The story of Ferguson Tractors starts not with building tractors but Aero Planes.
Henry George (Harry) Ferguson (November 4, 1884 - October 25, 1960).
He was born at Growell, near Dromore, County Down, Ireland, and was the son of a farmer. As a young man he became the first Irishman to build and fly his own aeroplane, with the 1909 flight of the Ferguson monoplane, and his company later developed the first four wheel drive Formula One car, the Ferguson P99. He then had an important role in the development of the modern agricultural tractor, and his name lives on as part of the name of the Massey Ferguson company.
The Early YearsEdit
In 1902 Ferguson went to work with his brother Joe in his bicycle and car repair business. Whilst working there as a mechanic he developed an interest in aviation, to the extent of visiting airshows abroad. In 1904 he began to race motorcycles.
In 1909 Ferguson became the first person to fly in Ireland, when he took off on December 31 in a monoplane he had designed and built himself. After falling out with his brother over the safety and future of aviation Ferguson decided to go it alone, and in 1911 founded a company selling Maxwell automobile, Star and Vauxhall cars and Overtime Tractors - eventually to be named Harry Ferguson Limited.
Ferguson saw at first hand the weakness of having tractor and plough as separate articulated units, and in 1917 he devised a plough which could be rigidly attached to a Model T Ford car - the Eros, which became a limited success, competing with the Fordson Model F.
- Main article: Ferguson-Sherman
Ferguson eventually founded the Ferguson-Sherman Inc., along with Eber and George Sherman. The new enterprise developed a ploughing system that incorporated a Duplex hitch system which fitted the Fordson line of tractors. This system consisted of four links versus three and was manually operated with spring assist. The Sherman bothers were the Ford dealers for New York state as well as the manufacturers of Ferguson's earlier plough for the Fordson tractor. The bothers personally knew Henry Ford and were responsible for arranging the 1938 meeting that led to the Ford-Ferguson partnership to build Ford tractors using the Ferguson system. Ebor Sherman had seen the new Ford experimental tractors built by Henry Ford and the Ferguson Model A working, and told Henry Ford about the Ferguson tractor.
Ferguson then went on to develop a hydraulic linkage that allowed better control of implements and mounted them on the tractor instead of trailing them from a drawbar. Ferguson's new hydraulic system was first seen on the Ferguson-Brown Model A tractors, built by David Brown in the UK. The combination of three point hitch and draft control defines the term "Ferguson system". A key advantage of the Ferguson System was that the hydraulically operated and controlled three point hitch harnessed the draft of the mounted tool to moderate the tool depth and therefore the load on the tractor.
The Ford-Ferguson DealEdit
The deal followed a demonstration by Ferguson of his system working compared to a Fordson tractor for Henry Ford at his Dearbourn Estate in October 1938. Ferguson brought two Model A tractors No. 661 and 662 to America, which Henry Ford then bought. One of these tractors is now in the Henry Ford Museum in Dearbourn. Ferguson eventually made a handshake agreement with Henry Ford so that Ford could use Ferguson's Three-point Linkage (called a hitch in USA) system on his new tractor (9N, and the later 2N, the later 8N version was built after the deal broke down). The early tractors were badged with "Ferguson System" below the Ford badge. Ford built 306,221 of these tractors between 1939 and 1947.
Henry Ford II, Ford's grandson, abruptly ended the handshake deal on June 30, 1947. Ferguson's reaction was a law suit demanding $251,000,000 in all. The disagreement was settled in favour of Ferguson in April of 1952 for about £9 millions.
Ferguson then started production in England of his own Ferguson tractor, which looked very much like the Ford-Ferguson. The Ferguson tractors were built by the manufacturers of Standard Cars. Then in the late 40's a factory was established in Detroit Michigan, USA to supply the American market. By 1951 the first Diesel version of the Ferguson was offered.
A year later Ferguson merged with Canadian firm Massey-Harris to become Massey-Harris-Ferguson Co. And this merger eventually became known as Massey Ferguson Ltd. By 1953 Ferguson had built 339,420 of his little tractor. Following the Massey-Harris Merger, they used a 3 cylinder Perkins engine. They then took the Perkins company over in 1959, as well as acquiring the Standard Motor Companies Coventry tractor factory in the same year.
The 1956 FE35 was distinguished by its gold painted Transmission and Engine. Then following the merger it was renamed the Massey-Ferguson MF35 and given a Red and Grey colour scheme, that was to become the new combined Massey-Harris and Ferguson companies unified look.
- Main article: Ferguson Research Ltd.
Ferguson's research division which Harry Ferguson retained went on to develop various cars and tractors, including the first Formula One 4-wheel drive car & the Ferguson limited-slip differential used in the Jenson Interceptor a powerful high performance 4 wheel drive car now considered ahead of its time.
- See Massey Ferguson for main article.
Following Harry Ferguson's death in 1960 the company's tractors moved away from his ideal of small light weight tractors, into building larger horse power tractors with various innovations, like Safety Cabs, Oil Cooled Brakes, and Six speed Gear Boxes and a Pivot Steer 4 wheel drive with equal sized wheels MF1200 range. The range grow considerably till they were taken over by AGCO in 1995, just before the 3 millionth tractor was built.
Model Listing Edit
- Ford-Ferguson 9N
- Ford-Ferguson 2N
- Ferguson TE20
- Ferguson TE35
- Ferguson TO20
- Ferguson TO30
- Ferguson TO35
- Ferguson F40 The Ferguson F40 was essentially a modified Ferguson TO-35 model sold in North America and badged as a Massey-Harris-Ferguson. The paint scheme was beige sheet metalwork with a flint metallic grey undercarriage.
- Ferguson FE-35 which became the Massey-Ferguson 35 often called the MF 35 after the merger with Massey-Harris
- Massey Ferguson 65 - based on the US Ferguson F40 concept.
Accessories & Implements Edit
Ferguson designed or built a whole range of implements to go with the tractors. Some were built by other manufacturers and just badged as Ferguson to help with marketing and allow dealers to offer a full product line to encourage customer loyalty to the brand.
- Main article: Ferguson implements
- Post Auger
- Belt pulley
- Corn mill
- Crop sprayer
- Fertiliser spreader
- Mole plough
- Muck spreader
- Muck fork
- Potato planters
- Rear loader
- Saw bench
- Seed drill
- Transport box
- Yard scraper
3rd Party Implements / Adaptation's / Conversions Edit
(please add details of 3rd party adoptions / conversions / implements specifically built for Ferguson tractors)
Ferguson-Twose mounted road rollerEdit
- Main article: Ferguson-Twose road-roller
This 'attachment' consisted of a Ferguson tractor being reversed on a base frame mounted on 3 rollers. The rolling drums drive power was taken from the tractor rear wheels and the roller had its own steering wheel. Water ballast tanks were an option of which only one was ordered and is now part of the Brent Thomas collection. A few examples can be seen in India.
The Link box was mounted on the front axle via two special brackets. It could have been used to carry varying loads, often being used in conjunction with the Ferguson mounted fertiliser spinner to carry extra sacks of fertilizer.
- Massey Ferguson
- List of Tractor Manufacturers
- Ferguson Club - The main UK club for Ferguson tractor owners.
- Shows and Meets - list of events
- List of Ferguson collections
- Classic Tractors of the World, By Nick Baldwin.
- The Ferguson Tractor story, By Stuart Gibbard.
- Massey-Ferguson Tractors by Michael Williams
- Ferguson Museum
- Ferguson Resources - Links to web sites on Ferguson tractors
- Ferguson Club
- Friend of Ferguson Heritage Club
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