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Contributed Article

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!

The Rescue

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 (UK). 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".

Old Fordson F
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 generations ago.

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 different story!!.

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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