The Rescue of a Fordson F
by Anthony West (UK)
I live in the UK and have for many years restored Fordson tractors (in the
main model N's). I have also restored and shown model F's, E 27N's, Field
Marshall Series 2, David Brown Cropmasters and the old grey Fergeson T 20.
At one time I had seven restored examples which were shown and used in
ploughing matches. As most restorers, I have a number of war stories I can relate on a range of
topics that may help other like minded and interested people. Perhaps my
first project is the best place to start!
I am not from an agricultural background, my father however was a managing
director of a sales outlet for JCB and David Brown (now CASE) earthmovers
My first encounter therefore stems from early childhood visits with dad and
hours spent playing on the showroom floor with all the display machinery.
From the age of about 5, I would go with Dad on a Saturday for the customary
short back and sides and to get covered in grease. It wasn't until I was 23
years old and employed as a digger driver for the local highways agency, that
I first became interested in and aquired my first tractor.
Basically there was no thought involved, no preference as to which model to
buy, or what I wanted to do with one, but a chance sighting of an extremely
old looking machine, languishing in the corner of a field hidden by bushes and
undergrowth near where I was working.
The owner wanted it moved out of the way to gain access and said it would be
collected by the salvage man at the end of the week. I was asked to Bulldoze
it out of the way to make room!! I asked about the machine and was told that
it had been his grandfathers. It's a "Ford something" from Ireland was all he
could say and "It's been there years mate, it's scrap".
Inspection found a very sad rusty looking thing with an oval tank, a four spoke
steering wheel long since rotted off. Big cast iron wheels and wide mudguards,
the whole lot was devoid of paint but seemed intact.
On the radiator top was the name Fordson but the brambles covered most
everything else. Instead of just ploughing in and crushing it out of the way
with the bulldozer as requested, I felt a little bit of nostalgia set in so
I fought through the nettles, roots and bramble thorns and with chain attached
to the backhoe, eased it out.
Ever have that strange feeling of mixed excitement when you have found
something but don't know what? The more I cleared away the undergrowth, the
more in awe I became of touching something that had obviously been built
I must have spent ages poking around, touching this, turning that before it
eventualy dawned on me. I had decided the scrap man had got no chance of
taking it away.
Of course i had made the decision without consultation, without the first
thought of where I was going to store this thing in around a small town house
or what I was going to do with it!
I asked if the farmer if he had a price in mind for the scrap, to be told that
if I could move it... I could have it.
The moving itself was straight forward and uneventfull. The homecoming is a
Anyway once at home the work began. For starters all the rubbish was removed
and the machine itself was cleaned off and sheeted up. Research was the first
and foremost task. Okay so I had a Fordson, but what was a Fordson? Dad to the
rescue...errr not actually!!! He said it was perhaps used for small holdings.
Thanks Dad!, Local library...not a great deal, but the leads started to come
in. Eventualy I discovered that I was the proud owner of a Fordson model F.
The engine numbers put it as being made in Cork Ireland, sometime in 1922.
I was genuinely vey lucky. It was almost original, the tank had the backplate
inscription, the cast iron dash was intact, the side vents on the radiator and
the rad top were correct. The ignition system however had lost the battle of
time and improvisation, the trembler box had made way for the newer "magneto"
system and still had a kick to it as i found out by mistake. Never spin the
impulse mag when holding the brass contact! ooouch!!. The seat and stearing
wheel, control rod and choke rod had long since perished, but the biggest
suprise of all was, that after soaking the cylinders, I found that she would
turn on the starting handle.
As with most things old you have to give them a certain amount of respect.
gallons of free easy, and hours of patience paid off, with most of the nuts
and bolts freeing off. The biggest problem I encountered, was with the wheel
collets or centres, which are cone shaped and boy were they on solid!!! I
tried everything apart from nuking them off but again perseverance paid off,
a week of lubeing, smacking with a mallet, pinching up the extractor nuts and
heating up the hub, saw them ease off.
It would take an age to relate all the
details I undertook with the restoration how parts were found and people with
the knowledge sought out. Hopefully I will get the chance, all I will say now
is...my advice for what it's worth is this....If you see something you like,
go for it. There is a world of people who have been there and done it and are
willing to give you all the help and assisstance you will need with your
project. For those with a limited knowledge, start off by considering
something that is not over ambitious or too difficult. A mid size machine or
part restored should do just fine...in any event as long as you possess the
spirit of adventure and an enquiring mind you will succeed, and the best of
British luck to all of you.
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