Willie Carson takes a look at the superb, just-restored Ferguson TE-F belonging to Jonny and William Haire.
Do you really need a reason (or should that be an excuse) to buy a wee grey Ferguson? Jonny Haire and his father William certainly found grounds to justify their purchase. “We have a collection of stationary engines, mainly Lister D types. The interest in engines started after a visit to the Shanes Castle Steam Rally, and has grown from the first – a ‘D’ with a 50-volt generator,” says William. Jonny then explained how that led to the ‘need’ for a tractor.
“We have limited access to the back yard, so have to cross the field behind the shed and, in wet weather, that’s not really ideal, so we decided to look for a Ferguson tractor. There was a TE-F 20 advertised in The Dealer, so we went to see it one evening and ended up buying it. But, in hindsight, we should have walked away. The tractor didn’t have a starter, but it did start with a tow, and it ran well enough without smoking, so we thought that there couldn’t be much wrong, and bought it.”
“We bought a new starter motor and fitted it,” continued Jonny, “but the engine remained hard to start. We took the head off and reground the valves to see if that would improve things, but it made little difference. So, next we decided to have the engine reconditioned. When we cleaned it up it with the power washer, the diesel started to run out of every part of the fuel system – it was like a teabag. The dirt was the only thing blocking the holes, so we pushed it into the shed while I collected the parts needed for the restoration.”
With help from his friend, David Forbes, Jonny stripped the Standard 20C diesel power unit, cleaned all the parts, and completed the rebuild before fitting a complete clutch kit. The gearbox was in good order, with no alarming noises and a positive action on the lever, especially in the reverse/start gate, so all that it needed was a good clean. Turning his attention to the back axle, Jonny fitted new differential and half-shaft bearings, together with new half-shaft oil seals.
Experienced TE 20 restorers will, no doubt, sympathise with Jonny and the extreme measures needed to dismantle the hydraulic system and the three-point linkage. “We removed the top cover and had a session with the gas bottles and the sledge, to drive the cross shaft out of the upper arms. The knuckles were incredibly stubborn, so more heating and hammering was needed before the pins came out. We shouldn’t really have been surprised because the tractor had come from a village by the sea, and was used to bring turf home from the bog. It hadn’t enjoyed an easy life.
The castings had been worn oval by the pins, so Jonny took them to a man who bored them out to round again, then turned a set of new bushings. “The levelling box was reconditioned,” Jonny added, “and there were new pins for the lower arms fitted into the trumpet housings. There was a lot of wear in the ends of the arms, and we could have fitted complete new aftermarket arms, but wanted to keep the originality that comes with the casting profile of the old arms. So, we bought new arms, cut off the ends and welded them on to the old ones.
“In the top cover, we had to put new seals on the piston in the hydraulic ram, and fit a new rod into the draft-control spring, although we were able to reuse the old ‘T’ piece. The hydraulic pump was completely reconditioned with new pistons and seals, and I found a new, old stock top link pin and a good second hand long pin.”
With the back half of the skid unit completed, it was time for Jonny and William to concentrate on the engine ancillaries. “I found a good, original fuel tank which we treated with POR 15 sealer,” Jonny explained. “The radiator was re-cored, and we bought new hoses and period wire hose clips, and had the screws re-profiled to the correct dome-headed shape.
“The starter and the Lucas C39 dynamo were reconditioned locally. The tractor is fitted with two batteries – one mounted either side of the seat – but the one on the right was found to be an old and dead, six-volt unit. All the work was being done by the 12V battery on the left. It keeps the original look with the reliability of modern equipment. The covers are original Lucas Bakelite parts. The ammeter is NOS, and the oil pressure gauge was a good second hand buy.”
The Atlantic sea air had taken its inevitable toll on the wheel rims, so Jonny had to find an original, riveted set of fronts and rears. Once they’d been reconditioned, the search began for tyres to complete the period look. Fortunately, parts specialist, Bertie Dunlop, happened to be selling a set of period Goodyears, so they were purchased and fitted, which completed another important stage of the restoration project.
Of course, a Ferguson tractor needs a Ferguson implement, and there is such a long list from which to choose that books have been written on the subject. Jonny came across a banana-loader (a High Lift Loader, to give it the official designation) which was for sale and promptly did the deal, allowing him to fit one of the most sought-after implements in the catalogue.
“I went to see Colin Taylor to buy some tractor parts, and ended up coming home with the loader. There were a few pins missing, and the bottom was rusted out of the bucket but, other than that, it was pretty-much complete.” The mounting brackets were for a TED chassis, so he had to find the correct bracket for the diesel tractor and, since the TE 20 hydraulic system doesn’t flow oil to any external services if the lift arms reach to top of their arc, he needed a ‘T’ bar to limit the travel.
When the main components needed to build the loader were sourced, the issue of the missing pins was addressed. “There was a lot of wear in the pivot points, so I had the holes bored-out to sound metal, and bushes made to allow standard-diameter pins to fit. Then I had new pins made in EN18 steel, and turned with the correct, mushroom-domed heads, before they were bright zinc-plated. The selector valve, on the left side of the seat, needed new seals and all the hoses were replaced with period-correct fittings crimped on to the ends. All the parts were blasted and painted before the loader was built up once again.”
Jonny and William were turning their tractor into much more than just another ‘wee grey Ferguson’, but the project didn’t stop there. “The tractor came with an upright exhaust, but I sourced an original, Ferguson down-swept system. The bend is much smoother than on the pattern pipes. It all adds to the overall character of the rebuild. When it came to choosing a lighting system, the ‘Cyclops’ headlamp is the only one that fits with the loader. The Lucas ‘King of the Road’ kit comes with the FT57 headlight, LD 109 side lights on folding arm, and the AT 102 tail/number plate light. There’s a two-pin socket integral with the number plate bracket, and I fitted a Lucas ploughing lamp with the period-correct change-over switch. I made my own looms with cloth bindings; one for the tractor and the other for the lighting kit using the Lucas fitting instructions as a guide.
“I’ve tried to keep everything to the original specification where possible and, finding the correct parts took time, but I’m happy with the final result,” says Jonny, summing up his dedication to this restoration. “It’s a bit of a beast on the road; the steering takes a bit of effort, and it feels top-heavy without a counter weight, but it’s all been worth it.” So, if you’ve been inspired by what Jonny and William have done (and who wouldn’t be?), all you need to do is find a tractor, and an excuse to buy it!
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