1947 Fordson E27N tractor

Posted by Chris Graham on 25th April 2021

Andrew Naughton brought his 1947 Fordson E27N tractor back to life, by finishing a restoration that had been started 41 years ago!

1947 Fordson E27N tractor

Andrew Naughton with his restored 1947 Fordson E27N tractor, finally ready for action!

Andrew is following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, and has become the owner of a vintage tractor. His restored 1947 Fordson E27N now stands proudly alongside his father’s Ferguson 20 and his grandfather’s Dexta.

1947 Fordson E27N tractor

Andrew is still awaiting the outcome of the local tax office’s search regarding the tractor’s original registration number.

He bought the tractor in August 2019, at the tender age of 16. “It was formerly owned by a vintage enthusiast from County Roscommon, in Southern Ireland,” he explained. “He’d started the restoration way back in September, 1980, but sadly died before he could finish it. I acquired it from his brother, on the agreement that it be fully restored, and that he could see it one more time when it was done.”

1947 Fordson E27N tractor

There was plenty of work to do on the Fordson, but at least it had a full set of new, Vredestein tyres.

On the plus side
However, Andrew soon found the Fordson was missing a lot of parts, and that it hadn’t been put back together properly. But on the plus side, it did have a brand new set of Vredestein tyres. “When I bought the tractor, the distributor cap was missing,” he said. “So, I fitted one and turned the engine to see if there was a spark, but there was nothing. So, the I thought that the magneto may need to be rewound. As that’s a complicated job – and I had no experience with it – I decided to send the mag away to an expert in Northern Ireland, John Donnelly, of Co Tyrone.

1947 Fordson E27N tractor

Shot-blasting revealed the original registration number underneath numerous coats of paint.

“He completed the work for me, supplied a new distributor cap, and tested it for 11 hours on a testing table. He also cleaned the outer housing, cut the cables to length and crimped them. Once I got it back, I tested it myself and it was sparking perfectly, so was ready for work.”

1947 Fordson E27N tractor

The Fordson parked between Andrew’s father’s Ferguson 20 (left) and his grandfather’s Dexta (right), completing three tractors from three different decades; the 1940s, ‘50s and 60s.

Mechanical work
Andrew stripped the tractor back to the bare chassis, then split it into three sections. “I replaced the troublesome back end-to-gearbox seal,” he explained, “and did the half shaft and pulley wheel seals, too. I also installed new, anti-rattle springs in the clutch release bearing.

The mudguards were badly corroded and in dire need of repair.

“After that I removed the tombstone then rebored and bushed it for the axle. Eamonn Finnegan, from Co Roscommon, relined the kingpins for me, and I replaced the bearings in the front wheels. Once everything was back together, I focused on the panels, and replaced the centres of the mudguards, while Allyn Hanlon repaired the fuel tank.

The mudguard centres were remade with the help of John Flatherty. He cut them out using a plasma cutter, replaced them, then beat the rivets to give an aged look. He then gave them a coat of 2K primer, and test-fitted them.

“I decided the best thing to do was to get it running before I resprayed it. So, with the help of two local experts – Johnathan Regan and Simon Coffee who timed the engine and brought a starter motor – and then, for the first time in almost 50 years, the Fordson’s engine ran again.

The seals in the half-shafts were replaced as they were badly corroded. Andrew took out the whole shaft, pushed off the old seal and pushed on the new ones on a bearing press. There was also one wheel stud missing on the hub, so that was replaced and marked ‘L’ with a punch as all the other studs on that side have a right-hand thread.

Surprise, surprise!
“With this done, I then set about shot-blasting and spraying the tinwork. I did the shot-blasting myself and, while doing so, made an interesting discovery. I found that the tractor’s original registration number was hidden under many coats of paint. So  I got that number printed on vintage plates, then applied to the local tax office to search for the tax book; I’m still awaiting a response.

The tombstone that holds the front axle. The centre pin was worn into an oblong shape, so it was taken to local engineer Eamon Finnegan, who rebored the hole and made a bushing for it. He then found the wear in the back side was bigger than the front, so he made a special, stepped pin on the lathe to suit it. Andrew also replaced the crankshaft seal and then coated it with gasket maker and refitted the tombstone.

“I primed everything using 2K epoxy, then applied a 2K acrylic finish on top of that. The centres were taken out of the wheels for painting and bolted back with high-grade stainless steel bolts, supplied by Cannas McGovern, in Dublin. I then completely re-assembled it, retimed the engine and sourced my own starter motor. Finally came the day, on Christmas Eve in 2020, when the E27N set off on its maiden voyage!”

Andrew removed the kingpins to replace the bearings, then Eamonn Finnegan relined them on the lathe to ensure perfectly-balanced steering.

Andrew has put together a video of the Fordson E27N’s restoration, so if you’d like to see more of the project , simply click here

1947 Fordson E27N tractor

The tractor after receiving a 2K acrylic top coat in the spray booth. All the holes were plugged for blasting and spraying, and all the other parts were stripped-off to be sprayed individually, to achieve a better finish. The paint was allowed to cure for 72 hours before starting reassembly.

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