Meadows Engine Ferguson TE-D 20 Pt.1

Meadows Engine Ferguson TE-D 20:

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