By Sherry Schaefer, Editor of Heritage Iron Magazine
By the late 1960’s many manufacturers had hit the 100 HP mark. But even that was not enough to satisfy the hunger for power as farm sizes increased. Not wanting to be left behind, Ford took their largest production model at the time, made a few modifications and the 9000 was born.
While Deere & Company certainly has a long legacy of tractor production, we can’t discount Ford as a successful company. Ford built its first experimental automobile plow in 1907. This “tractor like” machine was built primarily from auto parts. From 1913-1917, Ford experimented even further with the design of a tractor.
In 1917, Henry Ford and Son went into full tractor production in Dearborn, Michigan, building tractors for export to England and Canada.
Beginning in 1912, Deere and Company authorized the design and development of an experimental tractor. However, this never came to fruition. In 1914, the company made another attempt to create a tractor, which was to be designed by Joseph Dain. In 1916 the Dain tractor was sent to Texas for testing. Dain had received approval to build 100 tractors for further testing but died suddenly in 1917. In 1918, Deere went down a different path when it purchased the Waterloo Gasoline Engine Company on March 14. This would add a much-needed tractor to their line. So technically, Deere didn’t have a tractor in production until 1918. Ford had already built thousands of tractors by then.
While there have been many mergers and buyouts during the Ford production, its Ford Blue remains visible in a much larger company today. Few companies have remained a constant for as many years as Ford.
The Ford 8000 was the giant in their lineup until September 1969 when the 9000 made its debut. While the two were very similar models, there were many minor changes made to the 9000 to assure it could withstand the increase in power. This model was rated at 131 horsepower.
The engine used in the 9000 was the same size as the one in the 8000 with the addition of a turbo. Extra horsepower meant larger wrist pins, different rods, different rings and oil-cooled pistons. Both models used the same fuel pump but the 9000’s pump was set for a higher rate of flow and used different injectors. A larger fan was added as well as an increased flow rate through the cooling system, consisting of a larger radiator. Oil cooler capacity was also increased in an effort to keep oil from overheating. A dual air filter was used to assure clean air since the tractor was breathing harder than the 8000.
One of the most obvious differences, which helps to distinguish the 9000 from a distance, is the grill. The grill on the 8000 and smaller models used vertical slots. However, the grill on the 9000 used horizontal slots.
When Ford was rolling its 4,000,000th tractor off the Highland Park, Michigan assembly line, the model 9000 was it. At the time, it was Ford’s largest model and obviously symbolic of the longevity of the company.
The 9000 production was somewhat short lived. Built from 1969-72, it was replaced by the 9600 for the 1973 model year. Only minor changes were made to that model since most of the bugs were already worked out of it. The rating was increased but by less than 5 horsepower.
If you’re looking for cheap horsepower in today’s market, don’t overlook the 9000 - Ford’s Blue giant.
Blue Line Farm
John & Jaimey Haas
Photo by Super T