Ferguson TE20

Ferguson TE20

The Ferguson Model TE20 was a British agricultural tractor. It was Harry Ferguson's most successful design, commonly known as the "Little Grey Fergie". It was manufactured from 1946 to 1956. It was a small but effective design and is a popular collectors item for enthusiasts today.


The model name came from "Tractor, England 20 horsepower" (not the true power delivered but from a formula based on engine size, see tax horsepower). The TE range of Ferguson tractors were introduced in England in 1946 following 30 years of continuous development of the 'The Ferguson System' from 1916. The first work was to design a plough and linkage to integrate the tractor with its work in a manner that was an engineering whole. The automatic control system, now employed by almost all tractor manufacturers worldwide, was patented by Harry Ferguson in 1925 and known as the 'Master Patent'.Fact|date=October 2007

By the early 1930s the linkage design was finalised and is now adopted as international standard category I. During the 1930s the first complete Ferguson tractors were built and the famous 'suction side' hydraulic control systemFact|date=October 2007 developed and put into production at the David Brown factory at Huddersfield, England. (It was this production that led in 1939 to the David Brown line of tractors). [David Brown tractors 1965-88, by Anthony L. Heath, ISBN 1-903016-03-7]

In order to get volume production with lower costs Harry Ferguson, following a demonstration of his tractor before Henry Ford senior in October 1938, did a gentleman's agreement with Ford to produce the Ferguson tractor in Detroit starting mid 1939.Fact|date=October 2007 About 300,000 of these tractors, known 'Ford Ferguson' were produced up to June 30 1947.

During the War years the Ferguson design team developed many improvements to both tractor and implements and started to make arrangements to manufacture in the United Kingdom (UK). The agreement with Ford in 1938 was to include production at the Ford plant at Dagenham, Essex, UK but the UK Ford company would not do it.Fact|date=October 2007 By 1945 Ferguson had made a manufacturing agreement with the Standard Motor Company of Coventry, England to produce the Ferguson tractor incorporating all their latest improvements and to be known as the TE20, ie Tractor England.Fact|date=October 2007

Production started in the late summer of 1946, nearly a year before the last Ford Ferguson came off the line in Detroit in June 1947. The break with Ford left Harry Ferguson and his US company having implements to sell but no tractors. To make up the gap until the new Ferguson factory in Detroit started in October 1948, over 25,000 Coventry built TE20s were shipped to the USA and Canada. The TO (Tractor Overseas) 20 was virtually the same as the TE20.

Coventry production to 1956 was 517,651 units, about 66% being exported, mainly to Continental Europe and the British Empire but many other countries as well. To the above figure must be added TO production at Ferguson Park, Detroit. Including all 'Ferguson System' tractors from May 1936 to July 1956 brings the figure to approximately 1 million.Fact|date=October 2007

Harry Ferguson merged his worldwide companies with Massey-Harris of Toronto in July 1953, three year before TE and TO20 production ended, hence the change of name on the serial plate to 'Massey-Harris-Ferguson'. The Ferguson 35 replaced the old line in the US in 1955 and the TE20 in the UK in 1956, production here starting in September of that year following re-tooling of the factory.


The first TE20's ran on petrol. There were later versions that ran on "Tractor vapourising oil" (TVO), sometimes called "petrol/paraffin" and diesel. Some were converted in the UK to use a 3-cylinder Perkins diesel engine.

:TE stood for Tractor England.:TO stood for Tractor Overseas.

Between 1948 and 1951, the TO20 with a Continental engine was built in Detroit, Michigan.

Models and production years:

*TE-20 "Continental" Z-120 petrol engine 1946-1948
*TEA-20 "Standard Motor Company" petrol engine 1947-1956
*TEB-20 "Continental" Z-120 petrol engine - Narrow wheelbase 1946-1948
*TEC-20 "Standard" petrol - Narrow 1948-1956
*TED-20 TVO 1949-1956
*TEE-20 TV0 - Narrow 1949-1956
*TEF-20 diesel 1951-1956
*TEH-20 lamp oil engine 1950-1956
*TEJ-20 lamp oil engine - Narrow 1950-1956
*TEK-20 petrol - Vineyard 1952-1956
*TEL-20 TV0 - Vineyard 1952-1956
*TEM-20 lamp oil - Vineyard 1952-1956
*TEP-20 petrol - Industrial 1952-1956
*TER-20 TVO - Industrial 1952-1956
*TES-20 lamp oil - Industrial 1952-1956
*TET-20 Diesel - Industrial 1952-1956

Half a million TE20 tractors of all models were built. They were succeeded by the FE35, and then shortly after Ferguson merged with Massey-Harris to become Massey-Ferguson. For a time both Massey Harris and Ferguson brands continued alongside, until the FE35 became the MF (Massey Ferguson) 35.

Famous Fergies

*There is a monument in Wentworth on the junction of the Darling and Murray Rivers in Australia commemorating the time in 1956 when both rivers flooded and a fleet of little grey Fergies was used to build levee banks to save the town.

* A fleet of seven Ferguson TE-20s were used on the 1955-59 Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition. Four petrol-engined and three diesel models were used. Some were supplied as half-tracks, with steerable front skis, whilst others of the New Zealand team were fitted with an extra wheel on each side and full caterpillar tracks, developed by the expedition in the antarctic. In both cases, the track kits were easily removable and in light conditions the tractors were used on standard wheels and tyres. A canvas cabin was added for windproofing. Other than this, the tractors were totally standard- two were even fitted with a standard farmyard hydraulic front-loader for loading and unloading supplies. Reports were made at regular intervals to the Ferguson company and these show the tractors to have been reliable and effective- being capable of climbing a 1-in-7 slope of 'hard polished ice where a man cannot walk without crampons', as well as operating in conditions of -10 degrees Fahrenheit. Under Sir Edmund Hillary these tractors were driven to the South Pole, becoming the first vehicles to be driven to the pole, and the first overland journey to the pole since Captain Scott. The tractors were left at the pole for the use of American researchers ( [http://www.fofh.co.uk/articles/pole.htm] ).


External links

* [http://www.fofh.co.uk/index.htm Friends of Ferguson Web Site]
* [http://www.masseyferguson.com/ Massey-Ferguson Tractor and Combine Web Site]
* [http://www.tractorbit.co.uk/ Tractorbit web site]

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