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Farmall BN, in Grandpa's honor.


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Well, here's my first post anywhere on the forum. It's funny, usually when I join a forum, it's months of me lurking, and then a few more months of me asking small random questions every two or three weeks before I get up the nerve to start a thread even remotely close to this, but here we go anyway..

I suppose I should start by introducing myself and my tractor a little bit. Hi folks, I'm Charlie, a 23 year old factory worker in southern Michigan. My tractor (well, ok, I guess it'll always be my Grandpa's tractor, and I'll just be the steward) is a Farmall BN.. Unfortunately, I can't tell you much more about the tractor, or it's actual history before it came to the family, since someone replaced the seat/seat bracket, and in doing so completely removed the data plate. However.. (Please note, it's been a few years since I've heard these stories, and they were all short stories that I've pieced together into a longer story, so I'll more than likely get a thing or two wrong.)

My Grandpa's first ever tractor was a Farmall BN, though not this one. (Well, it COULD be this one, for all I know, and it just found its way back.) At the time in the late 40's, he'd just started working a few hundred acres for Mr. Randall, who owned (or was at least part owner) of Randall Beans, a local bean cannery that's actually still going strong today. My grandfather and one of his friends took turns running that tractor, and they used it- and the pneumatic lift-all system -so much that after a year, they had to overhaul the head! Grandpa laughed and told me that at the time, they couldn't figure out how it had worn out so quick..

Well, things change and somewhere on down the line, the tractor and all the attachments that went with it- except for the one bottom, steel-wheel plow -were sold off. The plow was shoved into the barn at "the other place", a second farmstead up the road that my grandpa owned, and was pretty much forgotten about. In the early 2000's, we came across this BN alongside the road, and I guess his nostalgia won out, because some money changed hands and it came home with us. It wasn't a pretty tractor, not by a longshot. (Somewhere in a pile of old family photos are pictures of it and me that day.) and it wasn't terribly well taken care of.. Or so you'd think. The generator was missing, and the starter didn't like to work reliably, so we had to pull start it if we wanted to use it. As you can guess, it didn't get used hardly at all, and in fact for the last 8-ish years, it's held it's same spot in the barn, quietly sitting, waiting..

Until now.

Unfortunatley, it's not under ideal circumstances that I'm attempting to restore this tractor. Ideal circumstances would be working in a well lit, clean shop, with plenty of time, warm temperatures, and my grandpa still around to go to if I have questions about how he would like something or how he would have done something.. I don't have any of that. My grandpa, John, passed away at the age of 88 in September. I was lucky enough to be able to say goodbye, but he was still my best friend in the world, and it's shaken me up pretty badly, though I try not to let it get to me. About a month ago, I asked permission to restore one of his tractors. I was originally going to ask to restore the H, as I have a lot more memories of that tractor, and he and I drove it quite a bit on the farm, but I realized it would be kinda selfish, since all the other grandkids have the same memories. So instead, I chose the BN, as I'm the only grandchild that shared any memories of it at all with grandpa.

I immediately ran out to the barn and started looking at what I had to work with, and figuring out what I should do.. My original plan was to get it starting and charging reliably, paint it, and call it a done deal.. But I quickly decided I couldn't do that and take the cheap way out. I decided instead to do something closer to the opposite end of the spectrum.

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Charlie Welcome to the forum. 

 It is good that you have a tractor that did belong to your Grandpa. It has a history with your family and that will make it even more special when you finish your project. 

A Farmall BN is a great tractor to have as a first tractor project. Make sure you take lots of photos ,it will help with how things go back together and also shows progress as you work on it. You will also have a history of what you have done. 

The serial number is normally stamped on the engine above the magneto / distributor. Farmall A and B / BN from serial number 501 - 201000 should have matching serial numbers (so you may be able to find out when your tractor was built ,it will also help if you need to get parts) . Farmall BN  from serial number 39715 to 48350 have the prefix  FAA and suffix X-7. After 48350 tractors have FABN prefix.

The housings on your tractor also have date codes (casting dates) on them so they may also be helpful working out what year your tractor is.

Below is a casting code on my 1947 Mccormick Deering W4 , 1-21-Q  is 21 JAN 1947.

Phone photos 031_zpsmoqvqjqb.jpg

This is the serial number on my 1941 Farmall A just above the magneto and below number 1 spark plug.

021_zpsgmtn1bw7.jpg

Marty ,NZ

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New guy: thanks! Yeah, pictures will be up soon, just as soon as my iPhone wants to cooperate, and as soon as I'm awake enough to do a more in-depth post.. I'm supposed to be sleeping now, but.. Ehh, I'll live.

 

Martin: Thank you!!! I hadn't seen or heard that about the serial numbers being on the block anywhere.. Of course, I didn't check as thoroughly as I should have in my research; I was still hoping I'd find the old data plate riveted on somewhere else after the seat repair. (Spoiler alert!!!) I'll check the block when it gets back from the machine shop.

I just wanted to post a quick message of thanks to the both of you before I attempt to go back to sleep whilst counting red tractors.. So again, thank you and thank you for the warm welcome!

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Welcome to the forum. Those memories are pretty special so it's cool that you will be able to restore those memories for those that come after you. I have my Great Grandfather's tractor so I understand some of where you are coming from. Please keep us posted on your progress. 

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Sledgehammer: Thank you! Yeah, I've got some memories with the tractor, for sure.. Not nearly as many memories as I do with the H, or the 786 which is sadly no longer around the farm, but the memories are still special no matter what.. I remember we used it once or twice to haul straw wagons, and a few times to run a grain auger or the elevator.. Of course, with the damaged ring gear it had to be pull started, so I'd be on the BN, with grandpa on the H, and we'd get her going..

Anyway, my first update which will- hopefully -get me up to date, and I can come back later tonight on my computer and post some pictures. The first thing I did was check all the fluids, since I knew I couldn't start it without a pull. The oil and coolant, though used, were good, and didn't show any red flags, other than a small amount of gunk I could see in the top of the radiator. I looked in the fuel tank, and thankfully, no fuel. I think grandpa knew it would be in storage a little while, so I'm lucky there. I also noticed a few gaskets and seals in the rear end were leaking ever so slightly.

At this point, I climbed up and sat in the seat, and tried to figure out what I was going to do.. I could fix the known issues, (leaks, no generator, and ring gear messed up), throw a coat of paint on it, and hope for the best.. If it weren't a tractor I have sentimental attachment to, that option would have seemed much more tempting, but as I sat there, I seemed to hear grandpa's voice.. "Charlie, if you really want to do something, take your time and do it right." I decided then that I would rebuild the engine, convert it to a 12 volt system, fix all the leaks in the rear end, replace the brakes, give it a good coat of paint, and put brand new rubber on it all the way around. I know with the 12 volt system that it won't be "fresh off the showroom floor" like a lot of people strive to do, but I look at it as, "well, the seat's been changed already, so it's not like the tractor is truly original.. Plus, a 12 volt conversion is something grandpa always talked about wanting to do anyway."

so, I started pulling off parts. Oddly enough, the grille was the first thing to come off; the bolt holes have rusted out, so the only thing holding it in place was the radiator fill neck/cap.. It was followed shortly by the exhaust, the crankcase breather filter (the one on top of the valve cover, just in case I've gotten the name wrong), the air cleaner topper (whatever you call it), and finally the hood. At this point, I started to let all the engine fluids drain and I grabbed a can of WD-40 and sprayed every bolt I could find, not working on it much the rest of the workweek except to spray it religiously with WD whenever I'd get home from work. That Saturday, though, I got quite a bit off. After I shuffled things around in the barn and drug it outside with the baby Deere loader tractor, I gave it a bath with engine degreaser and the garden hose, and then put it back in its bay.. The air cleaner, carbeurator, manifold, oil pan, radiator, and one or two things I'm forgetting to mention all took up spots on the floor, awaiting cleaning/repair/repainted/replacement. By that time, I felt I'd reached a good stopping point until the next weekend, when one of my friends could come over and help me wrestle the engine out.

when he came over, we finished taking the valve cover off (I'd loosened the bolts already, but hadn't removed it to keep things as clean as they could be.) took the ignition system and everything off, took the head off, and supported the tractor with (mainly) a big floor jack, and also my cherry picker and engine leveller as a backup while we took the front wheel assembly off, detaching the steering from the column itself, up by the wheel. With that off, we then worked to get the engine unbolted, since it was already hooked to the engine leveller. Once the engine was unbolted and free, I took the clutch and the flywheel off, then popped it on my engine stand, and began disassembly so I could send it all to the machine shop.

And now, a week and a half later, the engine and all its parts and pieces are at the machine shop, and I'm sitting here, typing this while hoping I don't forget anything or make too many typos.. :lol:

 

Again, I want to say thank you for welcoming me so warmly! It's nice to see so many awesome people in the same place!

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Thanks new guy! (What should I call you? I'm gonna feel bad calling you "new guy" all the time in threads, unless that's what you want to be called. :))

The first picture here will be with most everything still attached.. I admit, the first thing I did, on advice of my other grandfather (Grandpa Wayne, for the sake of clarity) and my Uncle Heath, was to drop the pan and check the bearings.. At the time, I was still thinking I might do an in-frame overhaul kit and replace the rod bearings, but leave the mains alone.. It was after pulling a cap off and finding out that things were (even slightly) out of spec that I decided to go full blown and actually have everything machined. I knew it would be more work- and money -and that was something grandpa'd always tried to teach me; don't spend the money if you think you can get by. Well.. apparently I heed that advice in fits and bursts.

Another picture, somewhat more towards the front.. The chain on the rear axle, for anyone wondering, was to tug the tractor outside for a quick bath with the garden hose before I started the tear down work.. It sadly didn't do a lot, but, it did enough to help, and i guess that's all I can ask out of a cheap can of degreaser and a garden hose. This picture actually reminded me that I ought to find a local radiator shop and take the radiator to them to be cleaned/flushed/whatever-else-might-need-to-be-done..

The carb, manifold, air cleaner, valve cover.. All those things are off. It's funny, normally, when I know I have to take the manifold off something, I'll spray it with WD-40, or PB Blaster, or even Aerokroil religiously for two or three weeks, and yet I always break a bolt, or a stud, or round a nut.. That didn't happen here. I just sprayed it every night after work for 5 days, and it acted as if it was factory new, coming off easy as pie.. Oh, if only they were all like that, eh?

And.. The engine is out! that was a big achievement, for me. I should say, I've rebuilt two H's before, but it's been about 4 years, and there are subtle differences with a BN.. Just enough to confuse me for a bit, which is good, I suppose. At least I haven't broken anything yet. Though, I've not had much experience with replacing/adjusting a clutch, so that will be fun when the time comes.

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I have seen that the crankshaft journals usually wear egg shaped. These wet sleeve engines are easier than the dry ones IMO

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Thank you, Sledgehammer and bitty.. In a slightly more recent update, to actually get my thread up-to-date, I dropped by the machine-shop today and dropped off some cash.. Should be enough for him to start ordering parts and get around to doing what all we've decided to do, which includes grinding the main and rod journals on the crank, ordering main and rod bearings, replacing some camshaft bearing or bushing or something (I remember it just can't remember the name), ordering and replacing the piston pin bushings, ordering and replacing the crank front oil seal, machining the head and replacing the valve seats with hardened valve seats for non-leaded gas, and ordering a valve kit which includes new valves, new guides (and installing the guides), new springs, retainers, keepers, etc.. And ordering and replacing the flywheel ring gear, plus resurfacing the flywheel. And a few other odds and ends I forgot to mention. I've already got my new pistons and sleeves, and will be replacing the sleeves myself, since that's something I'm familiar with..

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12 hours ago, new guy said:

When i first signed up i didnt know what i was doing and ended up with New Guy as a handle. Dont know how to change it now...oh well. Call me what ever you like...been called worse i am sure

Lmao. Fair enough.. I kinda like the name, actually. Just so long as you don't mind! :P

Well, it's not much progress, but it's progress, and that's what I'm trying to do, is to keep moving forward. I bought a parts washer yesterday- a cheap little 3.5 gallon one from the local farm store, along with some purple power. I plan to use that to clean up some of the misc. parts I have laying around. I also got one of the "complete carburetor cleaner kits", you know, the thing that's basically a bunch of solvent in a one gallon paint can with a little metal basket.. The carb has been disassembled into the top and bottom halves, and then put into the cleaner to soak for quite awhile. I'll pull it out and clean it with a toothbrush, or maybe my dremel tool (I'm leaning more towards the toothbrush, though) at some point, then put it back in the cleaner until I've got a kit in hand and I'm ready to rebuild it. It's a zenith, so I'm happy about that.. I just need to figure out how in-depth I need to go for the rebuild kit. If you see anything that looks weird, please speak up, lol. Oh, and I took the float off before I took the pictures, just in case you were wondering.

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74EC3BD1-373C-4008-AB29-19EC87711A4D_zps

9C5BE1E3-BC46-4909-80B0-C5694BD41CFC_zps

6FCF7579-86C4-452F-BC2E-03684371A7B7_zps

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Did you dismantle the carb before you soaked it?  If not do it over. Let it soak at least 24 hours, then clean all parts good with air and brake Kleen. Do a total rebuild. For the cost, do it right the first time. I always snap a picture of every part removed. Makes it easier to put back together if you have have to walk away from it for any length of time.

jerry

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Thanks Jerry! I haven't dismantled the carb any more than you can see in the pictures, but as I had family coming over, I figured spending 24 hours in the bucket before I disassembled it the rest of the way definitely wouldn't hurt.

I have to figure out what I'm going to do for paint, as well.. I would prefer to paint the engine parts while it's apart, and I could do everything except the block easily, but.. I have nowhere to paint other than in the basement of the house. Not a big deal, except the block isn't ever going to make it down there, unless it never ever comes up again. So I have to decide if I'm going to paint all the engine parts except the block while it's apart, and paint it again when it's back together (which will more than likely happen when the rear half of the tractor gets painted anyway), or what.. Grrrr, I hate winter, hahaha.

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I like to put things together and run, then dismantle and paint  It is a good to prime like new guy said.  I always paint the carbs black before installing.  Makes them stand out a little.

 

jerry

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Thanks new guy and Jerry,

I lamented about my decision to my boss, and he cut me a deal.. If I go up on the roof of his garage and run a log chain through the chimney for his wood stove, I can paint in his garage. :) it's always nice to have friends like that. Granted, I think he likes someone to hang out with and drink beer with, too.. Now, another quick question- it won't hurt to use rattle cans for the primer/first few coats of paint, do some wet sanding, and come back later for the final few coats with a spray gun as long as I stay with the same brand (probably CaseIH branded, unless I hear good things about the Rustoleum tractor and implement paint), will it? 

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Should be ok if it is scuffed good before you repaint. Maybe save your money and just do a quick coat of rattle can primer to hold off rust then reprime and paint when you are ready for the whole job. You will get better adhesion i think and every thing matches.

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That's a good point, I hadn't thought of that.. Thanks!

(this is both my blessing and my curse, by the way.. Whenever someone replies on a thread I've started, I feel it a duty to respond as soon as I happen to see it. So, I hope you all don't mind and can put up with me, lol..)

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I dont see a problem there.

The irritating thing is when someone has a problem and gets several replies of things to check. Original poster argues or doesn't listen to the knowledge and then never comes back to tell what the solution to the problem was. Give credit where credit is due.

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I like to paint all the little things and the areas that are hidden first. Then when you paint the rest of it there's not any bare spots to rust right away and make it look bad

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52 minutes ago, new guy said:

I dont see a problem there.

The irritating thing is when someone has a problem and gets several replies of things to check. Original poster argues or doesn't listen to the knowledge and then never comes back to tell what the solution to the problem was. Give credit where credit is due.

Ackk!!! I hate that too. At the very least, if they just came back and said, "hey, it was this" then dropped off the face of the earth, the next person who googles their tractor issues might have an idea of something to check.

44 minutes ago, bitty said:

I like to paint all the little things and the areas that are hidden first. Then when you paint the rest of it there's not any bare spots to rust right away and make it look bad

That was my thoughts.. I suppose I'll have to crunch some numbers and see what my paint will cost.. I've run across an IH corn picker, and against my better judgement, I think I may end up trading some clutter I've accumulated and having it follow me home in the near future to await it's turn in the shop, so at least I can in theory save on paint if I buy in bulk.. Maybe I should go with a cheaper brand of paint like Rustoleum, or the brand the local farm store sells- I don't remember the name -ah well, all things to google and do research on.

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