Meadows Engine Ferguson TE-D 20 Pt.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.