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Ferguson TEA20 “Gråtass”

While at the farm in Norway, one of my tasks was to bring the old 50’s tractor back to life. Zeyang said it had been put away running some 4 years ago and that various people had attempted to bring it back, but none really managed or ran out of time. That sounded like a challenge to me!

These tractors are pretty interesting, they were very popular and this particular one was the first motorized vehicle on the farm in 1952, replacing the work of most or all of the horses (about 24 or so). You still see quite a few of them in Norway, people in Oppland seem to really like keeping their old tractors running.

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The strange “Gråtass” nickname means “grey doggie” in Norwegian. The name makes sense since they were only ever sold in grey! There’s a very popular Norwegian kids show that features a driverless, living tractor with this name, so all the kids in Norway instantly recognize these tractors.

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When I started fixing it, the first obvious problem was a lack of battery and some totally corroded connecting wires; green copper corosion was everywhere. A new Biltema battery and ground strap solved that easily.

After that some life came into it, but I found out there was a short-circuit somewhere in the circuitry.

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Checking at the wiring, things looked very bad. The plastic coating was crumbling and completely stripped in some areas.DSC09187

Looking it over and comparing with a diagram, it seemed quite simple,  there are only about 6 critical components. Especially compared to the motorcycle I partly rewired a few months ago, this seemed like it would be a breeze.

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With only a limited selection of wire colors (just enough for what was needed), I redid almost everything and improved the wiring a bit so the ignition switch also controlled and overrode the lights (removing the key turns the lights off now).

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I relabeled and remade the rectifier connector and insulator as well. It turned out that the very last wires I replaced, the ones to the headlights, were the ones shorting out! I’m quite happy I managed to pull this off, since only a few months ago I would have named electricity and wiring as my weakest area, when it comes to mechanical abilities. That might still be the case, but at least I can now say I completely rewired a tractor!

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Next I cleaned out the carburetor, though it honestly needed a revision kit since some of the seals and parts looked like they were still from the 50’s. It wasn’t really a priority so we never ordered the parts. I managed to get it to fire up after that, and really wanted to get it out of the barn on it’s own power.

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Unfortunately, the clutch had stuck while standing for a few years, and it wouldn’t go into gear. We pushed it out in neutral, tied it to the car and after yanking it a bit the clutch popped loose. That was a real relief as I would’ve had to split the whole tractor to fix that in case this trick wouldn’t have worked. It’s apparently a common problem, ideally they are stored with the clutch pedal pressed down with a block of wood, so the clutch stays open.

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I could drive it after that, took it around the yard and back. It wasn’t running perfect as the carb still had an overflow going on, and the idle and choke needed to be set correctly after fixing that. You can see the throttle on the picture, it’s the lever under the wheel that looks like it should control the indicators instead (it doesn’t have indicators). It doesn’t return automatically, so that you can set it to a steady speed when working the land.

There’s all sorts of great 50’s details and parts on this tractor, and everything has a great patina after 62 years of farm use.

Driving this thing is a pretty interesting experience. The brakes are not very adequate, and you can even control the left and right side separately to make tighter turns. What’s also interesting is that to start, you use the gear lever, pushing it into the “S”, for Start slot. That avoids needing extra switches to for starting in neutral or with clutch; you will never be in gear with this method

At the end of my stay I put it back in the barn. It stalled right before I went in, since the fuel tank is completely horizontal and needs to be quite full to keep fuel running into the lines on downward slopes!

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I don’t think it will get used a lot, since it’s more of a curious artefact instead of a useful piece of machinery these days…

3 replies
  1. Boström
    Boström says:

    Interesting machine! I’ve never heard of the ‘S’ slot thing before. Also, that was some busted up wiring you had to fix. Keep it up. 😀

    Reply

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