Restoring an old Ferguson TE 20 D Tractor

Cleaning & restoring a vintage 1954 Ferguson D20 Tractor

As you may have seen on our Facebook page, we recently blast cleaned a 1954 Ferguson 20D Tractor.  Following completion of the work, the owner – Ken Dillon – agreed to share how he came across such an unusual restoration project and what has fuelled him to carry out the work to date.  We’re thrilled to have had the opportunity help Ken return this historic machine to its former glory and cannot wait to see the finished result.

Ken’s Vintage Tractor Restoration Story

“The tractor is a 1954 Ferguson “TE 20D” (not a Massey Ferguson, these are from the days before Mr Ferguson & Mr Massey ever met!) The “D” essentially refers to the type of fuel – but bizarrely does not mean Diesel… that would be a TE 20F. The TE 20D was designed to run on what used to be called Tractor Vapourising Oil but this is no longer made. A substitute fuel can be mixed from petrol & kerosene.

I’d always toyed with the idea of getting one – we used to have one on my Grandparents’ farm in Ireland in the 70’s. So after some “slightly beer-fuelled” activity on Ebay, this one was rescued in July 2013 from a field near Gwent where I am told it had been lying in a field/overgrown with bushes for about 3 years.

These tractors were quite commonplace in the 1940’s & 50’s; in many ways they were way ahead of their time in terms of the mechanics and the sheer versatility & simplicity of the tractor… and very much built to last. There aren’t many modern machines that could be left outside in all weathers (or in a bush for 3 years) and still be around and usable after 60 years.!

This photo shows how it was once it had been pulled from the bushes…. with fresh petrol it started straight away and drove reasonably well too.

ferguson te 20 d tractor restoration

A classic restoration from experienced professionals

Once we had it back to Birmingham, it was jet washed and the scrap bonnet & remnants of the rear wings were removed; then the strip-down could begin. All the engine ancillaries have been removed and cleaned / re-furbished and painted. The cast iron engine block was cracked – this has been professionally repaired and the cylinder head has been cleaned & re-built. The hydraulic system (for raising and lowering implements such as ploughs or for tipping trailers) has all been refurbished.

Stage 2 – Priming the tractor after Soda Blasting

Next it needs a coat of primer, then there are a few bits to bolt back on before the finishing coats of paint are applied. Finally the remaining parts (incl wheels, new rear wings, new engine cover & new front grille) will all be painted and then bolted in place.

It will hopefully be finished in time for the Birmingham St Patrick’s Parade in March…. but with only 6 or 7 weeks to go that seems like a tall order! Longer term plan is to finish the tractor to “show standard” and take it out to county fairs and the likes.

I had never come across soda blasting before – it was recommended as a process by a neighbour of mine.  Although I was slightly apprehensive about soda (is it really as good as people were saying?) the soda cleaning process certainly seemed to address the risks associated with sand / grit blasting – i.e. heat, sand contamination, surface damage, etc – and on reflection it was the right way to go. All the lads at the car care centre where it is being stored & worked on are impressed with the finished result.

I’d definitely go with soda blasting again if (or when) I restore another TE20. And you guys will be the first on the calling list!”

Here’s how the tractor looked when it arrived at Soda Blasting:

ferguson tractor tractor restoration

And once the blast cleaning had been completed – all paint, dirt and results of years of heavy use removed:

soda blastingsoda blasted tractorblast cleaned tractor