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
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
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!
So why renovate a heap of rust dating back 50
years? The reasons have already been mentioned.
Respect for a Celtic Innovator
Saving a piece of history
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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’.
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.
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
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
This is a list of associated items
that were tackled before starting the engine:-
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
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
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
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
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
These last two items
were initially useful, but they are not needed when the engine & battery
are in good order.
‘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
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.
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:-
‘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.
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.
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.
This was in a very bad state and a
remarkably healthy second-hand specimen was obtained from Siôn Williams of
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.
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.
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!