Machinery and Equipment: Recalling 80 years of the Ferguson tractor at Harvest Day

Roberts Cove Vintage Festival and DeCourcey Harvest Day take place this weekend

Two big vintage displays attracting the crowds in Co Cork this weekend take the focus away from our usual new machinery releases, for a look back through the years.

The Roberts Cove Vintage Festival on Sunday has tractor pulling, motorbike stunt shows, and music from country star Lisa McHugh.

On Monday the attention moves to Ballinadee, to the harvest working day organised by the De Courcey Classic & Vintage Club.

This event is located about halfway between Bandon and Kinsale, on the west side of the Bandon river.

The DeCourcey Harvest Day began in 2011 as a working demonstration of restored vintage combine harvesters from the locality.

The event was very successful, and the following year, it doubled in size, in terms of participant and visitor numbers.

At the 2013 event, Claas celebrated 100 years of manufacturing, with a display of 1950s trailed combines, then moving onto the first Claas self-propelled machines, and right through to a modern tracked machine.

The event earned international attention, and Claas UK and Ireland CEO Trevor Tyrrell, attended and performed the official opening.

Growing on this success, the 2014 DeCourcey Harvest Day focused on New Holland, and the yellow harvest kings, the Claeys, Claysons, and New Holland combines.

New Holland was commemorating 50 years of tractor production at their Basildon UK plant that year.

New Holland UK and Ireland CEO Andrew Watson travelled to Ireland especially for the event, further enhancing its international reputation.

A range of Ford and New Holland tractors from Waterfall man Keith Byran’s 1918 model F through to that year’s Harvest Day host, Jim O’Regan’s modern T7.260, showcased the brand’s tractor history with a ploughing display.

When it came to the combine working display, the earliest machine was a 1963 Claeys M103 owned by Michael Ryan, Ballinscarthy, and the most modern was a brand new New Holland CX6090 owned by Leonard Draper of Dunmanway.

We have seen many centenary celebrations this year, but the De Courcey team got there before everyone else, with the theme “century of change” at last year’s event.

The event featured 100 years of horse drawn machines right up to modern combine harvesters.

A pair of Clydesdale horses put on a ploughing and tilling display, while a team of three draught horses worked a reaper and binder.

Now, preparations are well under way for this year’s event. Landowner Paddy McCarthy has opened the headlands and tilling area with his 1974 Clayson 1530.

This machine was bought from Henry Goods in Kinsale in 1976, when Paddy was only 16 years of age.

This year, the theme is ‘80 years of the Ferguson tractor’.

The event marks the 80th year since the start of production of the Ferguson tractor line, with the Ferguson Brown being manufactured in 1936.

Harry Ferguson had developed his Black Tractor prototype some years previous, with his innovative hydraulic three-point linkage hitch.

The tractor used an American Hercules engine and had some teething problems, like oil starvation when working on hilly ground.

It took him some years to also solve problems with the hydraulic system.

In a partnership with David Brown, the manufacturing of the Model A Ferguson-Brown began 80 years ago.

The first manufactured were powered by the Coventry Climax model L engine.

This was a similar engine to the Hercules.

David Brown went on to improve the engine in later models. after purchasing the patterns. and made the engines themselves.

A deeper sump addressed the oil starvation problem.

Sales were disappointing, as the price was high in contrast to the Fordson, along with the depressed state of the economy.

Two years later, and Harry Ferguson decided to move his manufacturing partnership from David Brown to Henry Ford in America.

The first tractor of this partnership was the Ford-Ferguson 9N tractor.

It carried the Ferguson branding on the grill, with the Ford logo on the front of the bonnet.

This tractor included the first PTO combined with the three-point hitch, again putting Harry Ferguson at the forefront of innovations that would become standard for future tractors right up to today.

Following the Second World War, Ferguson looked at utilising a former aircraft factory at Banner Lane, Coventry, UK, with the Standard Motor Company.

This led to a manufacturing return to the UK, and the launch of the Ferguson TE20, 70 years ago.

Affectionately known as the Little Grey Fergie, the tractor went on to sell over 500,000 units.

It was seven years later that the company would become the brand we know today, with a merger with Massey-Harris.

Red body work and grey engine and frames became the norm, and the name Massey Ferguson was born.

With such a great history and heritage to celebrate, the De Courcey Harvest Day will have no shortage of vintage Fergusons to celebrate.

Mick Forde of ‘The Farm’, Grenagh, Co Cork has promised to bring a very rare Ferguson-Brown.

He also hopes to join the harvesting display with a Massey Harris 726 combine, which he believes is probably the oldest self-propelled combine in Ireland.

The event will have a large number of Ferguson tractors and Ferguson system implements on show and being demonstrated by their owners in a special Ferguson tilling area.

All models of harvesters, reaper and binders, and every sort of machinery associated with the harvest past and present, can be seen working throughout the day.

There will also be an area allocated to horse operated machines this year.

Horses will be ploughing, harrowing, cutting corn, threshing and drawing cartloads of sheaves.

Like the Roberts Cove event (the location of which is about 13 miles east along the coast from Kinsale), there will also be a large static display of vintage commercial vehicles, cars and tractors at the DeCourcey Harvest Day.

The funds raised from the day will go to Irish Guide Dogs and several local groups in the DeCourceys parish.


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