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Serving: WI

1946 Ford 2N is coveted family heirloom

Harlen Persinger Steve Gehring from Rubicon with his model Ford 2N utility tractor
CHERISHED TRACTOR: Steve Gehring from Rubicon, Wis., says he prefers this Ford 2N utility tractor because when he was growing up, it provided a sense of freedom while working long days on the farm.
My Favorite Tractor: The Gehring family has owned this tractor for 75 years.

Since leaving the factory 75 years ago, a 1946 Ford 2N utility tractor still resides in Rubicon in Dodge County, Wis. The machine was purchased new for $1,120 off the showroom floor at Mayville Implement by Andrew Gehring, who farmed 110 acres near Rubicon. It replaced a team of horses and worked alongside an older Allis-Chalmers, which had steel wheels and was primarily used for plowing. In 1947, that tractor was replaced by an LA Case.

As agriculture’s role with Ford expanded after World War II, Gehring also bought much-needed accessories. These included a two-bottom Ford Dearborn plow, two-row Ford cultivator, 5-foot grade blade, rear dump box to haul rocks, three-point rear-mounted buck saw, rear pulley, front bumper, umbrella and tire chains.

The 2N, introduced in 1942, was manufactured in Dearborn, Mich., and was basically a 9N stripped-down version because of the war effort. After the war ended in 1945, the 2N was manufactured with rubber tires and electrical accessories such as lights, battery and a starter. It came in dark gray.

Other features included manual steering, rear PTO, wide front end, differential mechanical drum brakes, open operator station, toolbox, 10-gallon fuel capacity, 13-inch ground clearance, 12 hp on the drawbar, actual weight of 3,070 pounds and a Ford 2-liter, 4-cylinder, liquid-cooled gasoline engine. There was also a pressurized radiator with a shroud and a Sherman transmission step-up overdrive. Outfitted with the Ferguson three-point hitch, this little machine was the 800-pound gorilla of the tractor industry.

“With 11 siblings, five of my brothers and two sisters learned their driving skills on the 2N,” recalls Steve Gehring, Andrew’s son. “When I was about 5, I remember taking it straight down into the field where everyone was picking rocks. A few years later, I managed to run over a skunk. Once back in the farmyard, I hid the tractor behind the shed and Dad immediately questioned why it was parked there.”

Other jobs the 2N handled were cultivating corn, light fieldwork, mowing and raking hay, hauling manure and utility chores.

“By 1993, after working approximately 12,000 hours, it only did some smaller utility chores,” Gehring says. “I had always been the primary caretaker, so I took possession of the 2N that year.”

Previously, Gehring had begun restoring other machines, which included three Ford 8Ns, so he decided to tackle the 2N. The engine had been completely overhauled and the body was repainted in 1965. Although the motor seemed fine, he cleaned off all the rust; replaced and repainted the rims; added new tubes, tires, and a radiator; and tweaked the electrical system. It took about 180 hours at a cost $2,000, not including labor.

“Since I’m a member of the Restored Antique Tractor Club [RATS], I drive the 2N to club activities and other various shows. It rides smooth, has excellent maneuverability and features a top speed of 19 mph in the country,” he adds. “This will always be my favorite tractor because when I was growing up, it provided a sense of freedom while working long days on the farm. For me, the Ford 2N truly mirrors the Gehrings’ rural heritage and is the family’s most cherished tractor.”

Persinger writes from Milwaukee, Wis. To have your favorite tractor featured, email or send in a photo of yourself with your tractor, along with a 300-word write-up about the tractor, to: [email protected] or Wisconsin Agriculturist, P.O. Box 236, Brandon, WI 53919.

TAGS: Tractors
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