Cooking up a storm

The addition of a Storm Guard cab to this 1964 Fordson County Super-4 was the icing on the cake for Bernard Patience's restoration.

I remarked "These things don't exactly turn on a sixpence do they?" to Bernard Patience as I clambered down from the cab of his 1964 Fordson County Super-4. He had offered me the chance to drive the tractor around the field when I visited him this year.

It was most unlike Bernard to be this reckless and let me loose with a magnificently restored tractor but fortunately my laps of the field were completed without destroying anything. The County had been completed last summer but various circumstances had meant that our planned meeting had to be postponed for a few months. However it was well worth the wait to get this superb-looking machine in front of the camera.

County SuperNew Performance Fordson Super Major
Primed and painted Fordson Grey and with new rubbers and glass fitted to the front, the side panels and doors the cab really looks the part.

Forlorn

Bernard had long been aware of a rather forlorn Super-4 which had been laid up for some considerable time near the Sussex village of Chailey only a few miles from his home. The owner had acquired the tractor many years previously and it had been partially dismantled prior to a planned restoration project. However the restoration work never started and the Fordson remained in the field while the weather gradually took its toll. Bernard had previously made a few attempts to buy and rescue the tractor in the past but the owner had always refused to sell until in 2007 he finally changed his mind.

A deal was agreed and the remains of the tractor were collected on a trailer and brought back to Bernard's workshop where an initial inspection confirmed his worst fears. The tinwork was gone, the engine and gearbox were full of water, there were no wheels and many other parts were missing. What was left of the tractor was brought under cover and stripped down completely. The engine proved to be practically useless but fortunately there were still some parts which could be salvaged and re-used and the stripped down block is still among the stock of spares somewhere behind the shed.

However Bernard already had a suitable replacement engine which had come from a New Performance Super Major although this also required quite a good deal of work to get it back into first class order. The replacement engine was stripped down and new seals, liners and pistons were needed along with a new main bearing and a new big end bearing which were also fitted. The original injector pump was reconditioned and the gearbox was rebuilt with the bearings and seals being replaced.

While the work on the engine proceeded the search got underway for the replacements for the numerous missing parts and although some were found among Bernard's invaluable stock of

The County line

The name County given to this model Fordson and various other types derives from County Commercial Cars Ltd which was established in 1929 at Fleet in Hampshire. The business was initially set up in London by two brothers Ernest and Percy Tapp as a meat transfer company transporting supplies from Smithfield market to the butchers business run by Ernest's father-in-law. They soon found that the types of trucks, mostly ex-military or war surplus vehicles were too small for their requirements and this led to them carrying out a conversion by adding a twin rear axle which allowed the lorry to carry 2 tons. Other conversions followed including converting a twin axle Ford to triple axle and these successfully modified vehicles soon came to the attention of others. Later the works was set up in Fleet to handle the growing demand not only for lorry conversions but also for conversion kits including a six wheel drive conversion for the Ford Model AA truck. Beginning with lorries the company then moved on to tractors, producing and developing crawler designs soon after the end of WWII. In the 1950s the Ford units became the base for further tractor development although some designs were based on the machines produced by some of the other manufacturers. The company began building their four wheel drive versions of the Fordson Major adding their own front axle and fitting large equal size front and rear wheels. In time Ford began to design and build their own four wheel drive machines which impacted greatly on County's business and by the early 1980s the company was in financial difficulty and finally went into receivership in February 1983.

The County Super-4 was originally based around the Ford 592E four-cylinder, watercooled diesel engine and soon built up a reputation as a durable and reliable tractor. This was not surprising as County would dismantle the production transmission and rear axle and upgrade the bearings to a much higher specification than in the original tractor. However in terms of performance the very large turning circle was a major disadvantage and although promoted as a ploughing tractor it had little advantage over an ordinary Super Major which had practically the same pulling power. The County Super-4 did, however, find favour with those operating in the forestry industry and these machines were used not only in the UK but were also exported to the USA where they became widely used.

'useful odds and ends' stored around the yard, others had to be sourced from local dealers autojumbles and scrapyards. When the tractor was dismantled the two drive shafts were found to be very worn but fortunately Dick Davis from Hailsham, a good friend of Bernard's and who just happens to be an excellent engineer was able to repair them both.D

"Bernard already had a suitable replacement engine...although this also required a good deal of work"

Vintage Tractor Cabin

The Storm Guard cab is now in pristine condition; but when discovered the glass had gone and some of the metal work was badly corroded.

YourTractors

Wheels

Suitable wheels took some tracking down but eventually four good secondhand ones were found and these were shotblasted back to bare metal before being primed and painted and then a set of brand new tyres were fitted. None of the original tinwork had survived but Bernard already had a secondhand bonnet and the front cowl in stock. These were in good condition and needed only a little work to bring them back to good order and luckily the two new wings which were also needed were found during a visit to a rally.

The restoration had made good progress but Bernard suffered a problem with his back and was effectively laid up for several months.

His two boys Ronald and Martin helped out with all the heavy work and lifting and when Bernard had recovered sufficiently he picked up where he had left off and continued with the work on the County. One part, the front weight, was proving rather troublesome to find but eventually contact was made with someone who was making up new ones. He lived some distance away but he agreed to deliver a new weight to Bernard for only the cost of the weight and his diesel. Other replacement parts which were a little easier to find included new headlights, exhaust pipe, seat, cab fittings, dials and switches while a secondhand radiator, which was in pretty good condition, was already in stock.

Most of the restoration work was carried out in the shed where Bernard keeps his Marshall portable engine and all through the winter months he kept a fire going in the engine which heated the whole shed. In fact on some days the shed, with the logs blazing away merrily in the Marshall's firebox, it was a sight warmer than his house

Bernard does all his own painting, with the various parts being shotblasted, primed and then spray painted before being re-assembled. It is far easier to paint some of the more inaccessible areas of the tractor while it is still in pieces in the workshop. As far as supplies of suitable paint are concerned it is fortunate that there are still suppliers of the correct shades of Fordson Blue and Fordson Grey and both of these colours are readily available.

Most of the assembly work was carried out over the winter of 2007-08 and the County was able to make its first public appearance at the Tinkers Park Rally in 2008. As nothing was known about its first owner or working life and there were

Road to recovery

Super Major Injector Pump
Fortunately Bernard had a suitable replacement engine from a New Performance Super Major as the original was shot.

no original documents, an age related number was applied for. The tractor was taken to a few more rallies that year and was also used at a couple of ploughing events at the end of the year but at this time it had not been fitted with a cab.

Storm Guard cab

Towards the end of 2008 Bernard had mentioned to Rod Leaves at AGMAC in Punnets Town in Sussex that he was looking for a Storm Guard cab suitable for the County. Rod had supplied a good many spare parts not only for the County but also for several of the other tractors which Bernard has restored over the years and the two men are good friends. When Bernard mentioned the cab to him his reply "I've got one of those" did come as something of a surprise and Bernard thought he was joking. But sure enough Rod did have a suitable cab although with the best will in the world it could not have been described as being in pristine condition. The glass had gone and some of the metal work was badly corroded but on the plus side the glass fibre roof was intact and as this type of cab is far from common Bernard was very pleased to have it.

Back at the workshop the cab was shotblasted and cleaned, the rotten metal cut away and welded repairs were made to the affected areas.

The roof was thoroughly cleaned and rubbed down and the minor cracks and blemishes in the glass fibre were repaired. The cab was then primed and painted Fordson Grey and new rubbers and glass fitted to the front, the side panels and the doors. The back of the cab has a pull down cover which Rod also managed to come up with a short time ago and this has recently been fitted. One finishing touch to the cab roof does remain outstanding and this is a small Storm Guard transfer badge which is carried on the front but this item is refusing to be found at the moment and Bernard is continuing to search for one.

Now that the County Super 4 has been finished Bernard has moved on to his next project which is a Fordson industrial timber tractor. This one of a pair supplied new in 1957 by Stormonts in Hildenborough to Farrants, a Tunbridge Wells company which used them for many years in their round timber haulage business. The machine is already in pieces in the yard and will probably make its return to the rally scene in the not too distant future. Apparently the second Farrants tractor is believed to have also survived and if anyone knows of its whereabouts Bernard will no doubt be very interested to hear from them. ■

County Super4 Drive Shaft Spare Parts

Things are beginning to take shape as work progresses on Back to work; the County back in action at a ploughing

The County as it was when first recovered.

the front axle.

match in 2008.

Things are beginning to take shape as work progresses on Back to work; the County back in action at a ploughing

The County as it was when first recovered.

the front axle.

match in 2008.

+3 0

Post a comment