The FE-35 Letter Code


The following short article concerns Serial Numbers for the FE-35 range of tractors. The codes for the commission plate numbers are to be found in the workshop manual. The engine codes should be available in some service bulletins or even from Massey Ferguson. I believe the following analysis to be accurate but it is drawn from observations made here in Jersey over the years. As far as I can ascertain, the system of code letters on commission plates and engine blocks is similar, although different letters are used on each. There does not appear to be a direct link between numerals, other than that lower serial numbers are usually reflected as lower engine numbers. As a result, if the commission plate is missing from the tractor, it is not possible to gain a very accurate idea of the tractor’s age from the engine number alone


This is found on the lower right side of the dash board, next to the ignition key. On it will be found (if still legible) patent numbers in force at the time the tractor was built. Stamped at the bottom is the tractor serial number, which is comprised of three or four letters followed by the production number.

First Letter
This denotes the type of tractor, namely:
standard agricultural (the majority), vineyard, industrial, high clearance:

Tractor type
Standard agricultural: Code letter S
Vineyard: Code letter V
Industrial: Code letter J
High clearance: Code letter C

Second letter
This denotes the type of engine: petrol, vaporising oil, lamp oil, diesel:
Engine type: Compression ratio
Petrol: 6:1  Code G
High altitude petrol: 6.6:1 Code H
Vaporising oil: 5:1 Code K
Lamp oil: 4.3:1 Code L
Diesel: 23C (4 cylinder): 20.1 Code D
Diesel: Perkins A3.152: 17.4: 1 Code N

Third letter
This denotes the type of clutch and therefore gearbox details:
Clutch type
Single clutch: Code letter F
Dual clutch:  Code letter M

Fourth letter
This denotes special features:
Differential lock: Code Y

On spark ignition engines, the numbers are to be found on the left side of the engine between the oil filler cap and the coil. This practice was continued through from the first TEA-20s. On the 23C diesel engine (as with the TEF-20 before it) the number is on the right side of the block, at the front, beneath the manifold and above the dynamo.

Prefix letters
There are two prefix letters. All engines which I have seen have S as the first letter. This is followed by:
Engine type:
Petrol: Code letter SF
T.V.O.: Code letter SG
L.O.: Code letter SH
23C: Code letter SJ

After these two letters come the engine production numbers. Lastly come the suffix letters.

Suffix letters
Petrol engines have three. All other engines have two. an all engines the first letter after the numerals is an E, denoting an engine number and the very last letter in the sequence denotes clutch type:
Clutch type
Single clutch S
Dual clutch D

Thus, engine numbers/letters on T.V.O., L.O. and 23C blocks all end in either ES or ED. Petrol engines have an extra letter between E and S or O.
Engine type: Code letters
Petrol, standard compression 6: 1 E L
Petrol, high compression 6.6:1 E H

Thus petrol engine numbers/letters all end in one of the following: ELS or EHS for a single clutch
and ELO or EHD for a dual clutch.

With reference to the 35s fitted with Perkins engines, as yet I haven’t seen enough examples of numbers to determine a logic. Also, I believe, some 35s capable of running on butane gas were built but I do not have any details of serial numbers.

Some “living” examples:

Commission plate: SGF61182
Engine number: SF9944ELS

From the commission plate we can deduce that this is a standard (S) petrol (G) single clutch (F) tractor. The engine number tells us that it is petrol (F) 6: 1 compression ratio (L) and has a single clutch and corresponding flywheel (S).

Commission plate: SHM324792
Engine number: SF40638EHD

The commission plate tells us that this is a standard (S) high altitude petrol (H) dual clutch (M) tractor. The engine number denotes petrol (F) 6.6: 1 compression ratio (H) and a dual clutch (M) with corresponding flywheel (D).

Commission plate: SKM 252026
Engine number: SG11519EO

The commission plate states that this is a standard agricultural tractor (S) T.V.O. (K) and dual clutch (M). The engine number tells us that it is T.V.O. (G) and has a dual clutch (D).

Commission plate: SDM12847
Engine number: SJ8734ED

We can see from the commission plate that this is a standard tractor (S) with a 23C diesel engine (D) fitted with a dual clutch (M). The engine number shows (J) for 23C diesel, fitted with dual clutch (D).

Commission plate: SNMY375106
Engine number: 19D6821C

This is a standard tractor (S) with a Perkins A 3.152 engine (N) a dual clutch (M) and a differential lock (Y). As mentioned earlier I cannot tie in the engine number on the Perkins diesels.

The TE-20 range of serial numbers was distributed to all club members about five years ago in the form of a booklet produced by Massey Ferguson. It may still be possible for individual members to obtain a copy by writing directly to the M. F. Sales Support Centre. Finally, with reference to FE-35 decals, our tractor SGF89374 engine no SF13127ELS, is an early example of the red and grey colour scheme but I am afraid that the bonnet has been repainted, the decals having been scraped off.

Raoul Le Miere, St. Lawrence, Jersey

Published in Journal No. 24 Winter 1996/97