1946 E27 N Fordson Major Tractor.
I bought this tractor in Febuary 2010 from Timothy Kimberley of Tardebigge Old Wharf, Bromsgrove. Tim bought the Fordson Major about 18 months ago off a Mr J.W. Henman from Herefordshire with the intension to restore this project, but due to work commitments, could not find the time.
I was involved in the Santa Specials canal tunnel trips at Tarbebigge Wharf during Christmas of 2009 when I spotted this tractor over the hedge of one of the houses.
Having dicussed the possbility of buying the tractor to start with, the weather got worse, with a dumping of snow and very cold conditions, so thing's were put on hold
until the weather got a bit milder.
So on Saturday 10th Febuary 2010 the deal was done, and I bought my first tractor. Tim Kimberley and his dad, Bill kindley, delivered the two ton Fordson to my workshop in Lye. The Fordson was basicly running and drove off the trailer okay. Looking at the tractor it basicly needed a good tidy up, as it was my first tractor that needed restoring and not having that much experiance in restoring tractors.
My first job was to look at the steering. I noticed that there was lot's of free play in the two King Pins, plus the Track Rod Ends and the front wheel bearings were also worn.
Someone had welded the top of the King Pin to the top arm!, so it was out with the angle grinder to fetch the weld off. By the end of the day I had stripped all the streering off the front of the tractor until I was left with just the bare 'A' arm, but then I found the pivot pin worn as well plus the hole in the casting of the 'A' arm had gone oval!
Having shopped around on the internet for new parts to rebuild this front axle it would have come to around £300. As luck would have it I was looking at the eBay site and found a complete front axle with all of it's parts replaced with brand new items including new King Pins and bushes, new track rod ends, new wheel bearings, new pivot pin and new front tyres. Well if I could buy this, it would save me a lot of work rebuilding the axle back together again and possibly would be a cheaper option. That's if I could win it in the first place ? So I kept on bidding until I won my first item ever bought on eBay for £125. The following week I drove over to Camebridge with my dad to collect the axle.
The next day I checked over the front axle and fitted it back into the Fordson. The next thing to look at were the brakes. These are transmittion drum type brakes which are mechanically operated either by a handbrake cable or the two seperate brake pedals which are linked together when driving on the road ,or, if you find your tractor has one rear wheel stuck in a muddy ditch, you can stop it turning by applying one brake pedal with your left foot to stop it from spinning in the ditch.
Having looked at the brake shoes they were in good condition and working okay. I had to replace both short handbrake cables due to corrosion.
Having sorted out the steering and brakes I wanted to start cleaning the old paint and rust that were on all the castings.
I did not want to start splitting the engine, gearbox and rear axle as everything worked okay, and I'm a great beliver in "If it aint broke don't fix it!" I did change the very old oil that had been in the axle for many years. I started cleaning all the crud off the axle then I gave it two coats of Red Oxide paint which I alway think is a good undercoat.
Having removed the cast iron radiator, which had to be lifted off by a forklift because it was so heavy, and removed the front axle again I started cleaning the old paint and rust off the gearbox and engine. Again Red Oxide undercoat was applied.
Before I undercoated the engine I remembered that the head Gasket had been leaking water, so the cylinder head was removed to check things over.
It was decided to remove the valves as well, just to inspect them, whilst the head was removed. I must admit there was hardly any wear on the valve seats and again
the cylinder bores were in good condition as well. I dont think this engine has had much work to do since it was Factory reconditioned back in 1950 when it was fitted.
But I cleaned things up and ground the valves in for a good a compression seal.
Having put the cylinder head back together with a new copper gasket the engine had two good coats of Red Oxide undercoat paint. The front axle was also rubbed down and undercoated the same way. This was now fitted to the Fordson. The tractor was all red now and looking good. It was around this time that I realised that even when I finished this restoration project I could not drive the Fordson on the road, as it was not registerd with the DVLA! Infact the tractor had NEVER been on the road!
When I cleaned all the paint off the castings I did find all the casting numbers that
told the story of exactly when the tractor was built.
The Fordson was built on Thursday 2nd December 1946 which was just after the second World War had finished. I registered the tractor with DVLA on the first of June 2010 with an age related number plate of 875 XUV which I belive is a London registration !
After rebuliding the water pump and fitting a new fan belt the front casting was top coated with Fordson Aqua blue. This was the only part of top coat paint I brushed
on because I could not get at everything once the radiator was on. Talking of radiator,
whist I have it removed, I stripped the cast iron casing from around the copper core.
I needed to check the core for any blockages to stop any possible overheating in the future. Well I would say that 25% of the core was blocked up with rust and gunge!
I did try to clean it all out but I was unsucsessful as it was the rust that was keeping it all held together! So a new copper core was fitted.
The forklift was drafted in for the second time and the radiator was bolted into place.
In the meantime I was cleaning the loose rust out of the fuel tank. Upon further investigation I found two small holes in the bottom. After shocking myself at the price of a new one I set about soldering a patch on both holes to seal up the tank. After a final clean out, I filled the tank with Kerosene, and left the tank standing for a few weeks to test it out.
Whilst the tractor was up in the air it was time to drain out and refill the gearbox oil,
plus I removed the sump plug to drain the old oil out of the engine. Well it had to be poked out using a piece of wire and the oil was that gloopy and thick that it took all night to drain out! The next day I took the oil filter out the bottom of the sump and found that it was completely blocked up with sludge! I also spent some time clearing out the rest of the sludge that was stuck inside the sump. The bottom of the engine is
made up with white metal bearings so a straight SAE 40 grade of oil was put back in the sump.
I waited sometime for the perfect day in which to spray the top coat on the tractor. The paint is synthetic based with some thinners and some hardner mixed with it, It's also slow drying so I had no choice but to spray the tractor outside. So on a nice hot day in August the Fordson was sprayed with top coat and was finished off with two coats of laquer to give it that shine and to make everything waterproof.
I needed new tyres on the two rear wheels. After a few days shopping around I finally
located some at the right price from Bridgenorth Tyre Services. So on a wet day I loaded up the Morris with the two rear wheels and drove over to Bridgenorth to have the new tyres fitted. The only little problem was that they did not want the old tyres, so they had to come back with me.
I stripped all the old paint and rust off the rear wheels then sprayed them with Red Oxide undercoat to start with. After a day they were rubbed down again, and two coats of Fordson Orange top coat was applied. The wheels looked great all painted up with new tyres fitted. New front tyres came on the wheels when I bought the front axle from Cambridge, so again all I had to do was to re-paint the front wheels.
I spent a few days bolting all the bit's and bob's back on the Fordson which took most of the week, plus stripped and rebuilt the carboretor. By the Friday I had the engine fired up just on petrol and tuned the carboretor to suit. On the folowing Monday 'Wal' came down to my workshop to show me how to mix up T.V.O. (Tractor Vaporizing Oil). You can't buy this fuel anywhere now, so you have to mix your own with a concoction of Kerosene, oil and petrol. The exact amounts you mix is a big secret and if I told you, I would have to shoot you, if you see what I mean!
The tractor is M.O.T exempt and Tax exempt and I had to pay £35 for comprehensive Insurance which included a Five Million Public Liability cover. The Fordson was legally on the road, so after several road tests and a few teething problems to sort out, I went on my first drive to my home in Dudley which is only 4 miles away which took me 50 minuits !
I worked out the gear ratio out a few months ago. I noticed that according to the numbers stamped on the differential, I had the High Gear fitted, which means that I have a top speed of 7 MPH...WOW! It is an experiance driving this three speed crash gearbox using your right foot on the clutch to change gear and hand throttle but I often see the fustration on the faces of the drivers who get stuck behind me. I have now fitted a rear view mirrow to give me some warning of a tail back so I can pull over and let the cars past.
The first event my Fordson attendened was the Open Weekend for Dudley Canal Trust at Blowersgreen Pumphouse in Peartree Lane, Dudley on the last weekend in September 2010. Two other tractors were alongside mine of Walter Wood's (Wal) 'N' Type and Graham Thomas's 'N' Type water washer Fordson. Lot's of people admired my E27 N Fordson Major and all said what a good job I had made of restoring it.
May Day Bank Holiday 2011 at Hawne Basin Open Weekend.
A strange thing happened on Friday 29th April 2011. As most people were watching
William & Kate get Married I was travelling towards Halesowen with the Fordson Tractor on my way to Hawne Basin, when a Police car pulled me up!
I thought to myself....it could not be for speeding ?.... perhap's it's for going to SLOW ?
Maybe for NOT wearing a seat belt ?
NO......They just wanted to know where I was going as they don't see many tractors
in Halesowen! Plus his brother had one of those tractors which he is restoring, and he just wanted to know where to get the part's from!!! So after a chat, I had a 7 MPH Police Escort to Mucklow's Hill Island. I turned left and they went straight up the hill on a shout with blues & two's going full pelt.