A fascination with Ford tractors

LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) – During a trip to a farm between Maywood and Hayes Center, we met a man who has a wide variety of Ford tractors in his collection.

Paul Orman says he has about 70 Ford tractors, and we asked him about some of the highlights. “A serious collector, if he has a tractor that he is proud of, a lot of times he’ll want a consecutive serial number,” Orman said. “About 1999, I bought this tractor here at an auction in North Platte. About ten years later, I bought another tractor from a man in Hershey. As I was working with it, I found it had a serial number just ahead of the one I bought in North Platte. So, I was able to get two tractors with consecutive serial numbers, without even trying. It just happened.”

Orman says his collection generally covers between the years of 1939 to 1959. “1948 was another change year for the Ford tractor,” Orman said. “Ford called the model then the 8N tractor, because it was using the last digit of 1948. The Ford tractor previously was just a battleship gray. It didn’t look very attractive. So part of the 1948 was to talk about re-coloring the tractor. That was the first time they started coloring them red and gray.” Orman also has a rare tractor with an aluminum hood. “In the first month of its production they did not have the ability yet in the factory to stamp the sheet metal parts in steel,” Orman said. “One of the engineers said his brother-in-law could cast it in aluminum. So they think only about 300 or 350 are still surviving. Fortunately, I was able to buy one.”

There are many other highlights in Orman’s collection. “In 1953, Ford Motor Company reached 50 years of production,” Orman said. “They wanted to do some redesign of the tractor in that year. So they called this the ‘jubilee year’. It says 1903 to 1953 on it.” Orman says Ford engineers also tried to compete with other brands by building their own version of a row crop tractor. “In 1955, it was another change year,” Orman said. “Ford had never built a row crop tractor, and nothing high enough where you could go in and cultivate taller corn. So, they elevated the axle on the tractor, and the front is also higher. It also features a narrow front, which Ford had never built before. They called it the 900 of that year. So in that year, you could by a row crop tractor, but you could buy the regular standard tractor, which was the 800 series. These two tractors are important to me. If I could only keep 20 tractors, these would be in my collection, because they are very low ‘hour’ tractors. And, they are very authentic, in that they have all the right parts on them.”

Orman also has some tractors that feature different types of fuel options. “I have a 1958, and it’s significant because it has most of the options that Ford made available at that time, and it runs on diesel,” Orman said. “On down the line, I have a factory propane tractor of that same year, 1958, and a gasoline tractor. These tractors show the three fuels that were available at that time.”

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