Thought about and built by Keith Atkinson – Story by friend and workmate Jim Hall.
Keith has been an avid repairer, fabricator, welder and restorer of countless agricultural tractors and machinery, not forgetting his involvement with old cars, especially Rover’s and Wolseley’s. Going back some 40 years he converted a Fordson N to diesel power using a early Perkins L4 engine, rescued from an MF780 combine. No mean feat considering the Fordson has an oil immersed clutch in the bell housing. Keith has also been involved in overhauling a David Brown 2D row crop tractor and converting the pneumatic lift system to hydraulic. When the David Brown parts become obsolete he converted several to Kubota engines. He also became the go to man for baler problems, especially Massey balers.
So it came as no surprise to me when he told me of his idea for an Electric Fergie.
His original idea of using a fork truck or milk float didn’t work out. After talking to different and helpful people he decided to use a second-hand airport tug, the ones used for transporting baggage at airports. A suitable Fergie was also sourced locally. It had a seized engine, so an ideal donor to receive electric power. A used Bradshaw TS 45 volt tug was also bought locally.
Work started on this project in Spring 2022. The first job being the removal of the tug’s motor, batteries, wiring and switches etc., This is when the first problems arose. The motors backplate was part of the tugs axle. After some head scratching, swearing etc. Keith decided to try to find someone who could fabricate a new backplate. A company in Runcorn was entrusted with the job (ERSL Electromech Ltd). On receiving the backplate it allowed Keith to make some progress. The Fergie engine was removed but the sump, flywheel and clutch were retained.
The sump kept as part on bearings and remained in the bell
of the chassis of the tractor and to keep the housing. The tractor gearbox was also
original dimensions and to look the same. retained, thus enabling the tractor to be
The flywheel and clutch were re-mounted driven the same way as a normal tractor.
The remainder of the batteries are carried either side of the driving seat.
The voltage gauge, stop button and on switch located on the dash board.
Most of the electrical control gear resides behind the original dashboard.
The electric motor could now be mounted, this took time and patience, aligning drive shafts etc., The next job was mounting the 24 2 volt batteries. Some would fit in the original engine space, the rest would be mounted down each side. Raising the bonnet height to allow more batteries was not an option, as Keith never liked the raised bonnet position on the P3 conversions.
Eventually the Fergie was complete and ready to try out. Unfortunately the motor would not run, leading to more frustration and swearing. Luckily he has some good friends and neighbours who got involved with the project and the problem was found and rectified. At last the Fergie moves and first impressions are favourable. The speed and gearing are close to the original Fergie. It’s also been tried with a plough and performs well.
This is an ongoing project and Keith would like to improve the Fergie by fitting a Ferguson reduction unit behind the gearbox. This would make the tractor 5 inches longer, allowing more leg room and taking some weight of the front end, as well as providing more gears and live drive.
If anyone has or knows or a genuine Ferguson reduction gearbox for sale, please phone Keith on 07801 241467.
Published in Ferguson Club Journal No.104, Spring 2023