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Subject: Moto-Tug Serial Numbers (BNO 40 XXXX)

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Paladin (Bob In PA)    Posted 12-19-2009 at 20:56:49 [URL] [DELETE]        [Reply] [Email]  
  • Moto-Tug Serial Numbers (BNO 40 XXXX)
  • I have been kicking some Moto-Tug questions around with a friend who retired from the USN as a Commander and who spent a lot of time on carriers. Now, remember that the Moto-Tugs were made up under USN contract. He made an educated guess that BNO = Bureau of Naval Ordnance.

    Is this as good a guess as any? I don't know of anything else in the Ford system of naming and numbering that would equate to BNO.

    He also put me in touch with a retired Navy Captain who was on active duty on carriers during the Korean war. This retired officer believes that the Ford Moto-Tugs were unable to handle the weight of the F-9 Crusader fighter jets that reached the fleet around 1954, thus they were replaced with more powerful tugs.

    Mike Gilman    Posted 08-22-2010 at 02:09:23 [URL] [DELETE]        [Reply] [Email]  
  • Re: Moto-Tug Serial Numbers (BNO 40 XXXX)
  • I have a BNO 40 S/N 796, it has been reconfigured as a skip-loader. It took me some time to figure out what the thing was. By shear chance I found out what is was. I was in the navy in the early 60's and seem to remember these things pulling small aircraft around North Island NAS and Miramar MCAS.

    Knowing the Navy there has to be records someplace, just finding them is the real chore.

    Mike Gilman    Posted 08-22-2010 at 02:14:39 [URL] [DELETE]        [Reply] [Email]  
  • Re: Moto-Tug Serial Numbers (BNO 40 XXXX)
  • My BNO 40 is actually a FORD 9N tractor with a steel plate body and reconfigured rear axle to accommodate dual rear (10.00X20) wheels (BNO 40) and hydraulic brakes. Otherwise the drive train is the same as my 9N tractor.

    Tim Daley(MI)    Posted 12-28-2009 at 17:48:43 [URL] [DELETE]        [Reply] [Email]  
  • Re: Moto-Tug Serial Numbers (BNO 40 XXXX)
  • Paladin-
    I took out a book from my local library on the Vought Corsair production, and many pictures showing planes have captions that state, for example, plane "BuNo 123456" so this would suggest each plane was serialized with the BuNo prefix. No where in the book does it state what the prefix signified. Did BuNo eventually becom BNO? You Navy guys chirp in here...

    Tim Daley(MI)

    Paladin (Bob In PA)    Posted 12-28-2009 at 22:14:47 [URL] [DELETE]        [Reply] [Email]  
  • Re: Moto-Tug Serial Numbers (BNO 40 XXXX)
  • Tim:

    Here's what I know. Although I was a ground pounder, I spent most of my Navy time stationed at an air base.

    The Air Force uses a slightly more complicated system to number their planes. It uses a prefix and suffix, although prefixes usually are not painted on the plane. For example (I have the USAF Museum handbook in front of me), a particular F-104 at the museum is 56-914 and a B-58A is 59-2458.

    The Navy uses a very simple syatem. Basically, every plane that they have ever owned is sequentially numbered. Now, it really isn't quite that simple as blocks of numbers are assigned when a contract to supply planes is signed. But, there are no duplicate numbers as in the USAF system. By definition, there cannot be.

    These numbers assigned by the Navy are called "Bureau Numbers" or BuNo. Going way back, the command responsible for aviation in the Navy was the "Bureau of Aeronautics". Nowadays it is called NavAir, or the Bureau of Naval Aviation.

    To prove my point, the USAF museum has a Navy UH-34J helo. It is BuNo 148963

    My best guess is the Ford found themselves dealing with some hidebound admirals who were scratching their heads trying to decide how to serialize these little tractors that they had been sent to purchase. Custody is very big in the military. They were all familiar with the Bureau Number (BuNo) system, so they suggested that Ford adopt it for the tractors. Somehow BuNo was shortened to BNO, maybe because there wasn't room for another letter on the block. Let's think - *9NXXXXXX* turns out to be 10 characters. BNO 40 XXXX - including the spaces turns out to be 11 characters.

    Did the Ford stamp set supplied to dealers even have a stamp for "U"? Maybe there wasn't any. In the event of a block replacement perhaps the overhaul facility was supposed to reserialize the new block. They couldn't do it if they didn't have the stamp!

    It's shame that the folks who could answer these questions are all passed on, leaving us to figure it out as best we can.


    James    Posted 08-18-2011 at 00:35:07 [URL] [DELETE]        [Reply] [Email]  
  • Re: Moto-Tug Serial Numbers (BNO 40 XXXX)
  • Hi Bob,
    Your information on the BNO 9N Ford tractors is really interesting and has helped. I own one of these tractors as well and am in the process of restoring it. What I am missing however are the fenders, side rails and front grill. The mounting metal is still intact and the rest of the tractor seems to be here. Obviously, after the war, someone who purchased this tractor, removed the avaition parts and made it more like a regular N9. Any thoughts would be appreciated.


    Paladin (Bob In PA)    Posted 12-21-2009 at 11:41:31 [URL] [DELETE]        [Reply] [Email]  
  • Yet another brainstorm . . .
  • There were both BNO 25's and BNO 40's. As far as I know, tne serial numbers ran from 1 to 3025 or 1 to 3050 or so (no one knows for sure). We do not know if the BNO 25's and the BNO 40's were assigned different serial number blocks. There are just so danged few of these tractors that survived, unfortunately.

    The "40" and the "25" referred to the weight of the tractor and it's ability to haul things. The "40"'s had duallies and lower gear ratios than the "25"'s

    With respect to Naval aircraft, JockOR is exactly right BUT, unlike the Army Air Force back then, the Navy did not include any prefixes to indicate the year the order was placed or the type of aircraft. An aircraft was simply BuNo XXXXX and that was that.

    I am also wondering if the "BNO" was not Ford's idea of how to follow the Navy BuNo system, only with tugs instead of aircraft. Of course, this would not answer the question of tugs that were sold for civilian use, and some were.

    Jim.UT    Posted 12-20-2009 at 20:27:05 [URL] [DELETE]        [Reply] [Email]  
  • Re: Moto-Tug Serial Numbers (BNO 40 XXXX)
  • That BNO explanation makes sense to me, providing there really is a "Bureau of Naval Ordnance"....or was in the 40's and 50's. By the time you're done, you'll be the one who will have to write the book on these machines. Take careful notes of the experts you're talking to so you can use them as references in your book.

    JockOR    Posted 12-21-2009 at 02:33:38 [URL] [DELETE]        [Reply] [Email]  
  • Re: Moto-Tug Serial Numbers (BNO 40 XXXX)
  • If the Navy system was the same as the Army, the serial number is associated with when the unit was ordered, and assigned in a block of numbers equaling the total number of units ordered, not when it was made. Usually, the numbers were assigned to a particular unit sequentially, and the most recent unit had the next highest serial number. In this case, the order was approved by the Navy in 1940, and the tugs could have been manufactured at any time after that approval. Thus, a tug made in 1941 or 1942 would still have a serial number of BNO 40 XXXX, but the XXXX number would be higher as time went on.

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