A RECENTLY restored Ferguson TE20 will be on display at the upcoming Newark Vintage Tractor and Heritage Machinery Show between November 13 and 14.

Colin Taylor from County Down, Northern Ireland – who restored the tractor – had always been searching for an early TE20 and eventually one was spotted in Norfolk and it turned out to be one of the earliest surviving examples in the UK, bearing the serial number 33.

“We had stumbled across the 33rd TE20 to roll off the production line just days into the first year of manufacture, 1946,” said Mr Taylor. "There were 321 TE20s manufactured from June to December in 1946 so this would place this vehicle within the first few weeks of production, though some of the castings can be dated to May 1946, almost a month before the first tractor was completed."

Because of its rarity and significance Mr Taylor decided to restore the tractor with only original parts where possible, using photographs and web-based documents to piece together the vehicle’s history.

“The intention was to use a Standard engine from the outset but delays in development forced a switch to import Continental motor company Z120 units for the early examples – then the Standard units were phased in in the later part of 1947,” explained Mr Taylor

Other parts of the tractor which are different from the later units include the gearbox, which is cast iron rather than the normal Elektron alloy unit. This tractor’s gearbox is also stamped gearbox Number 33.

The internal hydraulic linkages were cast out of brass, which is much weaker than steel, and was likely a stopgap measure to keep production moving. Several other differences are found on the brake pivots/linkages, check chain anchors and even the dashboard bolts, which have a slot head compared to the later captive splined bolts.

Mr Taylor continued:“The bolts on Number 33 are noticeably thicker on the heads and have the Bees Bolts logo on them – even down to the front axle bolts which have ‘unc’ thread compared to the normal ‘unf’.”

It took a few years and a search that extended across Europe and into America for Mr Taylor to track down the exact parts required to restore the engine, but one of the biggest hurdles was the steering wheel. “The very early steering wheels are made of an alloy casting with thin pressed steel spokes; it was extremely fragile and extremely rare today”

Other items which proved tricky to track down were the original style front wheel bearings, which are different to the normal TE20 ones. “The early Dunlop tyres were another problem and almost impossible to find in sound condition,” says Mr Taylor.

The unpainted alloy distributor body with black painted cap clips are also cloned from original pictures. “Number 33 is now almost entirely original. Just about the only things that don’t date back to 1946 are the battery, fuel and oil.”

The restored TE20 will be on display at the Newark Vintage Tractor and Heritage Machinery Show, alongside a wide range of other ‘Little Grey Fergies’ as part of the 75th anniversary tribute to the much-loved TE20.

For more info and to book tickets or enter the show competitions, visit www.newarkvintagetractorshow.com.