon introduced a new model, the 8N, built in Dearborn from 1947-1952. It was soon succeeded (due to patent infringement litigation with Ford's old partner, Ferguson, and now its major competitor) by the 600 series, made 1954-1957. This tractor, dear reader, was the vehicle I learned to drive on...

Lest you think I am on a paint-fume induced ramble- we own a slightly more modern version of the 600, a three-cylinder diesel 1710, made 1983-1986. It is just about the same size as my childhood's venerable 600 (barely more than one ton in weight) and even about the same horsepower (25 real horsepower). One tremendous advantage- it has four wheel drive. But it wasn't made by Ford, it was made by Shibaura, a Japanese firm. Ford was already delegating their tractor manufacture. Will it ever become a classic? Not likely.

We have a bush hog for mowing, a constant warm weather task here, and a blade (in the photo) for pushing snow and grading the very long driveway. You cannot have a farm without a tractor (unless you are skilled enough to be a teamster and have a place for the horses). This is ours. Eat your heart out, Tom!

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