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Plusmodel 1:35 Tractor Fordson N-big


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1:35 Tractor Fordson N-big

Plusmodel
Catalogue #448
Available from Plusmodel for 70,20€

 

 

 

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Tractors are, with a single doubt, not my candy shop… I totally out of my league here but I was very please when the postman bring me the latest release from Plusmodel, the Fordson N-big.

 

Anyone that may have a little bit of interess in WWII Aircraft, already saw at least one photo with this little tractor, even if you didn`t notice that.

 

For this review I made or try to made a little bit of home work and after researching a bit, I found a really nice article called “The Tractor that won the war” that focus the essentials about the history and the major role on backstage of the war.

So let me share it:

The tractor that won the war

 

With the closure of the Ford plant in Southampton, I was thinking about the influence Ford has had on modern vehicles, and especially tractors. They produced a number of iconic and influential brands, but the Fordson Model N became widespread and familiar to many in the interwar period and during the Second World War.

A Fordson Model N has pneumatic tyres, and the narrow mudguads suggest a fairly late manufacturing date, around the Second World War. The large crawler behind it is a Caterpillar D8 22A, which is in running order.

This Fordson is most likely from the Second World war period, indicated by its narrow mudguards. Tractors like this were a common sigt throughout the coutnryside carrying out tasks vital to the war effort.

Fordson Model N

By the time Ford began producing the Fordson Model N the company had already established itself as a manufacturer of cheap and popular farm tractors. Ford began to displace other American companies, such as John Deere and International Harvester, as market leaders for UK tractor imports during the Great War, when the head for British Ford, Percival Perry, offered a prototype design of tractor to the Ministry of Munitions (MoM) for consideration. The MoM took this design on, and undertook to buy these tractors at cost plus $50 dollars per unit. Initially 5,000 units were ordered, but this was increased to 6,000, and the order was completed in April 1918. These early Fordson (Ford was prevented from using the Ford brand on tractor by an a tractor manufacturer who had already claimed the Ford tractor name, although his design didn’t prove successful) tractors had a Hercules engine (manufactured by Hercules Motor Corp., Canton, Ohio) the had  six-spoke rear wheels and ladder radiator sides. This MoM tractor, as it came to be known, was eventually replaced by the Model F tractor. This was a very similar vehicle, but, from 1920, possessed a Ford engine which was still of the same basic pattern with four cylinders and rated at 1000rpm. The gearbox gave three forward speeds and one reverse and the total weight was of around 3000 pounds.

The Fordson tractor became the most popular tractor in the UK, and was produced in Cork in Ireland.

From 1928 the Cork plant produced the new Fordson Model N, until production was switched to Dagenham in 1933. In 1929 the Cork production facility was the largest tractor factory in the world at this time.

The Fordson Model N ‘Standard’

Very similar to the Model F, the new tractor featured a conventional magneto in place of the Model T type coils and an increased bore engine with a maximum of 30hp when the new high compression head was specified. The engine was also available in either petrol or petrol-paraffin versions, while a heavier and redesigned front axle added more weight.

The major differences visually were the cast front wheels instead of the spoked variety used previously as well as the use of full length rear mudguards fitted as standard (first offered on the Model F in its latter days of production). These long mudguards were intended to help reduce one of the Fordsons’ main disadvantages; in certain circumstances the tractor would rear up on its back wheels (from my own experience this wasn’t confined to Fordsons, I have seen our old McCormick International rear up when working or carrying weight on the rear). Unfortunately some drivers had been seriously injured or even killed when the tractor’s implement hit an obstruction in the soil sometimes causing the vehicle to tip backwards onto the operator himself. The long mudguards helped to prevent this to some degree and also provided space for two toolboxes.

The new English built Model N looked a bit different to its Irish forebears. the long mudguards and  the grey colour scheme were replaced. The colour scheme was replaced with dark blue models and orange models. The Fordson name was now cast into the radiator side panels and a new ribbed pattern cast into the radiator tank with the toolbox mounted on the dash. The tractor was available in two versions; the standard agricultural model with steel wheels, or the more versatile Land Utility model complete with pneumatic tyres.

In 1935 lights and electric starter were available as options as was a rear power take off shaft. Two different gear ratios were also later made available, the standard box being referred to as the green spot version whilst a new low gear ratio option was introduced known as the red spot version. One of the main features of these tractors was the water-bath air cleaner which consisted of a header tank behind the engine block with an air intake mounted through the hollow steering wheel. An industrial type came with pneumatic tyres, electric lighting and horn and was used in a number of non-agricultural roles.

In 1930 the Roadless Traction Company, which was based in Hounslow, Middlesex, built its first crawler conversion of a Fordson. These were originally a full track configuration with the tracks themselves made with special rubber-jointed track plates.

1937 saw the introduction of the new orange paint, known as Harvest Gold, was introduced, and an oil bath air cleaner replaced the old water-washer version.

The old Fordson engine, still basically similar to the original, was now pushed to higher compression with an engine speed increase to 1200rpm, to give more power from the unit. This did cause some engine problems particularly with oil consumption and bearing failure, but the Fordson was still generally reliable. The orange tractors were still available either on steel wheels, as the Land Utility version on pneumatics, row-crop tricycle model or in industrial form (similar to the All-Around, which was a tricycle version with vee-twin front wheels and adjustable sliding rear axle, which had been aimed at the North American Market).

Fordson was by this time the best-selling tractor in Britain, selling far better than any of the other manufacturers which were generally the more sophisticated American machines.
However the Model N was beginning to get a reputation as a temperamental machine, difficult to start, especially when hot, and difficult to get into gear when cold (synchromesh gear boxes weren’t available for tractors for many years to come). This reputation was not helped by the changes made to its engine which made the orange tractor very prone to oiling its spark plugs when running; experienced operators would habitually keep a spare set warming on the cylinder head.

The outbreak of World War II resulted in a change to green paintwork (apparently to try to make the rows of tractors at Dagenham look a bit less conspicuous to overflying enemy aircraft, certainly there was a major project to disguise manufacturing production, my Grandparents often told me about the trompe l’oeil images of terraced houses painted onto the rooves of factories in Birmingham).

This version of the Standard Fordson became the only tractor produced in large numbers during the Second World War. The change to green was accompanied by a few alterations to the tractor itself and the difficulties associated with the engine problems on the orange tractors were addressed with changes to the head and pistons.

The tractor that won the war

With the threat of food shortages  in mind and the war looming, the British Government and the Ford Motor Company came to a deal, whereby the government to stockpile 3000 Fordson tractors in readiness for the effects of the coming conflict. According to some sources the stockpiled tractors were all painted an all-over yellow colour to help identify these particular machines. When the war did arrive in August 1939 the 3000 Fordsons were joined by thousands more green Fordson N tractors produced at the Dagenham plant, at a rate of up to one hundred a day, throughout the war (the 100,000th Dagenham built tractor came off the production line on 10th November 1943)

The Second World war, with it’s shortage of raw materials, and change in the composition of the work force, lead to a few changes, for example, the rear mudguards were made narrower, in an effort to save steel supplies. The hexagonal holes in the radiator casing were designed the spark plug to be held firmly, while the operator split it using the specialised Fordson spanner, allowing cleaning of the spark plug core. The Model N remained the same throughout the war years, although various different experiments were carried out with regards to engine types and different transmissions, many of which were used by the military as aircraft tugs and for general haulage duties, often with specially built modifications.

The need to produce war materials halted most other vehicle manufacture, making the Fordson the only tractor available in any quantity. The Fordson N was essentially a very simple tractor and was a very reliable machine overall and it became the tractor most often encountered by the hard-working women of the Land Army. The websitehttp://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ww2peopleswar/stories/74/a2054774.shtml features the story of one of these Land Girls, Mary Henson. She mentions using a Fordson, and some of the maintenance tasks she had to carry out.

These Fordsons played a vital role in the efforts to combat the food shortages, as land was made to work harder, produce more, and more and more fallow and was pressed into service. With so many people involved in the war effort, the mechanisation of agriculture was necessary to allow the physical tasks to b completed. Tractors like the Fordson Model N allowed a Land army worker, or lone farmer to keep the and working, despite the lack of labour available.

The Model N was produced until 1945 and by the end of the Second World War thousands of Fordsons were working in the fields of Britain and had been converted for a range of uses in agriculture and industry.

The RAF used many of the Roadless crawlers (first produced in 1930) but preferred a half-track version to the original full-track version, as it was found that fitting a front axle to the crawlers (thus making them into half-track machines) made them more stable when hauling heavy loads. These were seen on the runways of the many grass airfields that were scattered all over the countryside during the war. Model N Industrial versions were also used by the RAF for aircraft tug duties, sometimes these were fitted with Brockhouse torque converter transmissions.

A number conversions used the Model N Fordson as a base unit including road rollers, dump trucks and drainage machines. The tractor was often fitted with an extra slow reduction gearbox to help cope with the slow speeds necessary for such work.

There were even some Fordson N conversions to diesel power and fitted with Perkins four cylinder diesel engines. Initially the diesel engine was slow to be accepted, but with improvements in the technology and they became more powerful farmers gradually came to see what benefits they had to offer in terms of reliability and fuel economy. This option was never offered as a factory standard. The Model N was replaced by a new Fordson tractor in 1945.

Engine
The Fordson Model N engine, lacked a pressure lubrication system and relied solely on “splash” caused partly by dippers on the big ends collecting oil from troughs in the sump and partly by the motion of the tractor. When the tractor was stationary and engaged on “Belt work” the sump needed to be kept up to the correct level. When running the engine on vaporizing oil it was most important to drain the sump every 50 hours and refill it to the correct level with S.A.E 30 oil.
The Fordson tractor is a gauze screen, which is accessible when the plate is removed from the base of the sump. It acts as more of a sludge trap than a filter. The engine is designed with a “dam” which when the oil is circulated retains the oil passing it through this filter. If the oil becomes to thick the filter will become clogged and the oil will spill back over the dam and into the sump unfiltered
Cooling System
The engine was cooled by the circulation of water in the jackets round the cylinders. The heated water flowed by thermo-syphonic action, assisted by a pump at the front of the cylinder head to the radiator, and as it flowed downwards through the radiator tubes, it was cooled by the stream of air induced by the fan placed behind the radiator.
On later models a radiator calorimeter, or temperature indicator, was fitted to the cast radiator top and enabled the operator to see at a glance if the cooling water was at the correct temperature.
The water had to be cleaned daily or even more often if working hard. On cast water jacket systems holding a lot of water, it was be impracticable for cost reasons to use anti-freeze, as ell as this often being unavailable during the war period (see Mary Hensons story).
Steering Box.
On Model “F” and “N” tractor with the large water filled air cleaners the steering was lubricated partly by grease nipples and partly by sump “Fumes”. On the later (1937-1952 )oil filled air cleaner models the steering box was oil filled. The level needed to be checked every day-drain and refilled every 200 hours. Water filled cleaners had to have the level checked twice daily and be drained and flushed weekly.
Rear Transmission
The Fordson Gearbox and rear axle was a common chamber, the recommended lubricant was E.P 140 viscosity oil. According to West, the old thick oil really caused heavy gear drag, which helped tremendously to free the clutch on cold mornings. He reports that the old 140 oil was so thick that when repairing the tractor in winter he’d heard of farmers having to put a 5 gallon drum on the top of the primus stove 2 hours before it was needed to be poured into the tractor. The oil level had to be checked often, and changed frequently.

(Resource: https://agriculturaltrainee.wordpress.com/2012/10/25/the-tractor-that-won-the-war/)

 

Now back to the model kit, the box is a sturdy little box, quite resistant, with top flip opening.

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Cracking the box, lots of resin, a small decal sheet and an even smaller PE sheet.

You got more than 40 resin parts, in a light grey color, with some cleaning to do. These flashes are quite easy to remove even with the hands. So it would not be a problem.

 

The removing form the resin blocks would be a tedious task not because how many they are but fragile and quite small.

 

The first thing that crosses my mind is that is a little tractor indeed, even with the Big on the name.

 

Looking for the parts, the delicacy of many parts, this resin kit is not even for intermediate modellers.

There`re lots of parts, and only two that I may consider part of the main body, each just turn the build a lot more challenging.

The wheels are very well cast with all the tread detail, specially the rear ones.

 

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The rear ones bring the rim in other piece. The fitting of this two are crucial and testing in dry fit they really fit wheel in each other.

 

The front wheels are in a single piece but these ones looks different for the one that are in the instructions picture. In the instructions, on the front page, there`s a pic with a Fordson N-Big and the front wheels do have some side tread, which there none on the model kit.

 

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Also the front rims looks bit different for the instruction pics. Not really an issue even because I believe that they are probably both true.

 

I just the pic on the web

 

 

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(http://www.fordsontractorpages.nl/phpbb3/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=6509&sid=e4101be9669ac3fd5a63c9612938366f)

 

 

where you can see a Fordson N-Big droven by a women. Notice the front wheels. Exactly, no side tread and that are much alike the model ones! PERFECT! J

            

The main body one this model, in fact doesn’t exist. You got the man pieces: the fuel tank and water tank model in a single piece (a very well cast one, with no bubbles or distortion, but with a little more cleaning  to do by flash removing and some seams mould lines.

 

 

 

 

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This one will connect to the radiator (cast also in a single piece, with sharp details mainly the “fordson” very small letters on the side) and to a lower piece.

 

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This piece is the casted with the cylinder block, crank-shaft, clutch and goes all the way to the rear wheels latitude two other essential pieces: the differential and worm diver gear.

All the engine compartment is fantastic detailed and nothing was left unthinking, so Plusmodel gives the modeler everything.

 

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The fan is not forgotten and barely seen and the fan pulling starting crack is made of a very thin resin piece.

All other details are very well cast and care and time should be taken to remove these small and fragile parts from the resin blocks.

 

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On the top of the tractor, the very particular primary air that looks like a chimney, and is also in a solid resin part, well design and spot on.

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The driver compartment that is quite detail devoid, has all the details it needs. The seat is quite well molded, have a full steer wheel and all handles in fragile resin but with sharp detail.

 

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The small PE sheet 24 parts in brass giving very small details like nuts, little handles and engine fan.

 

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The little decal sheet has a good colour definition and ink pigmentation.

 

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This gives the modeler three option:

-      RAF 31234, Overall Dark Green

-      Medium Grey with yellow radiator cover with RAF inscription both side (box art)

-      Overall Dark Green with RAF inscription and white stencils on both sides of the tank.

 

 

The instructions are in the traditional Plusmodel type, being two A4 sheets, folded in half, making a small booklet of 8 pages, with drawings of the several construction stage.

 

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You can see the Plusmodel did have the care to try their best to indicate the parts locations and connections between them, being easy to follow.

 

 

 

Conclusion:

This model is made by very small details on the engine and all support structure… basic that`s is the all model, because besides that and the wheels you only got the fuel tank, radiator and drive seat.

 The details of the casting are flawless and could find any resin distortion or bubbles, so quality control in Plusmodel is working at full speed.

The subject is quite original and when full built, while small, it will caught attention at your local model show.

 

This would be a fantastic addition to any tractor fan or just if you want something different on your collection but I also see this one with some trailer bombs right at the side of…. HK Lancaster in 1:32. This one is in 1:35 but the different is totally bearable for me… No issue for that…  So my Fordson already have his destination full marked.

 

Highly recommended

 

Francisco Guedes

 

Our thanks to Plusmodel for the review samples and all the support given. To purchase this directly, click THIS link.

 

 

 

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