The first article left me at the point of having a TED20 which ran in all gears, and at last could be ready for a serious road-run. In fact, the tractor did do a couple of local shows, only a couple of miles down the road, and with the offending spanner proudly attached to the grill with cable ties. It certainly provided a talking point, and diverted attention away from the dreadful bonnet and paintwork. However, things did progress, albeit slowly. A bonnet complete with proper grill was purchased via the FoFH website, the rust was killed off and a temporary coat of primer applied to prevent further deterioration. Some second hand tyres were fitted, and a new seat pan replaced the old, rusted and apparently imminently painful seat. Things were looking brighter, and with the Severn Vale Vintage Clubís traditional New Yearís Day road run approaching, I thought I would take the precaution of changing the engine oil and filter. This, as it turned out, was asking for trouble.
I do not have covered accommodation for the tractor, so it is kept at a friend's yard in the next village. This means that in Winter I can only work on it at weekends, so the oil change was carried out while I was on leave between Christmas and New Year. I know the manual gives the sump capacity as 13 pints, so with the old oil warmed up and then drained whilst I changed the filter, I happily poured a gallon down the filler. For some odd reason, the oil level was now well above the full mark on the dipstick. However, she started well and ran smoothly, so I set off for a quick test drive. Just down the road, the power died off and the engine started to gasp, and it was with some difficulty I managed to nurse it back to the yard. As I stopped, the tractor showed its disapproval of the whole affair by spitting a couple of pints of steaming water from the radiator. Well, said the onlookers, you are running it on petrol with the heat shield on, you need some TVO. We went down to a colleague's farm and came back with a few gallons of TVO, and I proceeded to siphon the petrol out of the main tank into a can. It is a long time since I have done that, and I had forgotten how foul it tastes.
With the main tank now full of TVO and the radiator topped up, we restarted. As soon as we turned it over to TVO the engine struggled, coughed out smoke, misfired and died. At that point I was told the TVO was 10 years old. We added more petrol and tried again, without success. Eventually, in fading light and with one more day before the road run, we abandoned the matter.
The following day, we drained all the TVO out of the main tank. This time I disconnected the fuel line to drain it- with the taste of the petrol still in my mouth I wasnít going to risk TVO as well! We refilled the main tank with petrol and removed the heat shield. We removed the brand new thermostat because that seemed faulty, and stripped and rebuilt the carburettor to clean it all out. Eventually, we restarted and once again I went for a test drive. At almost the exact point where I had had problems the day before, the engine died, but this time I merely had to switch tanks as the main tank was out of fuel. With the tractor running again, albeit just on petrol, I parked her neatly in the yard ready for the road run the next day, and went off to celebrate New Year's Eve secure in the knowledge that all was ready for the run.
The next morning, all muffled up against the cold, I arrived in the yard with a can of petrol to top up the main tank. Having done this, I climbed aboard, turned the key, shoved the stick forward, and didnít start! This tractor is definitely taking on a female personality, and not a very nice one either! For 20 minutes we tried everything we could think of, dampstart, booster cables, towing up and down the road, but without the slightest sign of starting. Eventually, conscious of holding 20 tractors up, I gave in. I then suffered the indignity of driving a friendís BMC Mini tractor on the run, the one my step-daughter should have driven, and which was much slower than a Fergie. For one reason or another, I left the Fergie in the yard untouched for two weeks. I think I was afraid of what I would do to it/her if I went up there! After two weeks I did think I ought to at least recover the battery and recharge it. Whilst up there, I suddenly had an urge to put the key in the slot and push the stick forward, I donít know why. It coughed, so I tried again, and it started! Maybe only on three cylinders, but started. We traced the offending plug, cleaned it, and all was well again. I didnít have long up there, just enough to run the engine up and warm it through, and make sure the battery was ok. I left it parked there, and it was a week before I had the chance to return.
Guess what, it wouldnít start! As I had broken my jumper cables in the rush before the road run, I could only try until the battery showed signs of strain. That is the current situation, and how the story rests. Members of the Severn Vale Vintage Club have already asked if their Secretary is trying to start a new section for stationary engines within the Club- a cruel jibe I have tried very hard to ignore. Plans now include a new set of plugs, and a complete strip down of the carburettor again, only this time in a warm place with decent lighting!
To be continued, hopefully with a happy ending!
Part One; Part Two