In The Chair June 2016: (74 Aug/Sept)


Texas Tea, or perhaps more appropriately Black Gold given its price today is a commodity bought by us all, but the decision of which oil to use is no longer a simple one.  Back in your grandfather or father's day the choice for tractors was fairly easy, in general the advice being to purchase from a reputable supplier and usually only a couple of grades of engine oil, a lighter grade for winter use to ease starting, hand cranking the thicker summer grades was difficult on a frosty winters morning, together with a single grade for the transmission.  Surprisingly the only advice given in a Fordson N instruction book was that your dealer would …"be pleased to advise as to the correct grade to use in the engine."….  and a little later under transmission instructions that …."is kept full of extreme pressure lubricant of the correct grade…' note the bold type but again no grade is given.
By the time the E27N Major arrived in 1945 the instruction book did specify S.A.E. 30 for summer and 40 for winter in this country for TVO tractors and 90 for both the rear axle and gearbox. Of course these were straight oils not detergent types and these engines had no filtration system only a screen in the sump that required cleaning at every oil change.  The 'New Major' gave a little more information and detergent alternatives were added to the recommended list but by then a modern filtration system was incorporated.


Detergent oils must never be mixed with non detergent types and I remember tails of woe from my boyhood when detergent types were introduced and used in old tractors for the first time because they dislodged so much gunge that the primitive screen and oil feed pipe were completely blocked in the TVO Fordson Majors and Ns with disastrous results.
Fordson tractors from the E1A Majors onwards should not really be a problem for most people when choosing the appropriate oil but the earlier ones do seem to cause confusion.  The F's, N's and E27N Majors were built when tolerances were less fine than today and oil technology was far less advanced.  I use a straight SAE 40 (SAE stands for 'Society of Automotive Engineers and the 40 is the weight or thickness of the oil, the higher the number the heavier or thicker it is) in my TVO E27N's as they really only run when the temperature has risen during the summer months. The modern equivalent is either API (American Petroleum Institute) or ACEA (Association des Constructeurs Europeens d'Automobiles that has replaced the old CCMC codes).  Briefly the API codes will start with an S for petrol and a C for diesel engines.  The ACEA codes are A for petrol, B for light diesel and C for commercial diesel engines.  For my P6 powered Major I use a 15/50 modern detergent oil but I rebuilt that engine and ran it on that from the start.  If I had one and didn't know it's service history I would run it on SAE 20, and not risk using detergent oil.  For a multigrade oil, the 15W 50 describes the viscosity or 'clinging' properties of the oil and means that the oil behaves like a 15 weight when cold and as a 50 when hot.
For the E27N's I use straight SAE 90 in both the gearbox and rear axle.  I suggest that if you have an F or an N that you use the same engine oil as for an E27N but for the transmission a straight SAE 140 oil. I would not use an EP oil (Extreme Pressure, as the additive package used in these oils was changed in the 1950's and some of the packages now used will attack the bronze components at high temperatures) unless you are quite sure that the package in the brand you use is safe.


Driving Licences:

Firstly: A word of warning for anyone who has had to pass a medical to enable them to hold a driving license.  If, for example, you need to wear glasses when driving this will be noted on your license.  Such codes are listed in column 12 on the back of a photo card license; incidentally you should carry a spare pair of glasses in case of loss or damage, as it is an offence to drive without wearing them. 
Make no mistake, as the DVLA sees it, if your eyesight is such that you need glasses to correct your vision to drive safely then you are only granted a licence on the condition that glasses are worn whilst driving.  You may face prosecution or have your licence withdrawn if you do not wear them.
Secondly: The paper part of the photocard licence was abolished from 8th June 2015.  Those of you who do not hold a photocard licence may continue to use their paper licence, normally until your 45th birthday if you have a 'vocational' entitlement (lorry or bus), or your 70th,otherwise so long as the details remain unchanged, so do NOT destroy it.  However from June any endorsements will no longer be recorded on the licence, but they can be checked on line easily by entering your driver and national insurance numbers and post code, for those without computers there are other ways of checking. If you need to hire a vehicle either at home or abroad the hirer may want to check your driving record for insurance purposes, so you must have these numbers to hand just in case.  I gather from my German family that they are never asked about endorsements when hiring a car, so perhaps in future neither will we.

From Around the Country:
Stradsett Park Vintage Rally 
Held on 1st and 2nd May; this was the Club's second visit to this rally that is set in parkland. Sunday was a lovely sunny day but there was a shower late on Monday afternoon.  Following last year's traffic and weather problems, the layout was totally different this year. On the whole it was an improvement but the club stands were a long away from the tractor line up which was a pity, no doubt there will be some fine tuning for next year's show.  This year's feature was haymaking, there was certainly a very good gate but then it is a well run interesting rally and deserves its success.
St Albans Country Show 
Held at Oaklands College on 5th and 6th June 2016: John Worley writes; this year's show was better organised and a very friendly one.  The entry of Ford and Fordson was extremely good, with 22 out of a total of 58.
A good selection of Majors lined up at St Albans
Saturday was overcast, but I understand was enjoyed by all.  However, on Sunday the weather changed and suntan lotion was needed!  It was very sunny and hot, with queues to all the catering vans.  There were 2 Fordson Standards, 10 Fordson Majors, and 5 Dexters.
As you can see from the photo, there was a very impressive line-up with most tractors presented well, and a couple in concourse condition.  The tractors which stood out to me were a Ford County 1124 owned by E Hill, and a Super Major with cab, owned by Jack Vickary.  When speaking to him about the cab, he was not sure where it originated or who built it.  Then there was a Super Major Doe 180 (1975), owned by Mike Sanders.  Perhaps the best turnout was a Ford 2000 (1966) owned by Dick Trott.
Next year's show will be the first weekend in June; I would suggest you enter the date in your diaries -it's well worth a visit.
Andrew Green from Devon writes :- 
Devon is well and truly into the Show season and throughout the West country this is a very big part of all our local communities and rural infrastructure, with an event taking place nearly every weekend and some very well organised one day shows during the week to. It's a very busy time and I hope to be at the Okehampton Show on Thursday 11th August which I believe to be a most enjoyable traditional show with wonderful views of Dartmoor and I hope, perhaps, to see some of you there.
I had a message from Mike Lee, one of our members, thanking everyone who attended his fund raising event at Thorverton, near Exeter. He was delighted to report that he and his team raised about £1700, a record sum for this day, which incidentally his family have been running for over 15 years, to be shared between his local doctor's surgery and the Devon Air Ambulance, both such deserving Charities. Those of us out in the countryside are so dependent on the Air Ambulance when things go wrong. We are very fortunate to have two helicopters as Devon is such a large place and they also fly and help adjoining Counties when they need extra help.
Well, that's all for now. I do hope you enjoy your Summer, your tractors and good health! Please keep in touch -
Carrington Steam & Vintage Rally 
Held on 29th and 30th May was dry this year that made a pleasant change, the featured tractors this year were Ferguson and as usual Malcolm had put on an excellent display, however the general tractor lines seemed a little sparse. I was unable to attend this year and so unfortunately missed meeting Allan and Carol Cook and their family Steven, Lisa and two grandsons.  Allan was the past president of the Fordson tractor Club of Australia.
"Jeffro" - Superb looking creation
with a great looking rear aswell!!


Forthcoming Events: 

Writing this in early June, the season has so far been warmer and dryer than last year, but there is a long way to go as yet so my fingers are still firmly crossed.  Still to come are Ray and Vanda Purcell's Cambridge Steam Fair at Stow-cum-Quy on 23rd and 24th July with Conrad in charge of the FFA tent.
The Welland Steam Rally 
Held 29th to 31st July, Derek and Margaret will be there but I gather Graham Skittery has delegated the tractor stewardship to the capable hands of his son Olly. 
The following weekend sees the Stroud Club's rally at South Cerney airfield where David and Kenneth Ford will be representing the Club.
This will be followed by the Club's 'family' weekend courtesy of Tim Pearman on August 6th and 7th .Entry forms are still available to download from the website; various attractions are being organised including a ''Swim" by the County Sea Horse. This is an event you really shouldn't miss! It's not too late to book a place and we hope to have a really interesting line up of members' tractors.
Great Dorset 
Being held earlier from 24th to 28th of August;we are not having a display this year but Margaret and Derek will, as usual, be on duty in the static tractor section.  I'm told that exhibitors will be expected to stay 'on peg' rather longer than usual, the working section usually hardly operates at all on the Sunday - we shall see.
By September the ploughing season gets underway with the  First World Vintage Ploughing Championships incorporating the 66th British National Championships  from the 8th to 11th September at Crockey Hill near York.  Roger has arranged for the FFA to have a stand there that will have members' tractors on display.  It's a busy month for Roger as the
FFA Northern Area Championships
Will be held at Towton on 25th September courtesy of Hartley Farms. For further details on either event contact Roger Ingham on 07910 272757 or 01937 531532. 
Meanwhile in the South a fun day will be held at Rixs Farm Langham 5th and 6th September followed by The Southern Area Championships to be held at Fornham St Martin near Bury St Edmunds on 1st and 2nd October, by kind invitation of Henry Castle of The Ferguson Club.
The new Tractor Autumn World 
Held on 8th and 9th October, at the Newbury Show ground and we look forward to seeing you.
The Newark Tractor Vintage and heritage Show is on 11th and 12th November, do remember to put FFA on your entry form if you want to be part of the Club's display. 
Please go to the FFA website for more information on these and many other events where you will find useful links and, where possible, downloadable entry forms.


Looking forward to 2017:

Fordson Model F's:
2017 sees the hundredth anniversary of the launch of the iconic Fordson F, probably the most important tractor of all time.  As with Henry Ford's ubiquitous Model T it heralded the introduction of the first affordable successfully mass produced tractor.  The Club will stage a special display featuring the model F at The Great Dorset Steam Fair in 2017 and we are looking for tractors to take part, if you are interested in bringing yours please give me a call on 01787 277316 or drop me an email to  We shall also feature a special display of F's at Tractor World at Malvern which is to be held earlier next year on. ??/2/2017.
The EXPO: 
Is it time to review the Club's annual gathering?  Judging by the number of members who turn up to these they no longer appeal to members as they once did.  In my view this is because of a number of issues.  The most important two are probably that whatever venue is chosen it is going to be too far for some members to travel to and the timing is always going to clash with another event.  In general people are much more aware of the cost of travel, also the Club attends more shows than it used to do which in effect means that people meet more often at other rallies closer to where they live, thus perhaps reducing the need for them to travel to the EXPO.
However it is your Club and this is a matter on which the committee would like to hear your views. There are other alternatives to holding an EXPO, one example would be for a member to suggest his or her favourite rally and, with the tractor steward's backing, either themselves or with the help of the local reps or some committee members holding a 'Club' event at that rally.  I do think that it is better to group all Ford and Fordson tractors together regardless of whether the owners are members or not, it makes for a much better display and at shows where this has been done it has worked splendidly.  For me it's the tractors and people that make our hobby what it is.
Another alternative would be a 'special' for example to celebrate a local rally's twenty-fifth anniversary or some other local or national event that gives an excuse for a bit of a knees up.  The suggestion for such an event could come from any member or from the committee.  Please let me or any committee member know what you think
The Eastern Counties Vintage Tractor Show: good news, I hear that after a disastrous gate on Saturday that was virtually 'rained off', Sunday's was good resulting, I am told, in a surplus, hopefully this will mean that the rally will again take place in 2017.



Just a few words about the wider benefits that our hobby brings to both the general public and to us.  Tractor enthusiasts raise a lot of money each year by supporting rallies that in turn raise money for local and national charitable causes and by holding road runs, ploughing matches and the like.  In some cases the primary objective is to raise as much cash as possible. The Pink Ladies run organized by Annie Chapman, that this year takes place on Sunday 3rd July, is an excellent example of such an event held in aid of a very worthwhile cause.  That is not to say that those taking part don't enjoy doing these things, of course they do, and judging from the crowds who turn out to watch so do they.
To end on a personal note, in May my granddaughter who lives in Germany came to stay with parents and two German couples related to them.  I have to confess that my mastery of the German tongue is shamefully inadequate, but tractors have a universal language of all their own and with Ken Bailey's loan of a few tractors we managed a creditable line up of Blue and organised a road run.  Rod and Ian had both driven tractors since boyhood but the Germans, Christian and Ludwig (Lucki) had never sat on one before, but after a short practice run in the yard we all struck off.  The first couple of miles was on a neighbour's farm tracks to get them used to their steeds. Then, via a concrete track round the world war bomb dump, exiting onto the public road, which was part of the former airfield perimeter track.  The run covered about 25 kilometres (note the concession to our continental cousins) on and off road and incorporated the obligatory pub stop.  I have to say that there were absolutely no language barriers and judging from the ear-to-ear grins that a Cheshire Cat would have been proud of everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves.