When he retired from trucking in 1995, Bill Critchlow, Melita, Manitoba, became a tractor collector - in a big way.
He bought up old Fords and Fergusons and began restoring them. His collection of restored tractors grew to about 40.
After doing that many "straight" restorations, Critchlow branched out into the unusual. His first non-standard restoration involved putting a truck engine into a Ford 8N.
Then he hit on the idea of pairing up two restored 8N's to make a double tractor. "It wasn't that difficult," he insists.
After first restoring the two 1948 tractors, Critchlow removed the front ends and built a new longer front axle by cutting the ends from the existing axles and attaching them to the ends of an axle from a third tractor. He put supports under the two engines, positioned about a foot apart, and added a center pivot point for the new axle halfway between them. To merge the rear ends, he cut both axles and axle housings in the same place (but on opposite sides) so he left both differentials and transmissions intact. He then welded the remaining axles and housings from each tractor together. He rebuilt the steering so both steering wheels work. And he connected the rear brake cables to the brake pedals on both tractors so one person can drive them both.
This gave him two 8N's sitting side by side on a single set of front and rear axles. "There are two of nearly everything - two seats, two steering wheels, two transmissions, two clutches, two clutch pedals, and two throttles," he says. Of course, with the engines there are also two batteries, two generators and two starters. And at the back, there are two PTO's and two 3-point hitches.
"I've been driving it in parades and showing it to people," he says. "I usually just run one engine at a time. I can sit on one side, start the engine on the other tractor, get up and move to that side and then shut down the other one without people even noticing," he says.
He intends to make one change in the twin tractors. "It would help if I could disengage both clutches with just one pedal, so this winter I'll be modifying the hook-ups and rods so I can do that. Then it will be easier to engage both transmissions at the same time," he says.
To take advantage of the two 3-point hitches, Critchlow built a double plow by mounting two old 14 in. two bottom plows side by side. "The one on the right mounts normally, but I had to extend the length of the hitch on the left one so it would cover the furrow from the right one," he says. "With both engines running and both transmissions engaged, it has plenty of power to pull both plows."
Critchlow's double 8N measures 7 ft. 9 in. wide, so he can still haul it on an 8-ft. wide trailer and be road legal.
He says he's had a lot of comments and questions from people on how and why he did it. "I'd seen another double that someone had made and I just wanted to see if I could do it with the Fords," he says.
This wonderful machine will be on display at Tullamore Show on Sunday 11th August.