Coldridge Collection

New Book ; Tractors in my Life – Mike Thorne

New Book ; Tractors in my Life – Mike Thorne

A review of Mike Thorne’s new book ‘The Tractors in my Life’  Jonathan Parkes

John Selley contacted me and asked me if I knew anyone who would be willing to write a review on Mike Thorne’s new book The Tractors in my Life. As I had read Mike’s three previous books that he has had published, I thought that I would have a go.

The Tractors in my Life is a hardback book of 150 pages. Mike starts the book with some twenty pages of autobio­graphical material. Covering his family life and school days, through to his early farming career and then on to his fabrication work and how he set up his Coldridge Collection and finally his book writing. This section of Mike’s book is fascinating, showing his determination and good humour through­out. It is always good to know the background to an author and Mike puts his story across very we]].

Fo]]owing on from this, Mike writes about all the tractors that he had acquired, having made extensive records right from the beginning on each one that was purchased. Originally, not all of his tractors

were Ferguson and Massey Ferguson, there are many makes and models from John Deere’s to Mercury Tug Tractors and a Lister Gold Star to name just a few. All of them have detailed descriptions, from whom and where he purchased them from, renovating and restoring them to selling them to make way for the Coldridge Collection to be Ferguson and Massey Ferguson orientated.

All the tractors listed in Mike’s book would be worthy prize winners at any tractor show due to the detail and meticulous restoration that they been subjected to under Mike’s ownership.

The final part of Mike’s book reflects on the unique buildings that homes his ex­tensive collection of tractors and artefacts.

Similar to Mike’s previous three books, his latest publication is an excellent one. Although very detailed and informative, Mike’s writing style makes it a very easy read, as his light hearted humour and having a tale to tell about each tractor and event in his life makes this book an excellent read.

Jonathan Parkes, published in Journal 104, Spring 2023

Read more about Mike Thorne’s Coldridge Collection:‘Tractors in the Coldridge Collection’

Introduction to the Coldridge Collection

A Brief Introduction to the Coldridge Collection

Visit the Coldridge Collection in the Ferguson Club Gallery:
(Then scroll down to ‘Coldridge Collection, Devon’)

Mike Thorne’s introduction to the Coldridge Collection:

“A warm welcome to the Coldridge collection; I felt it might be appropriate to set out a brief introduction to the collection.

On leaving school in 1954 I started working on a farm in Oxfordshire and it was there that I had my first taste of Ferguson in the form of an early TE.D20, a three ton tipping trailer and a post hole digger.

Compared to most of the tractors on this 1000 acre farm, the Ferguson was a dream with its electric starter – the only other tractor in the fleet of 11 that had electric starting was a new type Fordson Major Diesel. The Fordson Standards were difficult to start, the Allis Bs were so and so’s and often kicked back, whilst cranking over the Cat R25 or the Miniapolis Mobile GT took all my strength.

The next serious encounter was in 1964 when I moved to Devon in a farming partnership. By 1966 we bought a second small farm, Lower Park Farm, Coldridge and part of the purchase was a TEF20 missing its injector pump, and a Ferguson rear mounted mower and fertilizer spreader. I soon sourced a second hand pump and had the tractor running: it proved to be very useful and reliable.

Within a year and a half the partnership was dissolved and I started a new career in steel fabrication.

Ferguson came back into my life again in 1985 when a friend told me he knew of a TED20 that was for sale for £100: it was tidy and it just about ran so I bought it – that is No1 in the collection today. In 199* it had a total restoration and tyre tracks were fitted by Ernie Luxton.

As the years went by the tractor bug really got a hold of me and at one point there were about seventy tractors at Lower Park of various makes and sizes including several crawlers.

Talking to a fellow enthusiast at one of our early open days I realized I would need to live to about 250 years old in order to get them all restored. As this is most unlikely, I decided to focus on all things Ferguson and the early Massey Ferguson range with a cut off point of the 100 series.

Another factor in my decision was that I had read a great deal about Harry Ferguson and he had become a kind of hero to me. I admire his determination in developing and perfecting draft control with the converging three point linkage. I also appreciated his attention to detail and highly refined engineering standards.

As the collection increased it became obvious that a building was needed to house and display the restored tractors and implements. This was an opportunity for me to indulge in designing and building the heptagonal shed we have today. Known as the tractor shed it was completed in May 1995 and now houses nearly all the Massey Ferguson tractors in the collection.

Coinciding with the hosting of the Ferguson Club’s AGM in April of the year 2000; I decided to alter the 25 year old farm lean-to building to display more of the collection. It was decided to give this building a bit of a high-tech look feeling that would contrast nicely with the older tractors displayed within it. This is known as the “Ferguson shed” and was completed about 14 hours before the Ferguson club’s AGM. How’s that for timing? Jamie Sheldon, Harry Ferguson’s grandson and president of the Ferguson Club kindly performed the official opening after the AGM business.

This building now houses all things Ferguson – apart from the small mezzanine which is my office area and contains several displays of railway models and related art work. It also provides a viewing gallery.

The next development which started late in 2006 was the clearing out of the 60’ x 60’ Atcost barn. This entailed clearing out all the tractors vehicles and implements that were stored here to make way for a full refurbishment of this building and connecting it to the mezzanine area of the Ferguson shed. It was decided to follow a similar style of design thereby giving a sense of continuity within the two buildings.

The basic parameters for this project were not to alter the building on the outside but on the inside endeavour to gain extra floor space. Luckily the floor level of the Atcost barn is at almost the same level as that of the mezzanine of the Ferguson shed.

To maximise the use of space the decision was taken to install a second mezzanine in the centre section of this building, with careful juggling of heights, this was just possible. To increase the actual area of this floor it seemed prudent to extend the edge of the floor beyond the line of the main stanchions by about 2` 6”/750mm, with the ceiling at this point sloping upwards to the thinish edge which supports the balustrades and in turn the hand railings. This I feel gives the deck a lift.

We installed a 500kg electric hoist track along the apex of the building to enable implements and cut-away models to be lifted to the mezzanine and then trundled along the track to their approximate positions; to facilitate this, the mezzanine ends about 3m  from the electrically operated roller shutter door giving a good balcony effect. The centre section incorporates a home made electrically lit Ferguson trademark, this makes a nice focal point. Illuminated display cases have been built into the cavity walls with plenty of space in between for posters and photographs.

A steel staircase with aluminium chequer plate treads and double stainless steel handrails leads from the ground floor to the mezzanine.

In arranging the tractor exhibits we have endeavoured to group them into families with most of them hitched to a Ferguson implement; remember Harry Ferguson quip, “a tractor without an implement is like a pen without ink!” There are five families here Ferguson Brown, Ford Ferguson and one 8N. A much larger family of TE.20s followed by a group of FE.35s most of the early Massey Ferguson tractors, as mentioned before are in the heptagonal tractor shed: its red stained timber rafters reflecting the colour of those models. The final family are the “odd balls” i.e. tractors not necessarily of Ferguson design, but interesting examples in their own right.

A certain amount of seating has been provided to give visitors the chance to rest their feet, relax, take in the atmosphere and discuss with others the finer points of this and that and possibly put the world to rights!

Also for the benefit of visitors a large flat screen monitor has been installed with facilities to play archive material as well as current available DVD’s and videos. Needless to say some seating has been provided adjacent to this screen.

The aim of these facilities is to heighten the visitor’s awareness of significant achievements of Harry Ferguson and his small team of engineers. Also to display as wide a range as possible of his tractors and implements within a setting that is comfortable as well as dynamic. There may be one or two aspects that stray off these basic parameters e.g. a few display cases dedicated to Land Rover, others highlight some of the great achievements of London Transport. Yet another distraction from the Ferguson theme is the display of some model railway stock, prints by Terence Cuneo, David Sheppard and others. These side tracking’s represent my own personal respect for other areas of Great Britain’s huge engineering achievements of the past.

Please come and sample for yourselves, just give a call on 07966 328 600 to fix a date.

Two Ferguson enthusiasts have said to me quite unsolicited

“Well this must be a shrine to Harry Ferguson.”

My reply was, “Yes I suppose it is”

I very much hope you enjoy your time here

Cheers, Mike

Visit the Coldridge Collection in the Ferguson Club Gallery:
(Then scroll down to ‘Coldridge Collection, Devon’)

© Michael Thorne

Why and How I Started the Coldridge Collection

Why and How I Started the Coldridge Collection’ (Part1) Mike Thorne

Visit the Coldridge Collection in the Ferguson Club Gallery:
(Then scroll down to ‘Coldridge Collection, Devon’)

It was suggested to me by Club Member, John Selley, that I write this article for the Journal. So here we go, but be warned, it may go on a bit!

Well, like most things in life, I did not suddenly decide to start The Coldridge Collection, at Lower Park Farm, Coldridge in Devon. No, of course it had a long gestation period before I actually bought a TED20! So this is the story which will unfold as a series, the tractors, the implements and the buildings they are now displayed in.

A Ford Ferguson and Ferguson Brown displayed at the Coldridge Collection

On leaving school with one GCE in maths in 1954 I started working as a student at Little Stoke Manor, a 1000 acre mixed farm in Oxfordshire. Their range of 11 tractors would sit very well on a rally field today! There were 2 Fordson Standards, 2 American Allis Chalmers Model B, 2 Caterpillar R’s, an International F20 and a 15-30, a Minneapolis Moline Model GT, a new type Fordson Major Diesel and a Ferguson TED20, 6 volt with a Posthole Digger and a Ferguson tipping trailer. I happened to be the main driver of this tractor which suited me very well.

At the end of this year in Oxfordshire my next stage was to attend a one year National Certificate of Agriculture at Oaklands, St. Albans, Hertfordshire. They also ran a Diploma course in Horticulture. Their fleet of tractors included a Field Marshall Series 3, a new type Fordson Major Diesel, an International of some sort, a Ferguson TEF20 with a high lift loader and a David Brown Diesel Cropmaster which was in the throws of being rebuilt in their well-equipped workshop. I found the tuition very much to my liking, working in all the departments of their farm as well as classroom learning in the afternoons. We were treated like adults, but needless to say there were some pranks and, for some reason, I was submerged in a cattle drinking trough! I then had to dry out my clothes as well as some paper money I had in my pockets!

One evening we were given a talk by a representative of Harry Ferguson Ltd, at the end of his talk there was a question time, so some clever dick in the front row (me!) asked him why Ferguson did not make 4 WD tractors to which he replied ‘our tractors have such good traction they do not need it’. Well what do you make of that today!

While I was attending Oaklands my father moved house to rent a farm house at Nicholls Farm, Redbourn, Hertfordshire. It had previously been owned by L.F. Dove Ltd., who had been a Ferguson dealership for that part of Hertfordshire. The only evidence of their ownership I found was a rear axle half shaft and hub!

When I had finished my second year at Oaklands I returned to work at Little Stoke Manor where I spent a further year. Three of us were taken, by the bailiff (in this context he is The Landlord’s Agent!), to The World Ploughing, which that year was held at Shillingford, Oxfordshire between 10th and 12th October 1956. It was on this occasion that I first encountered the recently launched Ferguson FE35 and I took the opportunity to speak with a ploughman who was using one to ask his opinion of the tractor. His response was very positive and provided me with the opportunity to make my own inspection. I gave it ten out of ten and a bronze star!

This second year at Little Stoke I lodged with farm bailiff, David Blomfield and his family and two young teenagers, boys. One of them had been given a 1/16″ scale Airfix model kit of a TE20 which I helped them put together and paint. I wish I had that in the Coldridge Collection today, sadly all I have is just 4 front wheels!

I left Little Stoke for the second time to return to living at Nicholl’s Farm and I found myself a farm job at Organ Hall Farm near Boreham Wood about 12 miles away. This was a rented 120 acre farm run by two brothers, Ron and Joe Salter, mainly based on dairy cattle with about 40 cows housed in traditional cowsheds over the winter period, this was a real working farm. Their tractors were two new type Fordson Major diesels and a rather forlorn Fordson Standard Industrial on small wheels – a real collector’s piece today, this was parked outside in the yard. I worked there for about 3 years and then decided on yet another change, this time working for the Milk Marketing Board (MMB) as a trainee cattle inseminator. Part of my early training was at one of their main centres, in my case Little Horwood, Buckinghamshire. I was able to lodge with the Blomfields as they had moved to a nearby farm, very handy! Part of the early training was handling and looking after the stock bulls, there were about 6 different breeds. By day in Spring, Summer and Autumn the bulls would be taken out, one by one, from the bull sheds (rather like traditional cow stalls but larger and more robust) to be tethered for grazing. This operation was done by passing a looped rope up through the ring in the bull’s nose and then placing the loop around the base of the horns. The long end of the rope was tied to the nine holed rear bar of the farm’s TED20 and then tow the bull slowly out to the field to tether him. I can remember carrying out this procedure with a big mature Hereford bull, Porch Jumbo, with the engine at a brisk tickover, on petrol, he decided to stop and stalled the engine! I restarted and off we went in the most nonchalant manner! I was very glad he did not become aggressive and charge the rear of the TED20!

© Mike Thorne – Journal 101, Summer 2022

Why and How I Started the Coldridge Collection’ (Part2) Mike Thorne

After three years of working for the MMB at their Little Kingshill Sub Centre, Bucks, the head inseminator and I decided to form a farming partnership and we bought, with a mortgage, a 120 acre farm Lower Whitsleigh, North Devon. Most of my friends thought I had made a mistake! Anyway, the purchase included a new type Fordson Major diesel with a Cameron Gardener Rear Loda. After a year of dairy farming at Lower Whitsleigh we were offered a private mortgage so we bought Lower Park Farm, Coldridge and 57 acres where I looked after the 40 dairy cows, more or less 6 days a week, on my own. It was with the purchase of Lower Park we became the owners of a TEF20 minus its fuel injection pump, a Ferguson rear mounted mower and a Ferguson fertilizer spreader. I soon found and fitted the correct CAV fuel pump so now we had two tractors. The partnership was terminated in 1967.

Next I found myself a job as a welder for a firm of well respected steel fabricators A.E.Watson of Exeter, who always had some high profile projects underway. Passing their exacting welding test at my interview I was take on at 6 shillings per hour. For me the nine months I spent at Watsons was Iike a condensed apprenticeship in steel fabrication and I took every opportunity when overtime was offered, and there was plenty. After nine months I left feeling I could do better on my own. Well things did work out steadily for me. I was still living in Lower Park’s rather dilapidated farmhouse, rent free until it was sold and I received my share of the money I had put into the partnership. By 1970 my business was quietly established and I was employing a few people. In 1977 I was offered Lower Park and its 57 acres. I thought the asking price was fair but I was unable to raise a mortgage. The owner offered me a mortgage over a three year period which, by hard work, I was able to payoff to the terms of our agreement.

By 1980 a friend, who worked as an estimator for a scaffolding firm in Exeter, called at my workshop one afternoon to tell me he had noticed a grey Ferguson for sale for £100. I was quite fired up by this rekindling of my Ferguson interest, so I arranged to view it, making sure I had £ 100 cash in my pocket!  Well, I bought it although it was a non-runner, and made arrangements to collect it with my TK Bedford lorry which had a hydraulic lifting crane fitted. On getting it back to Lower Park I put fresh petrol into the tank and cleaned up the plugs and points and it fired up and just about ran. This tractor is No.1 in the Coldridge Collection. It was at this point that the collecting bug really got a hold of me! For the next few years I purchased lots of tractors that came my way, different makes and even some crawlers, all done in an indiscriminate way, with a tally of just short ono. Then, at one of our early open days I can remember talking with an enthusiastic visitor who remarked about the variety and number of tractors I had. I suddenly thought that this was crazy having such a wide assortment, I would need 200 years if I were to get them all restored! No, it would be much more realistic to concentrate on one marque and that, of course would be Ferguson. I had read a lot about Harry Ferguson and his small team who doggedly developed a pioneering concept into a solid functioning piece of engineering, i.e. the Draft Control ­the integration of tractor and implement on the converging three point hydraulic linkage. In terms of tractor models that I would focus on it would be the time span between the Ferguson Model A through to the end of the 100 series. I would also embrace the range of implements and memorabilia, technical data as well as the other Ferguson achievements particularly in the automotive area.

So as time went on I gradually sold off the non-Ferguson models including several that my friend, the late Ernie Luxton had restored for me to a very high standard. Ernie was a most competent Ferguson trained engineer, who, in all the mechanical work he carried for me, was never beaten by any problem that arose. The painting of most of the restoration projects was carried out by Peter Clarke to a very high professional standard.

Gradually it dawned on me that there was not much point in just restoring tractors and implements then storing them sheeted up in a dry shed. No. What would be more creative would be to design and build a space in which to display the finished result in a civilized setting. Of course, this was just the excuse I needed to indulge in a bit of design fantasy! From a young age I have been interested in architecture and making things, Meccano was a great educational toy for me.

My business, by this time (early 1990’s) centred on fabricating and erecting both agricultural and industrial steel framed buildings, from providing the customer with just a basic frame and roof to full ‘turn key’ projects, and it was flourishing. However, there was hardly any opportunity to build something a bit special, but now I had the excuse I was looking for. What sprung to mind was a seven sided building (a heptagonal) set slightly into the sloping site, thus helping it to integrate into the landscape. Five sides would be glazed with tinted toughened glass thus following the arc of the sun from East to West. The vertical glazing bars would be set to lean outwards by 20°, springing from a 2′ high plinth stone wall, rather like the arrange­ment used on airport control buildings to reduce glare. The two remaining sides, would follow the same profile but would be in-filled with heavy duty tongued and grooved boarding set on the diagonal and stained black. The roof would be slate clad (weight 8 tons) topped off with a glazed finale. I set myself the challenge that I did not want fixing bolts on the finished exposed frame. This involved fabricating the seven main frames and the top ring beam on a level concrete floor. To erect the building the centre ring beam was raised on scaffolding set at the correct height with projecting stubs welded to each external comer, these had one 13mm hole drilled in them. At the top end of each of the seven main frames was drilled a corresponding hole. The idea being that as each main frame was raised into position and bolted down to the foundation bolts, a temporary long bolt could be inserted into the aligned holes with the ring beam. When all the seven frames were erected and bolted down we had a relatively stable structure. One by one the eve beams were cut to the correct length, each end having a com- pound mitre, and tack welded into place. After all this was completed and all Ihe intersections fully position welded, (he long bolts were withdrawn and the holes filled with weld and ground smooth. Now the scaffolding could he taken down. The next stage to complete the frame was the cutting and tacking into place the twenty-one purlins, each ring of a smaller rectangular hollow section which is functional and looks aesthetically correct. The last element to be welded into the frames were the window sills, glazing bars and the necessary steelwork that forms the porch and doorway. Then the steelwork was painted in MF Brown.

There was a serious down turn in the construction industry about 1992 so further work had to be put on hold for two years, so at our open days, we displayed a circle of tractors within the skeleton framework! By May 1995 the building was completed.

1 would like to give credit to those people who were key players in this project. My good and long-standing friend Robin Haughton who dealt most professionally with the exposed roof timbers, the continuous internal timber window seating and the diagonal boarding. Robin was also involved with the steelwork assembly but I did most of the site welding – it took ages!

The late Frank Conibere did a super job on the perimeter stone walls using stone from a local quarry. Geraint Vanstone and his son Graham did an excellent job with the complicated intersection of the slate roof using lead soakers rather than the ridge tiles which I thought would look too heavy: but the line of the change had to be spot on, anything less would have been an eye sore! However, Robin and I were allowed to do a lot of the straight forward slating!

Prior to starting this building, I intuitively chose to use 160 x 100 x 4mm rectangular hollow section (RHS) for all the main structural members but when I had worked out the weight of the roof slates I thought I had better get this checked out by my qualified structural engineer, Alan Beal. All was in order but he sensibly pointed out that I could reduce the size of the purlins as they became shorter towards the centre of the building. I am very glad he raised this point, which was followed, as it does look right.

Well, this heptagonal shed was completed in May 1995. Just to round off by relating the fact that a bit before it was completed, I went to see a clairvoyant lady in Crediton for a consultation. Several times during my time with her she said ‘I keep seeing a bleeding flying saucer’. Well, at night, when the internal lights are on, that is just what it looks like!

Needless to say, we soon moved in all the restored tractors – that was a good feeling!

© Mike Thorne – Journal 102, Autumn 2022

Why and How I Started The Coldridge Collection (Part 3) Mike Thorne

What follows is a brief description of what is now displayed within. On entering, and moving around in a clockwise direction, and dealing with the exhibits on the perimeter we have a 1976 Ex-Army MF20, the industrial version of the MF135, with only 283 miles on the clock and 1611 hours on the tractometer. This is Coldridge Collection number 79. Next is a late MF135 with a quick release cab and low hours, one of 6 tractors on loan from AGCO. Next is a pair of doors which I rescued from the main entrance to the Banner Lane offices prior to demolition. At the same time, I was given two impulse electric clocks, I have these displayed on brackets on either side of the door frame. Behind the doors is a drawing board, once owned by MF, loaned to me by my friend Jeremy Burgess, who also gave me 15 bricks from the site.

Bricks salvaged from the Banner Lane site.

The 1976 built MF20, the industrial version of the MF135.

The rescued doors and impulse electric clocks from the Banner Lane offices.

Next to the doors is a Massey Harris Pony powered by a Simca petrol engine which is also on loan from AGCO. Next is a MF35 vineyard model, I bought many years ago from OE Culverwell of East Sussex, a MF Dealer for that area. This I have fitted up with a Ferguson Post Hole Borer and is exhibit No.48. Next is another loan tractor, a MF35 with Multi-Power and PAVT rear wheels, again a low hours example.

Adjacent to this is Coldridge Collection No.40 MF825, a French built machine powered by a Perkins 4 cylinder diesel engine. The next one round is a rather tatty MF130 Vineyard model awaiting restoration and is collection No.80.

The unrestored MF130 Vineyard Model

Next is a MF135 Narrow version, once used as my working tractor, No.81, but now replaced by a MF1020 4wd compact tractor, not yet given a collection number. Moving on is a MF65 Mk2 Industrial with Instant Reverse Shuttle, having a 4 speed gearbox controlled by two separate levers. Forward and reverse speeds are all the same, this is No.54. Next is a MF175 with Multi-Power and PAVT wheels, No.78. A nice hefty, easy to drive tractor. To complete this row is a MF135 tractor.

4WD and equipped with a mid-mounted mower driven off a centre PTO. I imported this from Austria and it is No.85. It was usual practice to supply Coventry built tractors destined for either Germany or Austria to have the facility to have a mid­-mounted PTO as mowers of this type were widely used in these countries.

Now filling in the remaining space; right in the centre I have placed ‘The Nipper’, again on loan from AGCO, which I have described fully in a previous edition of the Journal.

Next to the entrance doors is a MFl35 petrol model, No.83, that was originally used in Jersey on a mushroom farm, presumably to reduce exhaust fume contamination. These models are quite rare in the UK but many were exported to New Zealand and Denmark where petrol was rebated for agricultural use. My friend in Belgium has one which he tells me was originally imported from Denmark. I was told by the late Dick Dowdeswell (ex­-Ferguson/Massey Ferguson demonstrator) that MF would often loan petrol MF135’s to horse riding events for ground duties because the much quieter engines were less likely to spook the horses!

The French built MF825 with Perkins engine.

Also, in this part of the building is a MF135 Vineyard No.86, it is fitted with the MF reduction gearbox which, because it is a sandwich box, extends the length of the tractor. The final tractor No.74 in this shed is a MFI 30 complete with two furrow Disc Plough 2-P-AE20. Luckily for me, when I was grit blasting it prior to painting, we turned it over and heard a rattle in the main tubular frame which turned out to be the large single ended spanner that was provided with these ploughs and fits the large nuts on the disc carriers. One final exhibit that must not be forgotten is an early Avery Hartnol petrol pump finished in Shell colours of red and yellow. It is topped off with a Shell Mex globe and is in working order!

The MF65 Mk2 stands out in its industrial yellow livery.

The next building to house tractors was completed just in time to host the Club’s AGM & AMW in April 2000. I had arranged for Jamie Sheldon to perform the official opening of this shed known as ‘The Ferguson Shed’. Sadly, at that point I had not installed a visitor’s book which was a shame but was soon rectified. This building was not purpose built, but a conversion of a 60′ x 30′ lean-to farm storage shed made soon after I purchased Lower Park in 1977. To ensure this conversion tied in with the adjacent heptagonal shed, the rafters supporting the roof were extended by about 5′ (1525mm) thus enabling us to replicate on the long side the arrangement used next door i.e. sloping outwards by 20° and to provide an overhang of about 3′ thus giving a bit of shelter from the rain or sun. A couple of long garden seats are in place for visitors to relax and take in the views! To create a bit of dynamic I aimed to give the inside a sort of high-tech look which I thought would contrast well with the old tractors displayed within. To this end Robin and I cut 5.5″ holes in the rakers and 3.5″ in the stanchions. We installed, 2′ below the metal roof lining sheet, two runs of oval section ventilating ducting with home-made uplighters and an assortment of spots and down lights on the underside.

The MF35X vineyard model

The 4WD MF135 with cab and mid-mounted mower.

Across the far and back wall Geraint and Graham built us an internal wall using lightweight blocks, this gave the opportunity to create separate ladies and gents toilets and to build in illuminated display cases. Along most of the back wall we were able to install a mezzanine area about 9′ (2286mm) wide reached by an offset staircase with treads of aluminium chequer plate, with stainless steel handrail, being supported by blue painted steel balustrades, also with holes for decoration which continues the full length of the mezzanine. This is where I have my desk, phone and expresso coffee making machine: NO computer! This is where the bills are paid and writing done. Keeping me company I have some railway models in three display cases plus a decent sized bookcase and some framed prints by none other than Terence Cuneo as well as a very fine 5″ gauge model of No.70013 Oliver Cromwell, a British Railways Britannia Class locomotive designed by Robert Riddles and built at Crewe in 1951.

Photographs by Dr Mike Oakins
© Mike Thorne, first published in Ferguson Club Journal No.103 Winter 2022/23

Why and How I Started The Coldridge Collection (Part 4) Mike Thorne

On entering, to the left is Coldridge Collection Nol, a restored TED20 fitted with tyre tracks type A-TE-l J3 and an American made Ferguson PTO adaptor. This accessory serves two functions, it increases the diameter to 13/8″ and moves the far end 1 0.5″ from the centre hole of the Ferguson 9 hole drawbar i.e. to a SAE Standard. Also fitted to this exhibit is a Ferguson accessory made by the English Numbering Co. an hour counter that is bolted to the dynamo and driven by a gearwheel fitted between the pulley and the end part of the body.

Ferguson 30cwt tipping trailer.

The next exhibit is a Ferguson 30cwt tipping trailer type L-SE-30. Although rebuilt, the tipping pipe and handbrake linkage is not yet fitted. Next is Ferguson TEE20 No.64. This example has been fully restored and I have fitted it with a pair of narrow rear wheels, 4.00 x 36″ and aFerguson Low Volume sprayer type S-LE­20 and an Allman Speedometer calibrated to 20mph, earlier ones went to l5mph. The odometer is calibrated in furlongs. (Readers may remember I wrote an article about this for the Journal some while ago).

TED20 fitted with tyre tracks and lighting kit.

TEE20 with an Allman Speedometer fitted.

Next is No.91 an experimental prototype based on a TED20 but fitted with a Meadow’s direct injection diesel engine. (Again, this is covered by an article in a previous Journal). This is most likely the only surviving one but at least two examples are known to have been built.

The engine starts instantly, even in very cold weather and it pulls like the preverbal train! Fitted with a MF793,3 furrow plough set at 12″. On hard red Devon soil in 3rd gear it pulled well but the smoke was disgusting, in 2nd gear it purred along beautifully!

TED20 with Meadow’s diesel engine fitted.

The unrestored TEF20 Reekie conversion fitted with narrow rear wheels.

The complicated hitch of the Mark 1 trailer.

CC No.38 is a restored 1947 TE20 which is coupled to a Ferguson 3 ton tipping trailer F-JE-A30, often referred to as the Mark l. These early examples have a very complicated hitching linkage that does enable weight to be transferred from the trailer to the tractor’s rear wheels. They were only in production for a very short time before Harry Ferguson asked Industrial Inventor, Theo Sherwen to develop the hitch that is used today. It is rumoured he was given just 10 days to develop the new hitch. Once the modified design had been worked out, Harry Ferguson offered conversion kits to enable early trailers to be brought up to the later design.

Next we have CC No.61, this is a TEL20, a TVO Vineyard model. I bought this from a market gardener in North Somerset and it came complete with Howard Reduction Gearbox which is fitted within the transmission case. Howard designed these gearboxes especially for use in the TE20s. When hitched to a Howard Rotavator; it is vitaJly important not to subject the transmission to high loads when in low range as there is a risk of broken teeth!

Following this we have CC No.70, a Standard Motor Co. prototype designated Zero 1, the only survivor of the two that were made. Mine is fitted with a 23C diesel engine with a modified cylinder head to take a heater plug in each of the combustion chambers. (Again, this has been the subject of an article in the Journal). They were followed by two more different prototypes known as Zero 2. Both of these have survived in private ownership.

Standing next to this is CC No.93 an unrestored Reekie conversion of a Ferguson TEF20 fitted with 4.00 x 36″ rear wheels and a Howard Reduction Gearbox. (I had better do an article on this tractor!).

CC No.4 is a restored TEA20 I bought locally and was restored by the late Ernie Luxton. This is fitted to a Cameron Gardener Handy Loda with an earth bucket. The three point linkage has an assister contracting ram drawing high pressure oil from the pump. It works well and has plenty of wheel grip but drivers tended to get neck ache! This tractor is displayed with a genuine Ferguson tractor cover A-TE-A68.

The Cameron Gardener Handy Loda.

Next is CC No.82, a rare surviving 4WD conversion by Selene of Nichelino, near Milan, Italy. Drive is taken from the rear end of the gearbox within its own ‘sandwich’ or transfer box with sliding gears to enable the drive to the front axle to be selected. The front axle is ex WW2 Jeep but cut back to reduce its track width so as to align with the rear-wheels. Front tyres are 7.50 x 16″, needless to say the steering lock is much reduced. Interestingly, within the swivel hubs are proper constant velocity joints. Also, the gearing ratios are spot on as it is possible to drive the tractor at full speed and then engage 4WD without any horrible noise! Also fitted to this tractor is a Ferguson Tractometer A- TE-93 which records hours worked as well as engine speed. Drive is taken from the dynamo shaft and transmitted, via a flexible cable, to the instrument mounted just below the dash.

The 4WD TED20 conversion by the Italian firm Selene.

Photographs by Dr Mike Oakins
© Mike Thorne, first published in Ferguson Club Journal No.104 Spring 2022/23

‘Traction for Sale’, Ferguson R5 4WD

Traction for Sale Mike Thorne

Tim Hanson, your editor, suggested that I write a review of this handsome new publication written by Bill Munro and Patricia Turner. Traction for Sale is the story of Harry Ferguson and his team in their development of permanent 4WD drive systems for road vehicles, this included their own prototypes and the conversions to 4WD of some mass produced cars and vans. Also embraced in this story are the developments they pioneered in racing cars: this was the era of Harry Ferguson Research (H.FR.) later to become Formula Ferguson Developments Ltd. (FFD) and eventually Ricardo FFD. Harry Ferguson’s interest in producing a ‘Safer Car for the Masses’ dates back before the merger with Massey Harris but unfortunately he did not live quite long enough to see the success of his 4WD Racing Car. Following his death in October 1960 the business was headed up by H.F’s son-in-law, Tony Sheldon with the able assistance of Tony Rolt (former Team Jaguar Racing Driver).

It cannot be over­emphasised that it was Tony Rolt who was the driving force in all this experimental work, right from the early days of Dixon-Rolt Develop­ments, the HFR era and well on into the days of Formula Ferguson De­velopments Ltd., which was in fact Rolt’s own company, with no direct business connection with the Ferguson Family Trust.

This book had a long gestation period. Bill Munro first became interested when, during his research into Jeeps in 1998, he contacted Ricardo FFD (formerly FF Developments) and met one of their long time engineers, Will Turner, whose wife, Patricia, had previously written an unpublished history of Harry Ferguson Research. It was suggested that Bill should make use of this and so the seeds were sown.

‘R5′ OWK 21 was the last Ferguson research car to be built before the company changed direction and began to adapt the technology to fit other makers’ cars.

I jumped at this opportunity to write a review as I have a strong interest in all H.Fs pioneering work not only his developed of the Ferguson System but the work he and his team became involved with, later in his life, to engineer safer road cars with the inclusion of 4WD and anti­locking braking systems.

This hardback book runs to 350 pages, profusely illustrated with archive photo­graphs and line drawings. It is clear that Bill has done much in-depth and wide ranging research and the manner in which he has presented this is evidence of his fascination with the subject and dare I say addictiori. I have found this book compulsive reading.

‘R3C’ is the third generation research car, pictured with Major Tony Rolt in the garden of Harry Ferguson’s home at Abbottswood, Gloucestershire.

The book is very detailed and I feel I can give you a flavour of this with the follow­ing bullet points taken from the back cover:-

  • In a story spanning seven decades, Traction for Sale tells of the efforts made to bring Ferguson full time four wheel drive to the mass market.
  • The Story of Harry Ferguson Research Ltd in developing the Ferguson Formula of All-wheel Control.
  • Full story of the Ferguson research cars.
  • The story of F.F. Developments, the comp­any founded by Tony Rolt to take the tech­nology forward when the estate of Harry Ferguson ceased to fund any further research.

Details of:-

  • Leading production cars: The Jensen FF, AMC Eagle and the Ford Sierra XR 4X4
  • Converted cars: The Ford Mustangs, Ford Zephyr MK4 and Capri, the Schuler Super Ranger and Opel Monza and Senator.
  • Formula One cars: The Ferguson Climax P99, BRM P67, Matra MS84 and Lotus 56B.-
  • Indianapolis cars: The Novi-Ferguson cars, the Paxton Turbocar and the Lotus 56.
  • Peter Westbury’s: Felday 4 and Felday 5 sports racers.
  • Group B rally cars: Peugeot 205T16, Lancia Delta S4, Ford RS200 and MG Metro 6R4.
  • Other vehicles that either made it into full production or never got beyond the planning stage.
  • Non four wheel drive work carried out by H.F.R. and transmissions contracts fulfilled by FF Developments.

To summarize I feel this book is a ‘must have’ for anyone who is stimulated by pioneering engineering concepts and is also another insght into H.F’s versatility. There was much more to him than just the ‘Little Grey Tractor’. When this work started, 4WD was generally confined to military and off-road vehicles. The philosophy behind all this development work was to engineer a safer road car for everyone. Today, of course, 4WD is almost common place.

The forward to Bill’s book is written by the Duke of Richmond and Gordon, his concluding paragraph is, in my opinion, spot on. ‘This is a great story, told in the kind of detail that will appeal to all of those who appreciate inventive engineering’.

© Mike Thorne, First published in the Ferguson Club Journal, Issue 93, Winter 2019/20

Ferguson Prototype Flat Four Engine

Ferguson Prototype Flat Four Engine, Mike Thorne and Peter Smith:

Ferguson prototype Flat Four engine, designed to power the R5 Estate Car, developed and produced by Harry Ferguson Research Ltd (HFR).

This story started in 2012 when I received, out of the blue, a phone call from a gentleman based in Herefordshire, asking me if I would be interested in buying two prototype Ferguson car engines. One was an overhead valve unit, developed to power the R4 Ferguson car, while the other, the subject of this article, is an overhead cam engine, with toothed belts driving each camshaft. Yes, of course I was, but his asking price was far beyond my means and although he seemed very keen that they should come to the Coldridge Collection, I had to say sorry, I cannot afford to pay your asking price, and left it at that.

Well about ten days later he phoned me again with the suggestion that I may have a tractor that I would be prepared to swap for the two engines. My immediate response was yes, I have a MF165, fitted with a four wheel traction conversion in a rough, unrestored state, apart from the engine which was running quite well, all the sheet metal work was rusted out, but I had been able to buy some genuine replacement items second hand, so they were included in the swap. He was very happy with all this and a few days later he arrived with his 7.5ton 100TY with the two engines and a couple of boxed of various gaskets suitable for them. So we off loaded the engines and he drove the MF165 onto his lorry, strapped it down and set off back to Hereford.

The rusty and decaying engine as it arrived at Mike Thorne’s Coldridge collection.

I kept these engines in dry storage; they were viewed from time to time by interested visitors. One was a gentleman who had worked for HFR and he had been involved with the R5 project. It was he who told me that a batch of seven engines had been developed and built up, mine carries a commission plate marked P94/4 (project 94 number 4). He went on to tell me that on one, they had cut a piece out of the left hand rocker cover so that oil flow could be monitored, the cut was fitted with a perspex window. My reply was ‘that is this engine’!

Over time I have made a point of collecting any technical data relating to either of these engines. So far most of what I have been able to collect relates to the R5 engine, details of the earlier units seem to be more elusive. It is perhaps worth quoting here from one of these documents Automotive Engineer – March 1966 ‘A compact high performance 2232cc four cylinder horizontally opposed unit’ and a further quote ‘an engineer’s engine’. This power unit was designed by HFR chief engineer Claud Hill, an ex. Aston Martin designer. It was a very much developed follow on from the earlier OHV (push rods) that were installed in the Ferguson R4 car. Perhaps it should be mentioned here that Harry Ferguson Research was headed up at this time by Tony Sheldon, HF’s son-in-law, who took over following Harry Fergusons death in October 1960. Another aside is at one point in the development of the R4, the engineers were keen to road test it out, but their engine was not ready, so they decided to install a Jowet Javelin flat four OHV unit of 1.5 litres; by the way, the engine and the car were designed by their engineer, Gerald Palmer.

The specification of the R5 engine P94/4 is as follows:- Bore 95mm, stroke 78mm swept volume 2212cc, compression ratio 9:1, sump capacity 10pts of SAE 10/40. Its alternator is driven by a micro vee belt.

The first set of performance figures are taken from the Automotive Engineer dated March 1965 and are as follows: – max power output 125bhp at 5400rpm, max torque 131Ib/ft at 2500rpm, firing order 1,4,2,3. The second set of figures are taken from the Motor Magazines road test, dated August 1966 of the same engine i.e. fitted with two SU HD6 carburettors, max power 116bhp at 5400rpm, max torque 1281b/ft at 3500rpm.

The next part of this story started in the Summer of 2018 when Club members Julie Browning and Peter Smith visited the Coldridge Collection and Peter being a most competent motor engineer offered to rebuild this with his friend Robert McColl, needless to say I was delighted with this offer so the engine was loaded into their vehicle and they headed off back up to Cheshire.

Over now, to Peter Smith and Robert McColl to explain how with their skills and enthusiasm the engine was rebuilt to run­ning order, and a stand made to display it.

I first saw Mike’s Ferguson Research engines on one of our regular visits to Coldridge. After a look around the collection, Mike said that he had something to show us. In the back of the workshop there were two prototype engines. At a distance they looked quite complete and I said that “I didn’t think the overhead cam engine would take much to get it going”. How wrong can one be? So, after a little discussion, Mike decided that I would be the one to restore the engine.

Several years passed due to other commitments, but eventually the day came to collect the engine. We had been to the 2018 Dorset Steam Fair and on the way home we arranged to visit Mike and bring the OHC engine to Wilmslow. Rob McCall, a good friend of ours agreed to help me with the restoration of this engine and the whole process has been a joint venture between Rob and myself, with help from Dennis Williamson and lots of helpful advice from Julie.

As soon as we got the engine back to Cheshire, it became apparent that the task was going to be much larger that we first thought. The engine was seized and when the top of the air filter was removed, it was clear that rodents had been using it as a home for quite some time.

Whatever had been living in it, had, in the process, caused considerable damage to the aluminium carburettor bodies.

The first job was to secure the engine before dismantling it. We do have a good engine stand, but as the engine was to be displayed on a stand when completed, the decision was taken to make the frame first. 50mm box section was used for this purpose and Rob welded it all together. The design allowed for the engine to sit on the frame with all the ancillaries to be mounted to the right of the engine. This would allow for an unobstructed view of the engine. The frame also allowed for the sump to sit inside the stand for service and inspection.

Once the engine was safely mounted, the next job was to assess the cause of it being seized. The spark plugs were removed and a borescope was used to check on the state of the bores. The news wasn’t good and the decision was taken to carry out a full strip down.

The engine was completely stripped and it was reasonably easy to free off and remove the sized piston. It was at this point we were able to completely understand and appreciate the design of the engine.

The cylinders are paired front and rear. Both front pistons hit TDC together eliminating a lot of vibration. Throughout the rebuild we have noted several other unusual design features that are not often seen on engines of this era; The pistons themselves are of a complex design, shaped to match the internals of the cylinder head and valve arrangement for efficiency and performance. The rocker shaft mounting posts have one-way valves built in, presumably for maintaining oil pressure within the valve train. Due to the physical construction of a flat 4, the engine is effectively a “dry sump” arrangement relying only on pumped oil for lubrication to the crankshaft, we have no documentation to support whether this was at this stage merely a coincidence of design, or an intentional feature of Ferguson’s to reduce drag on the crankshaft. Perhaps most unusual of all for an engine of this period is the timing being controlled by two independent toothed belts, this at this time was very much in line with the emerging technology of the era and one report actually states that this was a first. The whole engine being a flat four would have had a low centre of gravity and would have suited a sports car/racing car.

The engine block was cleaned up and the cylinders were honed. The pistons were cleaned, but the rings were seized tightly within the grooves and could not be removed intact; so, a new set of piston rings were sourced. They had to be custom made as none of the piston ring manufactures had anything on the shelf that would fit the Ferguson engine, as they were of quite narrow gauge.

Mike had supplied a box of mixed gaskets. It soon became apparent that not all the gaskets were for this engine, but were probably of other variants of similar engines that HFR were working on at the time. Fortunately, we did find a good set of head gaskets that fitted.

The rebuild started and progressed quite well. Timing belts had already been sourced. The correct pitch was not available in the U.K. as it was imperial, but we were able to order a set from the U.S. and when the factory had enough special orders, they batched them.

Looking down on to the restored engine which shows its unique shape.

How to time the engine was still a mystery, due to a lack of technical data. When the flywheel was cleaned up, we discovered two sets of markings. One of these looked to be in the correct place for TDC. Camshaft pulleys had been marked on strip down as their bolt pattern and the lack of a locating dowel allowed the pulleys to be fitted in six different positions. Again, when cleaned up, there were also timing marks on the camshaft pull~ys. When all these marks were aligned, it became apparent that the engine frame had subtle timing marks and everything made sense. Even though everything looked obvious, the engine was rotated slowly by hand many times while observing the actions of the valves until we were completely happy that the engine timing was correct.

The next step was to create starter, fuelling and ignition wiring for the engine. It had come with a distributor, but little else. A control panel was fabricated onto the frame and to this all necessary components and switches to make the engine run. It was at this point a fuel tank and fuel pump were installed.

Due to the previously mentioned damage, a set of carburettors were sourced from a well-known internet auction site. They had to be stripped and checked over. New needles were fitted to the same specification as those in the original carburettors (which took considerable attention to remove). We hope these will give a reasonable performance, but it is my guess that Ferguson had tried many different needle combinations, as there is literature that suggests many different carburettor arrangements were trialled and tested on these engines.

Along came test day and the moment of truth. A battery was connected and a small amount of fuel put in the tank. It took three of four quick attempts and with a small adjustment to the distributor timing, it was running. This test was for about ten seconds as the engine still had no water in it, but it was successful.

An exhaust manifold was made from scratch. No silencer has (at time of writing) been fitted, but the hot gasses are now directed away from the engine. A radiator was fitted to the far right of the frame and hoses routed from the engine to the radiator. This allowed for a much longer test run.

Now knowing that the engine would run and with talk of its first public outing, we turned our attention to safety. A perspex guard was fitted to the front of the engine to protect the timing belts, but still allow full vision. To the rear a mesh guard was made to cover the flywheel.

The restored engine mounted to its new frame with the control panel to the top right.

Just to round off this article, I would like any interested person to feel free to contact me on 07966328600 to make an appointment to view the Coldridge Collection. Likewise Peter Smith and Julie Browning, who have an extensive collection of rare Ferguson tractors and implements, many from the American manufactory, would welcome visitors.

© Mike Thorne and Peter Smith, Ferguson Club Journal Issue 94, Spring 2020

Meadows Engine Ferguson TED20 – 1

Meadows Engine Ferguson TED20:

Serial Number 124639
Made 19th March 1950 and registered September 1950

It was a well known fact that Harry Ferguson was not keen on diesel engines, but of course the farmers were. It did not take Frank Perkins long to offer a conversion kit to enable the installation of their P3 (TA) unit to be fitted retrospectively to TE20 tractors. Just for the record is should be noted that Frank Perkins had installed, in his own Ford 2N, a Perkins P4 (TA) and had used it successfully on his own farm.

So eventually in 1950 Harry Ferguson realised that he would have to concede to customer requirements and be able to market a diesel engined TE20. To this end he commissioned three diesel engine manufacturers to provide a TE20 fitted with their own engine for evaluation and field testing. The Standard Motor Company Ltd was the obvious contender so they invited Arthur Freeman Sanders, a light weight diesel engine expert of the time, to work with their own development engineers to produce a prototype engine. Prior to this work for Standard he had designed and built two six cylinder diesel car engines: one he installed in a Studebaker and the other in an Alvis TA21 which he had bought new minus the normal three litre petrol engine (see Alvis Three Litre in Detail by David Culshaw). So it is not surprising to find that to meet Standards request he followed a similar layout, but only four cylinders.

Another contender was Perkins of Peterborough, who, using one of their already available conversions was able to submit that. It is worth noting that the petrol engine of the early TEA20 produced 23.9 bhp at 2000 rpm while the P3 diesel engine produced 32 bhp at the same speed.

The late Harold Beer puts the Meadows tractor to the test.

Another Meadows prototype being prepared to be sent for testing

The final offering for evaluation was built up by Meadows of Wolverhampton, an established firm of engine builders, both petrol and diesel; they were part of a group of engine builders that included Brush Mirrlees and Petter, collectively A.B.O.E.

Before going on to set out details of this engine I feel it appropriate to briefly outline how it eventually came to Coldridge. It was back in 1999 when I was researching for information about the Ferguson LTX prototype tractors and talking to people who had been involved in its develoPI1lent and field testing. It was my intention to commission a model maker, Paul Dimock of Somerset, to produce a limited edition of fifty models in 18th scale of this tractor. It was the late Erik Frediksen (an ex Massey Ferguson design engineer) who kindly arranged for me to meet up with seven or eight men who had been working on that project. It was Nigel Liney a field test driver who asked me if I would like to see an unusual Ferguson TE20, of course I was keen. Yes, there it was, grown in with trees and brambles, no wheels and a big hole in the crankcase on the oil gallery side of the engine where number three connection rod had smashed its way through.

The Meadows tractor arrives at the workshop of David White after 40 years out in the open

A big hole in the crankcase where number three connecting rod smashed through.

I asked Nigel if he would be willing to visit the owner, to handover my written offer so that, hopefully, I could buy it: sadly my offer was turned down.
Anyway, it was eventually bought by David White of Ormskirk a most competent agricultural engineer specialising in vintage machinery who restored it back to full working order – a monumental task.

The story of its recovery and rebuild was fully dealt with in two issues of Vintage Tractor, June/July and August/September .
2004. Having viewed the tractor back in 1999 I made a point of writing to David to compliment him on his amazing achievement, adding the point that if he ever decided to sell it perhaps he would be good enough to give me first refusal. He offered it to me in October 2005, I did not argue over his asking price because I felt it very fair considering the colossal amount of work he’d put into its rebuild. He phoned me on a Wednesday and delivered it to Coldridge the following Saturday, along with several of the parts which he had replaced.

The bent and broken conrod

The exhaust ports were choked with carbon.

About the engine. It is quite clear that Meadows/Petter produced the block to fit exactly in place of the Standard petrol/TVO engine. As can be seen from the photographs it follows the flange of the clutch bell housing exactly and although the cylinder head was a purpose made casting, the sump was taken directly from a Standard built petrol engine, likewise the water pump, oil filter (early vehicle type) and the oil filler cap. The fuel tank was especially fabricated with a saddle base so that it sat neatly over the engine, which is slightly higher by about two inches (50 mm) but the bonnet closes normally to the dash panel. The engine is a direct injection unit fitted with a CAV inline pump with an excess fuel button. The 6 volt starter motor is retained, but the tractor has a 12 volt battery. Needless to say it fires up instantly at below zero. It has been used at an autumn ploughing day on hard red Devon soil hitched to a MF three furrow 793 plough set at 12 inches (300 mm). It purred along in second gear as sweet as a nut. When the late Harold Beer was driving it he decided to try it in third gear, it worked but the black smoke was disgusting, a not to be repeated test. As Nigel Liney told me back in 1999 the Meadows engine tractor had the best pulling characteristics against the Perkins and the Standard 20C. I would certainly validate that!

Engine designation and specification:
• Meadows engine No.BXA 105 Type 4DC 1/35
• Bore 80mm, stroke 110mm, capacity 2212cc. Output not known as I do not have a dynamometer.
• The Standard Petrol engine: Bore 80mm, stroke 92mm

© Mike Thorne, first published, Ferguson Club Journal, Issue No.90 Winter 2018/19

Meadows Engine Ferguson TED20 – 2

Meadows Engine Ferguson TED20, Mike Thorne, Journal 52, Spring 2006

It was back in 1998 when doing some research in the Midlands for the 1/18 scale models of the Ferguson LTX tractor which I had produced and ready for sale by April 2000. At this time I had the privilege to meet and talk with many of those people who were involved in its development and field testing. One of the team was Nigel Liney and it was he who told me about other evaluation work being done by Harry Ferguson Ltd when they were looking at the production of a diesel version of the TE20. Apparently they asked three engine manufacturers to offer a suitably sized engine for fitment to the TE20. The thinking behind this was to enable the Ferguson people to have a good opportunity to give each engine installation a thorough and long term assessment.

The three firms asked to supply a unit each were Standard Motor Co. Ltd of Coventry, Frank Perkins Ltd of Peterborough and Meadows Engines Ltd of Wolverhampton.

As the Standard Motor Co did not have a diesel unit in production at the time and were obviously hopeful of securing the contract, so they sought the services of Freeman Sanders who were experts in small diesel engine design, living and worked at Penzance in Cornwall. He had already developed a lightish weight 6 cylinder indirect injection high speed auto motive type of diesel engine and had two built up. One he installed in a Studebaker and the other he installed in a new Alvis TA2 which was supplied to him by the factory but less its normal petrol engine. The general layout of this 6 cyliinder engine is remarkably close to what he eventually helped to develop for the Standard Motor Co. for installation in the TE20 and for some other applications.

The next offering came from F Perkins who by this time 1949/19S0 had in their range a suitable and proven engine in the form of the TA. TA = tractor Application. Perkins had been supplying these engines as kits for retrospective installation in various small tractors i.e. the Allis B thc Ford Ferguson 8N and of course the TE20.

The fact is that Nigel Liney managed to tip the test TE20 converted to diesel with the P3 engine on to it’s back whilst ploughing with a three furrow plough: the driving method with a TED20 was to be flat out in 2nd gear, lift the plough out at the headland and spin through 90° on the independent brake but it did not work too well with the test P3!

The third diesel engine to be evaluated was produced by Meadows of Wolver­hampton and is now the main subject of this article.

The same team of people had also been involved in the testing and evaluation program of the three different models of diesel engines fitted to a normal TE20 Ferguson, as mentioned earlier. Nigel knew where the Meadows one had ended up, in fact at one time he had tried to buy it. So onc afternoon we drove about 6 miles from Nigel’s house to view the tractor. This we did. but the view was very restricted: the tractor was missing part of its front axle and totally engulfed in trees and brambles making it quite impossible to get to it at close quarters. As we drove away I spoke enthusiastically to Nigel that I would really like to buy and restore this Ferguson. Nigel warned me that a connecting rod had broken and gone through the crank case. I was not put off by this ‘little problem’. An offer was duly made to the owner who de­clined to sell: disappointed I accepted the fact, but asked Nigel to keep and eye on it!

The next I heard about the Meadows Engined Ferguson when an article appeared in Vintage Tractor Magazine – of June/July 2004 by coincidence alongside an article Tim Bolton had written about the Coldridge Collection here in Devon – a strange coincidence!

Tim Bolton’s article spawned two issues in his magazine the one just mentioned and Dec/J an 2004/2005. These articles described how the tractor had been bought by engineer and restoration expert David White from near Ormskirk. On taking the tractor back to his works he set about the monumental task of repairing the engine not just the big hole in the side – which by the way had been part of the oil gallery! This had been caused by the breaking of number three connecting rod. David carefully made a pattern to the shape of the missing piece of the crank case and oil way about 9″ long and 31h” at the widest part. From this pattern David had accurately made a piece of cast steel and then he welded it into place on the crank case.

The pattern which was made to repair the crank case.

Next he turned his attention to the crank shaft; which was about I 00 thou undersize on number three pin. The journals were turned down to clean them up metal sprayed to slightly oversize then ground back to their standard size. The hand made connecting rods were in reasonable order except for number three which had to be repaired and rebored to size. David was able to find that Toyota shells fitted the main journals whilst Jaguar thrusts were used on the mains. The shells for the big end bearing were Petter as were the original and replacement pistons: the bores were sleeved and bored back to original size. The CAY series A fuel injection pump had to have new and slightly different bearings/seals fitted so a bit of machining had to be done to the pump body. New elements were fitted at the same time. Sourcing suitable fuel and oil filter elements proved difficult but again Petter parts seemed the most appropriate. It is interesting to note that the oil bath air intake filter is a Donaldson almost exactly the same as fitted to the Ferguson Brown in 1936! The engine is of direct injection design and fitted with a 6 volt electrical system: the starter motor is a Lucas M459 being a simple Bendix drive type unlike the normal pre-engagement type fitted to most diesel engines. I think the Turner Yeoman of England tractor had a similar Bendix drive. Nigel Liney recalls that as part of the winter test program the three diesel engine TE20 were left out overnight in freezing conditions so that in the morning the cold starting characteristics could be assessed. In this area the Meadows did not fare very well, no doubt the 6 volt system was the main cause, to overcome this drawback the test team would light a small fire under the tractor to warm the oil prior to attempting to start the engine: this usually worked. David fitted the tractor with a Heavy Duty 12 volt battery that fits neatly into the original battery carrier, this works well but several attempts have to be made to start it, because as soon as the engine fires the pinion is thrown out of engagement with the flywheel, as we know diesel engines often need a bit of cranking. Being a direct injection design there are no cold starting aids fitted apart from an excess fuel button on the pump and a heater plug on the inlet manifold. So far the tractor starts OK, although it does ‘hunt’ a bit when cold. Oil pressure is very good about 60psi, as is its lugging ability, I am keen to get it coupled up to a three furrow Ferguson plough when the Spring cultivations get underway.

Finishing touches to the restoration.

It is thought that this Meadows engine type 4DC 1/35 was one of a small batch especially built up to meet the requirement of the TE20. It will be noted that the front axle carrier bracket fits very neatly to the front of the engine whilst the rear lines up exactly with the clutch bell housing of the TE20. Interestingly the sump is directly from a Standard Motor Co. petrol engine, as used on a TED20, the fuel tank looks similar but, is obviously a one off and is rather saddled to enable it to fit over the engine and just clear the bonnet. The filler is to the rear of the tank and is fitted with a push and turn type brass cap, but it is retained by a short chain in exactly the same way as the Ferguson screw type cap is. David found on the underside of the bonnet three layers of paint, the base Ferguson light grey, second coat the grey/green it has now been repainted and on top of that Ferguson light grey again. To complete the restoration David had new Meadows name plates made for each side of the tractor as the original had deteriorated badly, but was sufficiently intact to enable replicas to be made. Prior to David White buying the tractor the previous owner had taken the wise precaution to remove the original Meadows badge from the bonnet grill for safe keeping in his house. When the tractor changed hands the original badge was part of the deal. Fearing that if he put the original badge back on the tractor it might go missing, David decided to have a replica made for fitment to the tractor: this is the one you see at the present time.

Following the articles in Vintage Tractor I wrote to David congratulating him on his purchasing and wishing him well with the massive engine restoration project, I also indicated my interest in perhaps buying the tractor if for whatever reason he might wish to sell it. Late October 2005 David phoned me to say he had decided to sell the tractor and hoped I would buy it. We agreed a price on the Wednesday and by the following Saturday David arrived here at Coldridge with the Meadows engined Ferguson on his trailer. I was delighted, a unique tractor I had known about in 1998 had finally come to the Coldridge Collection just over seven years later. Roll on the Spring.

Basic details of this tractor

  • Registration Number KDU 559 first registered 14th September 1950
  • Tractor Number TED 124039 completed 22nd March 1950.
  • Engine Meadows inline’ 4-cylinder overhead valve direct injection type DC 1/35.
  • Bore and stroke 80mm x 110mm
  • Capacity 2212cc.
  • Fuel Pump CAV type 17A with pneumatic governor
  • 6 volt electrics with 12 volt battery!

Any further information on this project would be most welcome just phone Mike on 07966 328 600.

Photographs by Mike Thorne, Tim Bolton and David White. Thanks to Tim and David for the information and being so helpful.

Mike Thorne, first published in Journal 52, Spring 2006.

The Standard Motor Company Prototype Dumper Truck

The Story of the Standard Motor Company Prototype Dumper Truck

I was recently informed by the well-known Massey writer, John Farnsworth that a Standard Motor Co. Prototype dumper truck was being offered for sale in one of the tractor magazines. After taking down the details I made contact with Robert Thompson who is based near Alcaster: he gave me a bit of background to this machine which he had owned and used for about twelve years: we agreed on a price but it was up to me to collect. This I did, tying the collection in with the AGCO press release concerning the relocation of the Massey Ferguson Banner Lane collection.

When I collected this prototype dumper, Robert was able to give the name and phone number of the previous owner, Bill Davies. In due course I made contact with him and it is him who we have to thank for most of the basic history of these machines. Let us first look at the background of this project before going onto review the specifications. Why should a major car and tractor manufacturer consider building dumper trucks? Well, they did a prototype 4×4 vehicle with perhaps the idea of competing with Land Rover in the late 40’s.

The vehicle code named FGPV (Farmers General Purpose Vehicle) named Langard: looks a bit like an Austin Champ. They also produced some prototype tractors of their own, an early one is here in the Coldridge Collection, sadly missing its commission number, another late one in Robert Crawfors Collection, Serial No. X678.

I was told by ex-Standard Motor Co. employee, Ron Easterbrook that a batch of 12 of these dumpers were made for export to Israel but the order was cancelled at the last minute. Bill Davies recalls all 12 were sold to a Coventry Building contractor and eventually one or two were sold off to Benfords. Who then dismantled them to evaluate their construction (seems a strange thing to do). Bill bought this example in 1968 to use in connection with his ready mixed concrete and concrete block making business. He used this dumper truck to deliver small batches of concrete to customers in the nearby town; hence his need to register it for road use. This was done on 12-12-69 with the Warwickshire County Council and given registration WAC 942H, which it still carries today.

The specification is as follows:
Engine; Single Petter Diesel. No. PHTT 393PHI, handstart.
According to Bill Davies three were fitted with Ruston diesel engines.
Clutch, Borg&Beck 9ins. Gearbox, 4 forward & reverse syncromesh directly from Triumph Herald.
Propellor shaft, Hardy Spicer, one piece.
Front axle, Triumph diff unit with power fed into reduction dropper boxes.
Brake, internal expanding hydraulically operated with separate mechanical operation of park brake by Girling.
Front tyre 750×16 traction type. Rear tyres, ribbed.
The rear axle and steering, fabricated beam with central pivot point. The hub swivels are taken from the Herald parts bin and carry the road wheels but no brakes.
Steering; fitted with Ferguson TEF20 type steering wheel, as is the driver’s seat pan.
The skip holds about 1 cu.yd of material and is mechanically tipped and off counter balanced design with a pair of springs to absorb shock loads when tipping.

All in all, a robust little dumper – would just need a rollover frame and a flashing beacon to bring it inline with todays Health & Safety requirements, plus a few other warning stickers!

I would be delighted to hear from anyone who can shed more light on this story; please give me a ring on 07966 328600.

Thank you – © Mike Thorne, 2021.

First published in Club Journal No. 54, Winter 2006/7

Making the Large Tractor Experimental (LTX) Scale Model

Making the Large Tractor Experimental (LTX) Scale Model

I am writing this article in response to a request from Alan Dunderdale, Editor of The Ferguson Club Journal November 2000.

Revised and updated June 2015

LTX Prototype and prototype Ferguson BMC tractors at Harry Ferguson’s estate, Abbotswood, in the Cotswolds.

Being a keen Ferguson collector for about 35 years now, although my enthusiasm for the man and his tractors goes back to 1953 when I was 15 years old and drove “my” first Ferguson – a TED20 that had either a post hole digger swinging on the 3 point linkage or towing a three ton tipping trailer. It was not surprising that the first tractor I bought when I started collecting in 1985, was a TED20. The passion and interest grew rapidly, as it often does – and it was not long before I had given to me a hardback copy of ‘Harry Ferguson – Inventor and Pioneer’ by Colin Fraser. From this excellent piece of writing, I learnt a lot by reading and re-reading and still do.

It was from Colin Fraser’s work, that I first came across the LTX project. What struck me was it was the most obvious development of the TE20, but really sad that no more than 6 prototypes were produced before the whole project was cancelled by the MH boys at the time of the merger. For a while I really thought there might be the odd LTX lurking around somewhere in the Midlands, but after enquiring around it became clear that they had all been destroyed.

Gradually, the idea turned in my mind – “well if none exist why not build a life size replica”. I had read in one of Alan Condies books on Ferguson, that an LTX had been fitted with a Perkin L4 engine (but was not the case), so at least the engine could be obtained, possibly from an old MH780 combine.

Then I began to think about the cost of producing patterns for all the parts, gears, small components etc. Needless to say, the dream quickly faded away. Well – not quite! The obvious solution was to produce a scale model and why not make it a limited edition – say 50 so that other Ferguson enthusiasts could share in the fun if they wished. In fact the 1st edition ran to 50 pieces but with so many enthusiasts wanting a model LTX I went on to produce a 2nd edition model that ran to 70 pieces. It should be mentioned here that the first edition featured the styled version as it would have gone into production. The second edition had a bonnet style similar to the TE 20 range.

Before I proceed with my voyage of discovery on the LTX trail, I should mention that around 1944-45, Ford were experimenting with a larger version of the Ford Ferguson. A few prototypes were produced and P4 (possibly Prototype No. 4) was shipped to the UK for evaluation by the Ferguson Engineering Team. So in a way this early work by the Ford people was the precursor to the British built LTX Tractors.

The next turning point for me was how to start the ball rolling and find out as much detail as possible before approaching Paul Dimmock of Somerset, a talented pattern maker who generally specialises in producing patterns for model locomotives. Paul has an interesting background in his career – artist, draughtsman, camera mechanic, motorcycle mechanic and model maker.

LTX Model 1/18th scale, Overall length 177mm, width 100mm : 7″ x 4″.

I made contact with Paul in the first instance as a result of Brian Salter (Transport of Delight) who specialises in the production of model Land Rovers especially odd ball versions like fire engines, breakdown trucks and hydraulic access platforms. Brian and I had met earlier at Dunsfold Land Rovers run by the Bushell family – the Mecca for all serious Land Rover people. I had been to one of their events, my friend Robin Haughton and I had put together, based on a coil sprung, a modern version of a forward control 130-crew cab truck. Brian Salter was interested in photographing the three Land Rover hydraulic access platforms I had at the time in my fleet with the idea of producing a scale model of one for sale in limited numbers and Paul Dimmock was to be the model maker. There is one of these models in the Coldridge Collection.

Having found the maker I now needed to find as much detailed information as possible on the LTX tractor, but how?

Back in 1998, I had been to Kerala, Southern India, on a fortnight’s yoga holiday and got talking to a couple who now live in Exeter, but had lived and worked in Leamington Spa as a dentist. We were talking not about yoga postures but about my interest in Ferguson and tractors.

He told me that a client of his who had become good friends had recently retired from a lifetime’s work with MF in a senior role of Products and Development Engineer – none other than club member Erik Fredrieksen. Erik had been to the collection earlier, so I gave him a ring to see what he knew about the LTX. Well at that time he was working again for MF albeit part-time and putting together a history of the firm for their website so he was digging about in their archives. He also knew quite a number of the men who live in the Midlands and were involved with the LTX project, namely Alex Paterson, Dick Dowdeswell, Nigel Liney, Colin Stevenson, Jack Biddy and Nibby Newbold, and Derrick Hiatt whose farm at Ufton had been used for most of the field testing.

Erik kindly, and on my behalf, set up a series of appointments with these men, spread over a period of two days.

Two night’s bed and breakfast was booked for me in a super barn conversion near Erik’s home. This establishment was owned by John and Rodi Hancock. Rodi, a super Dutch lady and John – a retired farmer – naturally one evening we got talking about tractors and it transpired that he had driven an LTX on his farm. In fact, Ferguson had from time to time used his farm as a field test site. His remark was “It (LTX) was a wonderful tractor. It even had a diff lock operated by a long lever on the right hand side” – his arm moving in a gesture of engaging in diff lock: what a coincidence to stay at a B & B and the owner had driven just the tractor I had come to research – a good omen I thought.

Next day Erik and I set out early on a whistle stop tour that he had planned with true Ferguson precision – ending at 10 o’clock at night! During those two hectic days, I had the privilege of meeting the members of the LTX team I mentioned earlier. I’ll try and deal with each person in the order that Erik had set up on this tour and with each in turn giving the information they were able to provide me with.

First port of call was Nigel Liney who had been involved as a Field Test driver and luckily for me he had always been a keen photographer, so over coffee out came his album of the LTX project and some interesting shots like the one of him standing next to an upside down TE20 fitted with a Perkins P3 engine and plough he had been driving flat out. “We never bothered to slow down at the headlands to turn – just up with the hydraulic lever, flick the steering wheel round and stamp on the independent brake” but the taller P3 engine made the centre of gravity a bit higher hence the result! Nigel went on to talk about the LTX from his view.

It was a fantastic tractor he mentioned to me about the kick back through the steering on rough ground and complained about its operation to the man who designed it – who offered to come and try for himself. Nigel thoughtfully warned him not to fight the steering; the designer did not heed his advice and was pulled off the tractor seat and spread down the bonnet!

Whilst on the subject of steering, next day when I was with Farmer Derrick Hiatt, he recalled the time when one of his tractor drivers was using the LTX, he failed to keep his thumbs out of the steering wheel and suffered a dislocated thumb and was off work for a few days. Nigel went on to tell me about his experience with trailer testing – a purpose built trailer loaded with 5-6 ton of stone they used to take to the top of some steep hill in the Cotswolds doing a hill start on the way up, and on the way down they would engage a low gear but keep the clutch depressed and come down virtually free wheeling and then try out the tractors and trailers brakes if they failed the emergency back-up was to let the clutch out and hope and pray that you did not rip the centre out of the clutch as one could do on the TE20!

Another interesting point Nigel spoke about was that when Ferguson were trying out different makes of diesel engines for the TE20, they tried Perkin P3 – the Standard Motor Co 23c with combustion chamber developed by Freeman Sander (who also did work for Lister by the way) also tried a Meadows diesel engine especially built for prototype testing. One survives in the Coldridge Collection.

Nigel kept harping back to the amazing pulling power of the LTX tractor, which he attributed to the well-designed hydraulics and a torque diesel engine.

Next point of call was Jack Biddy (we were already running behind schedule surprise surprise!) who ran the field testing team, which was a tough assignment as testing was broken down into 2 x 8 hour shifts, 6-2 and 2 –10 and this went on for about 3 years mostly at Hiatts Farm of heavy blue clay. Jack told me how special large implements were developed to go with the LTX. 5 furrow 10” plough, 3 furrow 16” plough, heavy cultivators and the 5 ton trailer already mentioned.

Jack recalled how he was asked by HF to prepare a demonstration of the LTX for the MH people just prior to the merger. Harry Ferguson’s intention was to show how poor the MH766 was in relation to the LTX. They found a steep field of heavy clay and had it coated with a liberal dressing of farmyard manure to make sure it was really slippery. Needless to say the MH766 could hardly move whereas the LTX with a 3-furrow 16” plough and a clutch operated diff lock just flew along!

Again Jack was full of praise for the tractor and the performance of its engines whether petrol or diesel. Jack later after leaving Ferguson became a test engineer for Rover Cars with a team of about 10 people helping in that area.  Another point he told me about was that he was involved with Ferguson was the development of a prototype plough spanner which was produced as a one off by Churchill Tools and patented.

LTX Photographs, with ‘Ferguson Spanner’

It has long leverage for undoing and less leverage for tightening and when folded fitted neatly in the TE 20’s tool box! At a later date on one of his trips to the Coldridge Collection, he gave me the spanner – a much-appreciated gesture.

Our next and last call for the day was to Derrick Hiatts farm. A 620-acre farm at Ufton in Warwickshire – the land of blue clay, and as was mentioned earlier, the site used for most of the field-testing. As we sat around the kitchen table of the warm farmhouse, Derrick told me how his father had allowed Ferguson to use their farm as a testing ground – “a cheap way of getting most of the ploughing done” was his comment.

He was a young lad of 14-15 when this testing started in 1949, but his memory of the tractor and its performance is very vivid for it was at Hiatts farm that one LTX survived, escaping the fate of the other 5 in 1954 when they were destroyed by MHF. Derrick spoke with affection of “their”LTX, a diesel version which they used regularly doing 500 hours a year of hard work with great reliability and was only sent back to MF a few times for small repairs. He told me the only problem he can remember as the tractor began to wear out it developed a habit of slipping out of 2nd gear – they got over this problem by the simple expedient of jamming the gear lever in 2nd by using none other than a Ferguson spanner (not part of its original design concept I’m sure). One day in 1970 Derrick contacted MF asking them to collect the tractor as the clutch needed repairing. They took the tractor away and according to Derrick Hiatt, they destroyed it. He was incensed. Thirty years later, telling this story, I could detect the emotion in his voice.

I told him about the model I planned to produce – he said “I’ll have one whatever the cost – the LTX was a fantastic tractor”. A pretty positive comment from a shrewd farmer, and having been involved with the farming community for over forty years, I had never had a farmer before make such an utterance. I crept in very late at the Hancocks Barn conversion.

Next day Erik and I set off early and full of resolve to keep to the time-scale of his itinerary, calling first on Colin Stevenson (Stevie).

Stevie had been a field tester joining the others rather late in the programme. He went on at length about the pulling power of the engine, the amazing traction that was achieved with the hydraulic linkage and the fact that the LTX was fitted with a mechanical lift locking arrangement to take the strain off the hydraulics when heavy implements were transported.

A quick detour to MF Stoneleigh to get some of the small photographs Nigel had kindly lent me enlarged on their computer system. I should mention at this point, after writing initially to Jim Newbold of MF for their permission to produce a model LTX, they have been most helpful in a number of ways including the use of some of their archive photographs. This was most appreciated for were it not for their help and the co-operation of all the various people mentioned, this dream would never have become a reality.

Our next stop was Alex Paterson, a man originally from Northern Ireland who had been with HF as a manager of the experimental workshop. He told Erik and myself how he was asked at a meeting in 1948 with HF, John Chambers and Alex Senkowski and possibly Bill Harrow, to put together a costing for the production of 4 tractors and 2 sets of spare parts. Alex Paterson asked for specification drawings and was told there weren’t any! Anyway after a lot of argee bargee, a date was set for April 14th. Alex told me the concept was to develop a big Fergie with the transmission designed to be able to handle engine power output of up to 100HP (good future planning!). The engines were to be made on the unit principle so engines could be built in 2,3,4,5 and 6 cylinder configurations, designed so that the basic engine could be built to run on petrol, TVO or diesel (rather like Ford did with their early New Majors). Alex Paterson explained that Senkowski was responsible for transmission and hydraulic design, (he came from a background in the aircraft industry) and Bill Harrow was responsible for engine development (he came from the Daimler Bus Co.) and had developed a successful range of high speed diesel engines (to use a buzz phrase of that period!). Anyway Bill Harrows designs must have been pretty successful because everyone we spoke to was very positive about the performance and characteristics of these engines and their low fuel consumption.

Unfortunately he suffered a nervous breakdown towards the end of the development project – my guess was that it was due to his conscientious nature and perhaps the pressure under which he was working and decided to leave Harry Ferguson Ltd. Alex told us of the problems of obtaining the required materials at that time and the problems of getting component manufacturers to produce them as “one-offs” at a time when everyone in the automotive trade was very busy getting production flowing following the wartime restrictions of cars and trucks. Alex Paterson told us how the firm who were commissioned to produce the rear diff, somehow got an extra tooth on the pinion wheel so it would not mesh with the crown wheel, that sort of thing. When they got the pre-production model together with the new styling of sheet metal work, nobody could agree on the badge on the front of the bonnet, so he went to Woolworth’s and bought some wooden alphabets to make up the name Ferguson and stuck them across the bonnet (as you can see on the model made by Paul Dimmock). Alex Paterson had lots more to tell, but space here is restricted, so we said our farewells and headed off towards Nibby Newbolds home.

Nibby was the mechanic for the LTX development team and when I called at his old peoples bungalow on Sunday evening, I asked “what have you been doing today Nibby?”.

“Helping a friend dig the foundations for his garage” he replied. Not bad at 82!

Before we got down to talking about the LTX, Nibby said to me “You must be interested in models, would you like to see some of mine – I make boats you know. I’ve made one from down your way – a Plymouth Coastal Patrol Boat”. Well, I was delighted to be shown at least 3 of his models. The Patrol boat was about 4ft long with electric drive and radio controlled. Next was even bigger – an aircraft carrier which must have been 6ft again all working and all scratch built. What an amazing man, 82 and still producing working things with vigour and enthusiasm.

Time was going on, so we had to turn Nibby’s focus back to the purpose of our visit i.e. the LTX on which he had been the mechanic. I was a bit vague about the build up at the rear axle. Did it have epicyclic reduction hubs like MF65 or did it have bull gears like Fordson Major?

Nibby remembered it having bull gears because there was a problem of getting them out for inspection. He also told us about a diesel engine that was sent to C.A.V. for injection equipment testing and development, an engine came back to Fergusons with varnish in the sump!. He confirmed quite a few of the points told to us by other members of the team, like it had a 3 cylinder hydraulic pump, a 2 speed P.T.O. driven through a two stage clutch; another Ferguson innovation I believe.

By now it was 10.30 on a Sunday night. We shook hands and smiled all round and took our leave.

LTX prototype next to a MH tractor at Banner lane.

Next day after a latish start and some more conversation with the Hancocks, I set off back to Devon, but one more call on the way back. This time to visit Dick & Beryl Dowdeswell at Temple Gluiton, and what a warm welcome I had there.

I had spoken to Dick some two years earlier about his experiences of being on the LTX project and all his years of demonstrating Ferguson and MF equipment worldwide.

Dick had developed quite a legend for himself as being a most competent destroyer of machines (known to his mates as the Wrecker), so it was a wise decision of John Chambers to have him on the testing team. He had already told me a while ago how he had managed to rip the bars off the covers of the rear tyres, so for Dunlop or Goodyear it was back to the drawing board and to come up with a stronger rear tyre design which they did. Dick again spoke at length about the tractors amazing performance, which he attributed to the pulling power of the engine and the balance of the hydraulic system plus the fact that the diff lock was of the clutch type and could safely be engaged on the move.

Dick told me how they used to snatch pull small trees out with a chain when all the ploughing was done. He told me how he was trapped under a tractor that was being used for winching (a near miss) and lots lots more besides, like demonstrating the Ferguson wraparound combine to several farmers.

Well driving back to Devon, my mind was racing away photos, loads of scruffy notes and so much information. I just had to get this sorted out before I drove up to Watchet to discuss it all with Paul Dimmock. I think even he was a bit scared of the task that lay ahead. After all, his locomotive models are all based on freely available detailed working drawings from the days when the locos were made. We only had photographs and luckily one of the LTX next to Fordson Major and one next to a Ferguson FE35, so that helped enormously with the scale.

Well, Paul looked at all these photographs and notes and said in his laid back way – “Well I have never done this before but I need the work and I’ll taken on the challenge”. I breathed a sigh of relief. We talked about costing and made notes. It was not too frightening, but I did double up Paul’s estimate for his time. Just as well, because these things in my experience always take longer than we like to think and there invariably a few problems.

Following that, Paul soon produced a scale working drawing and got underway the patterns of all the individual parts that make up the model – 70 in all. I lent him a Ferguson TE20 parts book and a model Fordson Major and TE20 to give him a bit more insight. The nett result was all very positive, so that within a few weeks, Paul had produced the masters in resin and brass for my inspection. Well, I was not qualified to inspect them, but I did need to check them out with the “boys” up in the Midlands who worked on the LTX project. The last thing you want when producing a model, is to get it all made up and show it to someone only to be told “well that’s not quite right” or “this lever should be on the other side” etc etc.

So with this aim in mind, Erik kindly arranged another of his whistle stop tours and booked me in at Hancocks super B & B.

Well, out of that trip around, there were only 2-3 minor modifications needed to meet the approval of all these gentlemen who had worked on the project, and that was good enough for me.

Model case, with photographs to RH side

Erik kindly asked if I would like him to write the booklet to go with the model and arrange for it to be produced by MF publishing department. I must say, I was delighted when Erik read the proof to me over the phone, that he had started the booklet by saying “This booklet is dedicated to all Ferguson Staff past and present, who were involved in the LTX Project”. That is exactly what I would have written for I feel this limited edition model is a monument to those guys. What a pity it never went into production. It would have made mincemeat of the Fordson Major!

Let the last words of this article be said by Derrick Hiatt from a letter he wrote to me on 26th April 2000.
“I really am pleased and honoured to be of the few to own such a model.
What a pity I didn’t hold on to the real thing, but this model will give me
Many happy memories” © M Thorne November 2000

PS Since this was written I have acquired a copy of the Ferguson Specification Data booklet dated… well as a full size working drawing of the diesel engine dated….. These along with the models can be viewed at the Coldridge Collection.

© Mike Thorne (Journal 36 Winter 2000, updated 2015)