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I had also considered buying a landrover and trailer, but the price of a decent second hand 4x4 was prohibitive. I was really stuck, I could only rely on my friends so much for lifts to and from ralies as they had there own tractors to display and it doesn't take long before even good friends start feeling needled at the prospect of carting someone elses baggage about. I only had a small 2ltr family saloon and I needed that to get to and from work and it really wasn't strong enough to haul the weight of two tractors and a heavy trailer.
My situation was depressing. I wanted to make the events but it was looking more and more likely that I would miss the majority unless I got my own transport soon.
All I needed now to complete the F was a good set of iron wheels, everything else was done and if I do say so myself it looked the part. The N was now complete too, it had been repainted in the appropriate fern green and following the purchase and fitting of the correct vaporiser was running like a dream.
Due to working for the highways agency, I took every available oportunity to approach local farmers under one pretence or another with the real intent of finding spare parts. To be truthfull it was now taking over most of my free time and I enjoyed the thrill of the hunt and took great pleasure if I managed to find something that had been hidden for years. On one such occaision, I was excavating a drainage ditch up on the moors. When through a hedgerow I saw a cast iron front wheel propped up against a dry stone wall.
I recognised the pattern as being a Fordson one, so I quickly drove into the farmyard and went to the house. I was met by a very large but jolly woman who was dressed in a mans work shirt and dungerees. I asked about the wheel and explained my interest, and after about half an hour of "ooooh I remember them" I was directed to the cow shed to look for Tom. The farm itself was probably not the most prosperous I have been to, The out buildings were in a state of disrepair and it was rundown and untidy. Walking round the back to the cow shed, I was met with a big grin from a ruddy faced thick set fellow bucket's in hand. He was a happy enough chap who seemed genuinly interested in what I was doing, but wasn't having any of it as far as the wheels were concerned.
Tom explained that the wheels were the only thing he had that were heavy enough to chain the bull too. Undetered by his reluctance I offered several suggestions for an alternative even offered the sevices of my machine in my lunch break!
It was while we were talking and I was following him about that I saw the Fordson Major. It was an old one late 40's, it was parked under a ramshackle lean-to, and seemed complete but like the rest of it's surroundings was rather run down. I don't know why but I asked Tom if it was for sale, and after a brief chat struck a deal of £400.00 for the major, the wheels were exchanged for three hours of digger work and a set of rear hoe side cutters (bucket teeth).
The following weekend I drove up to Tom's with a couple of gallons of petrol and some V.O a magneto and a set of plugs. Once out from under the lean-to, it didn't take too long to get the old thing up and running. I drained the old engine oil out in the "midden" and Tom was good enough to give me some fresh . Can't stress this enough.... always change the engine oil in a machine before you move it!!... you can learn alot from the old stuff. and save money on costly repairs.
Anyway once on the road I was impressed by the old tractors turn of speed. Although basically the same as the model N the E 27N was far superior, the seating position was like sitting on a roof top for one, plus it had a few other things like bigger wheels and light too.
It was quite enjoyable thrashing along the country roads with the smell of V.O coming from the exhaust, and of course with something this fast......that was it problem solved ...with something this fast I could pull the others about. I would like to say that everything went smoothly, but afraid not!! Several stalls from foul fuel, boiling over due to a blocked radiator core were but a few of the troubles I was presented with. Everything else was put aside with a view to getting the Major sorted out and running properly. The radiator core was flushed but still presented trouble, so in the end I discarded it in favour of one of the new ones bought at the farm sale.
The tin work was stripped and wire brushed, and the whole thing was treated to a thorough paint job. The battery was replaced as were some of the more cranky bits and it wasn't long (five days in fact) before we were all done. It looked very respectable considering the amount of work and time spent and the Manifold Valley show was upon us. Without more ado, I hitched up and with the Fordson "F" and "N" enjoying the ride I made off for the show ground. The weather was kind, the people were there and so was I.
Into the enclosure, Parked the Major by the embankment. Showed the exhibits, won a trophy had a great time..... went to get the Major.... saw the crowd....looking down the embankment!!! .....Broke down in tears!!! God only knows.....I felt sick to my stomach, there was my Major lying on it's back, at the bottom of the hill, front axle snapped, rear wheels buckled, tank crushed.
I was just out of it! I stumbled down in disbelief not being able to comprehend how or why. People joined me and they were good enough to help me get it back on it's wheels.
I got a tow to the show ground where I left it in the corner, I hitched up with the Model N and took a very slow drive home. It must have taken an eternity to get back but I can't remember. I didn't even unhitch, I just dropped into the sofa with a cup of tea and thought....well thats it - now I've got Major problems!!!