From the Chair August / September 2020 for Issue 98
Tractors are very like people they have
their own characters, foibles and in some cases very annoying habits. One thing
they abhor is neglect, be it maintenance
or simply lack of use, standing outside or tucked away in a shed does them no good at all. Damp gets into electrical connections, condensation forms in fuel tanks, tyres deflate, batteries go flat the list is endless. Most of this can be avoided by simply using them, so at the very least start her up and if possible, go for a run. There have been no events for a while now and the rest of this year does not look promising so too many machines have already spent too long just parked up
I have been warning about degradation of fuel for some time and the other day I sold a tractor and went to start it just to check it over before the chap picked it up. That is when things started going sharply downhill despite a freshly charged battery it refused to talk to me and worse than that, no smoke came from the exhaust. So, I bled it and tried again, no joy as it had a DPA pump the injector unions were cracked, dry as a bone; bled it again and cranked the engine administering a few sharp taps in the appropriate place, still nothing at the injectors. 'Phoned my diesel man Peter, he has been doing my diesel work for well over forty years and had rebuilt the pump a few years back, only
to find that the poor man had had a stroke and had to retire.
Steve who was recommended to me was a few miles in the other direction and was prepared to have a look at it, they had both been with the same Bury St Edmunds company back in the seventies.
A few days later the pump was delivered to him and I picked it up a couple of days
after that. He said modern diesel fuel didn't last very long and that he was getting a lot of these problems now due to contaminated fuel, whereas before ethanol was added and sulphur levels reduced, as long as filters were kept clean you really didn't have to worry about old fuel 'going off'. That no longer seems to be the case. Admittedly the fuel had been in the tractor for at least four years, and although I
know that I would have added a lubricant to it, I don't recall if I had started using
a bactericide then, anyway the repair set me back £66 - 40p. I've drained the tank, the fuel was very 'brown and had bits in' and have changed the filters, now I just need to refit the pump.
I have since sampled some more diesel tanks and I'm pleased to be able to report that the fuel in these is not brown and has no bits floating about in it. It looks the
same slightly greenish shade as when bought and some had been in the tanks for over two years, it had had a lubricant and biocide added when it was poured in and that certainly appears to be working well.
Issued by the Driver and Vehicles
Standards Agency on 28th May
Coronavirus (COVID-19): annual test exemptions:
We have issued annual test exemptions to heavy vehicles which are due to have their annual test in June 2020. This includes vehicles that were originally
made exempt in March 2020. The exemptions have been applied automatically. You can use the MOT history service to check the expiry dates for your vehicles.
We are working towards resuming heavy vehicle testing in June. This involves
talking to our staff, ATFs, the industry and operators about how we can provide a service which is safe for all involved and helps the return to regular testing. Further information about our plans will be provided in due course.
Clarification: vehicle test exemptions
We recently sent an email alert concerning heavy vehicles due for annual test in June.
This did not clarify the period of the test exemption for these vehicles. Vehicles due for test in June will receive a three-month exemption from needing an annual test. This applies to vehicles which received a three-month exemption in March, as well
as those with a due date normally in June.
From Around the Country:
Dougie McNicoll's 24 Hour Charity
Ploughing Marathon, Roy Cowgill reports:
At 12 o'clock on Saturday 7th March, Dougie McNicoll started ploughing on Mr Gordon Nicholson's Welton Farm near Blairgowrie, driving a 1944 Standard Fordson with a 1930's Massey-Harris Trailing Plough. Dougie completed his marathon task at 12 o'clock on Sunday 8th March.
The many supporters on the site enjoyed a wide variety of ploughing through the ages with horses, vintage tractors, classic tractors, crawlers, and all the current tractor manufacturer's demonstrating in their plots. Ford & Fordson had a great Stand with three E27N's, two N's, a 7810 and a 1220, all from local club members. The Ironside family came down from Aberdeenshire to assist with the stand and take some special photos of the event. One of the most interesting was a 1919 F which had been lying in a quarry under 20 feet of water and assorted rubbish for 35 years since 1941. It had been recovered by a local diving club and after some work was now running again - still in original condition.
Opposite our stand was David Shaw with his Ford 8730 with the Ransomes push pull ploughs.
covering more ground in a few minutes than Dougie managed in a few hours! It just goes to show how things have changed in 50 years. Looking across at the tractor manufacturer's demonstration plots, another jump in technology could be seen with computer screens being used when setting up. Our thanks must go to Greg and Mark Wilkinson for all their help at the event. During his valiant ploughing marathon, Dougie raised over £15,000 in aid of Parkinson's Scotland.
Annual Autumn Working weekend:
Lynn Alcock writes. This is just a preliminary notice that we have decided to cancel the Working Weekend this year. As most of the volunteers and patrons fall into the "high risk" group for one reason or another (well we're all 10 years older than when we started!) it would be unfair to expose us unnecessarily to the contagion.
It is my intention to produce another Newsletter shortly but there is very little happening to report on. So I am appealing to everyone to let me have something to put in it, whether it's a project undertaken to while away the time in lockdown, completion of some renovation, even if it's just a couple of photos so that we can all keep in touch. For the future, hopefully we will be able to arrange a Christmas get together and try to carry on with a couple of events next Spring.
Andrew Green from Devon writes:
In the last issue I was writing about the uncertainties surrounding cancelled and rearranged shows and events. Well, sadly the virus has wiped out the entire season's activities and I have to say the prospects for a planned return to Autumn/Winter meetings and activities look rather doubtful at this stage. Perhaps we may be fortunate to have some road runs or open-air gatherings as a compromise, but time will tell.
So, I thought that I would write a little more about my nostalgia corner. Last issue I mentioned about the evolution of the Fordson F tractor which eventually ceased production in 1928 after ¾ million were made. It had become outdated and in danger of being left behind by the opposition and so it was replaced by the new Fordson, designated the Model N, although we often refer to it as the Standard Fordson. Initially production was set up in the Ford factory in Cork, Ireland until 1932 when it was transferred to the new plant that had been built at Dagenham. There were a number of tractors which were a combination of components assembled in Trafford, now known as 'Transitional', these were stamped with "Made in the Irish Free State". In the beginning the tractor was only available on steel wheels and initially was painted in grey with red wheels, the dark blue and orange livery emerged once production moved to Essex and cost £156. These are affectionately called the" water washers" because they had a water filled air cleaner which unfortunately caught out some drivers in frosty weather! After a fairly slow start, production leapt in the mid 1930's to around 10,000 tractors sold per annum.
In 1937, pressure from tractor salesmen resulted in a very striking new paint colour called Harvest Gold with an oil bath air cleaner and tweaks to the engine to up the power. The steel wheeled price had hardly changed but you could now buy your new tractor on rubber tyres for £195, this being known as the Land Utility model. With the outbreak of WW2, the production of tractors increased very significantly at the Government's order to increase food production, with over 20,000 units being built per annum throughout the war years. The other significant change was the paint colour, which was changed to dark green so that the finished tractors would not be so obvious to enemy bombers when lined up waiting to be shipped from the Dagenham factory. Also, the original wide wings were cut back to save on steel usage. Model N production then continued until 1945 when it was replaced by the E27N Major also called the High-Top Major.
With this article I am including some old photographs from my family farming days in Oxfordshire. My late father can be seen in action driving a Standard Fordson. From 1934, father is sat on the Standard pulling a land wheel driven potato spinner, perhaps a Lister Blackstone.
It's interesting to see the horse and cart which is collecting sacks of picked potatoes ready for transport to the long clamp or bury, which would be covered with straw and earth for long term storage. In the next picture dated 1934, father is seen scraping silt out of the farm pond.
Gerard Schoenmakers from The Netherlands says:
Its quiet on the Dutch front and because the virus is still active there is nothing to do with our tractors. So, it is back to the shed as I am retired now with plenty of time.
My E27N had no 3-point linkage, so looking on the internet I found a set not far from my home and usable for my gearbox. It looked like it had done little work with no play on the joints, it was easy to fit and looks good on the E27N. The next thing I found was a Ransomes FR PM three furrow plough designed for the E27N and it looks great.
I hope that we can plough this Autumn and I will try this combination out at the Dutch FFA ploughing match. Stay safe everybody better times will come.
Every now and again an interesting bit of kit turns up, some were produced commercially but a few are one-off machines often built for a specific purpose because nothing else was available or because of the cost of a proprietary product. Gary Capp has one of these that he has been working, he tells me that it is a bit of an animal to use and that its biggest fault is not having live hydraulics.
Gary relates it's history; the tractor came from a farm out near Skegness, Roughtons of Willoughby, it was traded in to J.T.Friskneys at Horncastle Lincolnshire. The workshop needed an overhead crane of some description, they spoke to the MD Eric Young and he said no. So, they asked if they could build a crane from one of the tractors that had been traded in, the cost of the tractor was £45.00 this was back in the late 60's.
Three men set about building the crane on the tractor. They turned the diff round as it was to be driven in 'reverse', built the crane frame and jib and fitted a seat on the righthand side. They altered the clutch and brake pedals, so the clutch is now to the driver's right and the brake to his left. They put smaller rear wheels and cut the front axle to lower the gravity of the crane. The front, which had now become the rear, has a weight box on it full of hundred series weights. The hydraulic linkage and the draw bar were taken off, they still used the tractor hydraulics for the crane. It has power steering. The initials of the three men that built it are welded on the crane frame. It was finished in 1972.
David Lemonius writes:
Nothing much to report from our beautiful sunny part of country and coast. Life as we know it is beginning to stir and I am getting pangs of cabin fever and thinking about going out for a run on my furloughed Super Dexta. I've bid a sad farewell to my faithful pre Force 4000 - a regular to our road runs and working days; I have been pestered for a few weeks now and, conscious that I need to cut down the fleet, I relented and so it has gone. That just leaves the County Super 6 - hastily put in container at the beginning of lockdown - and the Roadless 75. Plus, and in need of work, Force 4000 and a couple of David Brown 25's. I hope everyone has been keeping well through all of this and look forward to meeting up on "the other side"!
Paul Bell sent me an evocative photo taken of a harvest scene from the mid 1950's. Paul tells us the photograph from the early mid 50s was taken at Green Lane Farm, Kilverstone near Thetford, Norfolk. My father, Robert Bell, was a tenant of Lord Fisher of Kilverstone Hall. He is on the trailer, my mother Dorothy Bell in a dark suit is on the right and my brother Stuart and I are the small boys on the left.
The E27N on the binder belonged to my father and the Standard Fordson on the trailer belonged to my grandmother who farmed Hall Farm, Bridgham, about 7 miles Kilverstone It looks like rye is being harvested, which would have been grown for Ryvita. The location of the farm is now a large housing estate called Clover fields and a large Tesco supermarket. I would like to know if the Standard Fordson is still in existence. Registration EVF 643. I now have a 1955 E1A Fordson Major and a 1964 New Performance Super Dexta which I use on road runs and to plough my allotment.
[Note: EVF 643 does not show up on the DVLA's records but if any reader knows of it please let Pat Pawsey know and he will put you in touch with Paul.]
You will have seen that the Club pages, like so much else in these strange times are very different. The fact that they are so interesting is solely because of the memories, reports and photographs you sent. Our thanks to all those who have contributed, and I hope that more of you will do so for future issues; please give me a call or better still drop me an email.