Restoration of a Welsh Fergie
by
Aled Williams

 

Celtic Influence

 Hearing a conversation about the famous lawsuits involving Ferguson and Ford, I heard somebody say ‘That Harry Ferguson is one heck of a man!’. Indeed he was. His story is well documented and Colin Fraser wrote an interesting book about his life. I must note that Harry was a single-minded Celt who had a reason for everything he designed. He was a man of vision and believed that given the correct tools – his System – that farmers could play a key role in reviving the British economy after the effects of WW2.  

Some of the Fergie’s merits

The TE20 with its revolutionary hydraulic system and 3-point linkage was welcomed in Wales and especially in Llyn due to its versatility and suitability for small hill farms. Small farms were more numerous on Llyn in The Fergie’s heyday.

A sweet experience

As a lad, I spent many a happy hour admiring the features of my friend Trefor’s TEA 20 at Treddafydd: The ‘S’ starting position for the gear lever – no need to hand-crank! Then there was the magic hydraulics and linkages for a myriad of implements. The PTO and the independent brakes were interesting – and the cheerful smile on the bonnet that always raised one’s spirit. It was winning me over from the Standard Fordson! 

The incentive

So why renovate a heap of rust dating back 50 years? The reasons have already been mentioned.

 

·        Respect for a Celtic Innovator

·        Nostalgia

·        Saving a piece of history

·        Mechanical interest

 

Pirsig refers in his book ‘Zen and the art of Motorcycle Maintenance’ to the classical and romantic aspects of life. It is certainly the romantic drive that leads one to undertake this kind of project (a bit like a marriage, perhaps?) but the classical side kicks in when tackling the work and applying techniques (and parting with money!).

The Original Intention

In a quiet corner of Llyn, a Grey Fergie had been standing idle in a pool of oil in the corner of my brother-in-law, Peredur’s barn and he needed its space. At the same time, my friend Arwel was seeking a small tractor for light duties on his land. So there was another incentive to help two people by getting this machine in working order. The sad load was delivered to Gelli in September 2003. I was always aware that Arwel needed the tractor’s service for the 2004 Summer season and that gave me 9 months. In fact – I got the engine started in July 2004, but there was more to do.

The Name

During the restoration period, my long-suffering wife decided that our tractor must be feminine due to the amount of time I spent in ’her’ company. ‘And how’s Tegwen today?’ she’d mock.

The Scant History

There were no papers or Registration Document available for Tegwen. A partial number was stuck to her bonnet (made out of a 30mph sign- the mind boggles) bearing HUN *8*.  

Despite the number, the tractor started working at Maentwrog in the Old County of ‘Meirioneth’. Then it moved closer to Llyn where it worked the land in the district of Eifionnydd. When it finally came to Llyn, it was said that the engine was ‘ in quite good nick’. The tractor number is TEF 487503 and is powered by a 4-cylinder Standard engine dated 22-11-55. The tractor was assembled on the 27th December 1955. I registered it with the DVLA who issued an age-related number as no records could be found.

General

The Rear Axle assembly and hydraulics had been donated to Tegwen from a non-diesel tractor. Corrosion had seized almost everything – except the engine and driving train. By the end of the project, several bucketfuls of ferrous oxide had been discarded. At the start – wire-wheeling was the main activity. I consumed 7 high-quality radial wire wheels and one angle grinder.

The tractor had apparently turned over at one stage – with no injury, I hope. The manifold U-section casting was broken, the steering wheel was bent and the bonnet featured some deep dents.

The original intention was to use as many original parts as possible – but a balance between restoration quality / time spent against the new price of essential items had to be considered. It is so easy to pour money buying everything new – and some do this. Fortunately, good local second-hand components can still be found that just need TLC. I was staggered how many new contacts and friends I made during this time and the friendliness of the ‘tractor fraternity’.

I am of the opinion that a tractor, however old, should have some work to do and for that reason must be dependable whilst not shy of sporting a blemish or two as proof of its service to mankind. 

So with Winter approaching, I stripped everything except the engine and gearbox and worked on them in the comfort of my workshop. Working most evenings and often at weekends, Spring had arrived by the time all the components was ready and painted. The advice from people like Holland-Brand was invaluable and fortunately a friend of mine lent me his original TE20 workshop manual.

The engine – the first stab

The engine could be turned by handle and a reasonable compression on all cylinders was evident. I felt that an attempt should be made to start it up, in the first instance, for assessment before committing to major work. Having removed the manifold, no. 3 inlet port was caked with carbon. ‘Valve stems’ I thought and cleared it and put the thought out of my mind. So a new ‘U’- piece and exhaust was procured. The oils were changed with new filters. Very little trace of metal was evident in the sump. A new thermostat was fitted with all new hoses and timing chain with new front oil-seal and gaskets. The tappets were set according to the handbook.

 

This is a list of associated items that were tackled before starting the engine:-

Item                           Work done

Throttle linkages                    Fabricated new bits with 30% second-hand

 Fuel Pipes                              60% new pipes/fittings with new Aux. Tank tap.

Wire Looms                            All fabricated and new.

Voltage regulator                   Initially second-hand, then new

Ammeter                                 Acquired a good white-faced original from Siôn Williams of Bodedern.

Starter Motor                         Renovated – new bushes & brushes.

Fitted a heavy second-hand Armoured Cable from the battery. A heavy-duty starter cable and fittings are essential for a TEF 20 due to the relatively long run and heavy load.

Solenoid                                   A new one was fitted with ballast resistor/relay.

Pilot Switch                             The original was refurbished, but was not reliable enough, so a new one was bought. The Safety button on the side of the gearbox was released to enable the complete starting mechanism to work.

Dynamo                                   The back plate was completely corroded. A friend gave me a spare plate and the unit was rebuilt with new brushes.

Radiator                                  This had damaged brazing and matrix. It took 3 weeks to restore . A labour of love!

Main Diesel Tank            A pepper-pot – repaired using a Tinker’s technique together with an amazingly effective sealant called ‘Slosh’. A long process.

Auxiliary Diesel Tank           Same story

Lift pump                               The original one did its job but leaked oil from the crankcase, so fitted a new one.

Filter housings                       Made end-plates for these out of Darvic on the lathe

Half-compression            Fabricated bits and acquired second-hand items. It was difficult to obtain detailed information on the design of this.

Ki-gass                                   Restored the pretty little hand-pump that squirts diesel onto a heater element in the manifold to aid cold starting. The heater switch was restored. The original heater was good.

 

                                                These last two items were initially useful, but they are not needed when the engine & battery are in good order.

Starting Day

‘Starting Day’ came in July 2004. After over-using the ‘Ki-gass’ and a few panics, Tegwen coughed and the engine of Sir Black of the Standard Motor Company became alive again amidst a lot of noise, smell and smoke. Indeed, the four cylinders seemed to function with a regular beat that was music to my ears. The oil pressure was reasonable indicating reasonable bearings. Having ascertained the operation of the clutch, we made a few excursions round the yard. But when the engine warmed up properly – the heartache began!

Not only was blue smoke in abundance, fumes from the breather indicated crankcase pressure with suspect valve guides, bores & rings. The message from the carbon in the inlet port returned to haunt my mind. The oil pressure was reasonable, but as the engine attained working temperature, it developed a loud rhythmical banging noise and only 3 cylinders were firing. A bad case of diesel knock was implying an injector that was not spraying but letting liquid fuel into the cylinder causing massive increase in compression.

A strange day that was – elation after firing the engine and then dismay at its state. I immediately vowed to make this a ‘perfect’ engine and bought everything new for it with the exception of the casing and rocker arms!

            Time was pressing, so I commissioned a local expert for the re-build as he had special tools to deal with the liners etc.  Besides, the crankshaft (which had original-sized bearings) needed grinding to -0.010” and the cylinder head needed a complete overhaul.

The engine – the second stab!

So lighter of pocket but with revived enthusiasm, I re-joined the engine with the transmission. This time, a friend came to my aid – a Dutchman called Theo Kamink. Theo is a diesel expert and is sympathetic towards older machines. So we tackled the injector pump and injectors as follows:-

Item                            Work done

‘Injector pump’            New diaphragm fitted and filter cleaned. We built a test rig based on a lathe to set the phasing correctly and to calibrate the delivery.

‘Injectors’                                The rig also served to check the operation of the injectors’ pitons in providing a fine spray at the correct angle. Theo had completely serviced them beforehand and had fitted the essentially new copper washers.

Having placed the pump in its position, Theo fitted a hypodermic needle on to No.1 delivery pipe. With the flywheel set at its correct position with a bar through the casing hole, he could turn the pump so that the diesel delivery stopped at the top of the stoke indicating (with great accuracy) the correct ‘spill timing’ position of the pump which was marked with a scribe before nipping up its mounting screws.

"Five minutes’ time working with a man like Theo is worth a term in college."

Mutually understanding mechanical matters was not a problem for us but language issues set in as the excitement grew. And excitement there was when the ‘new engine’ roared into life with a blip of the starter. No more smoke or fumes and there was a heavenly sound. The oil pressure was perfect. As a perfectionist, Theo made a new bush for the rear of the pump in order to have a well-controlled tick-over speed with no ‘hunting’.

Tegwen enjoys an easy life and has only just run-in after almost 2 years.

The gearbox

This was in a remarkably good condition but a better second-hand gear lever was fitted. A new clutch plate and front oil-seal was fitted. BUT one mystery hung over the gearbox:

Someone had cut a rectangular hole in the side casing behind the clutch housing - perhaps in order to fit the (missing) return spring or to access the clutch adjustors. As a result of this, the bottom of the casing was full of grit. The hole was subsequently filled, of course.

The steering box

This had too much play but was easily adjusted. New oil seals could be put in without removing the drop-arms by grinding the protruding bit of metal at the bend.

The hydraulic system

Restoring this was a great pleasure and to discover some of Harry Ferguson’s hidden secrets. Everything external to the box had to be freed including the control spring, its rod, the operating lever and linkages.

The pump sat in grey sludge and the ‘T’-piece of the oscillating control valve had snapped off and found its way into the differential housing. The pump was duly serviced with new gaskets and the system was seen to hold its pressure well enough without spending big money.

Rear Axle

This was generally in good shape with effective oil seals. One lower link drag bolt had to be replaced as it had worn loose so hat it was leaking oil. That explained Peredur’s pool in the barn.

Front axle

This was in a very bad state and a remarkably healthy second-hand specimen was obtained from Siôn Williams of Bodedern.

The Brakes

There was a fair amount of work required here to get them right. The original (slightly longer) diesel tractor rods were in place and had to be corrected. New shoes were obtained. The system used the ‘floating cam’ arrangement.

Tinwork

The bonnet dents were sorted and wire-wheeling did most of the initial work on everything including the wheels. The wings were patched but later received new skins. The seat required some welding.

Paint

The parts restored during the Winter months had all received a zinc-rich undercoat and several coats of grey acrylic. So it was a pleasurable time when the compressor came out for spraying the complete tractor body in the same way, starting at the back, prior to fitting the parts on. This is when people say ‘Wow!’

 

Aled and Tegwen

Holland-Brand have researched and identified the true shade of grey for the Fergie and I bought several tins – with a picture of the tractor on them. This was after I had already sprayed Tegwen with a darker grey sold by another company. She’ll attain the correct shade this summer!

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Aled has a webpage full of brilliant step by step photographs of the restoration of Tegwen, Link below.

View Tegwen y Ffyrgi Lwyd

Many thanks to Aled for sharing his restoration program with us.

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