Ayrshire Vintage Tractor & Machinery Club

John Caldwell
January/February 1999
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Selection of M-H tractors at our rally.

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Kelk Cottage Crosshouse by Kilmamock Scotland, KA2 OBG

I write to you as a GEM reader of many years. I am a founding member of Ayrshire Vintage Tractor & Machinery Club. We exchange newsletters with two clubs in USA as well as others in Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa.

In 1996, we were hosts to C. H. Wendel and a party of vintage enthusiasts from USA. Ye Olde Reflector is an honorary member of our club.

Readers may be interested in some of our club activities. 1998 was our 17th annual Rally, when we featured Nuffield tractors and Land Rover rough terrain vehicles. Both had completed 50 years since they were first produced. The turnout of vehicles and spectators was excellent. The snag, however, was that our very wet summer produced one of our wettest weekends. It all ended in a mud bath.

In previous years, we had celebrated 50 years of Ferguson and 150 years of Massey Harris.

When Ferguson produced his TE 20 in 1947, it was of great benefit to British farming, which was beginning to recover from World War II. The first Fergusons produced at Coventry were equipped with Continental gas engines from USA. Subsequently, a Ferguson distillate engine was introduced, and later, when 200 thousand had been built, diesel models became available.

Two unique tractors were on show that year. From the Ferguson Factory Museum, we had on display the tractor which was part of the Sir Edmond Hillary's historic expedition, which in 1958 drove 1200 miles, in the worst terrain known to man, to reach the South Pole. For the journey, it had been fitted with full tyre tracks. Sue, as the tractor was affectionately known, was in the condition in which she arrived home from the Pole. Her trip to Scotland would likely be her last, as she is now restored and permanently on show at the Massey Ferguson Museum in Coventry. The other tractor of special interest was a TE20, which had been driven by Harry Ferguson himself. In 1952, the owner Alex Howat was transporting a binder to do contract work near his Ayrshire home, when a large Bentley, with a driver in uniform, stopped in front of him. The passenger who stepped out was Harry Ferguson, who was on holiday with his wife and daughter. He questioned Alex on the tractor's performance, before asking permission to drive it himself. Before leaving, Harry Ferguson commented on the tractor's condition and wished Alex well. The tractor is now restored and has been fitted with a Perkins P3 Diesel engine. The Massey-Harris 150th celebration year also brought out a large selection of tractors. In addition to the Rally, we took a selection of M-H machinery to the factory at Kilmamock, where Massey built tractors and combines from 1948 until 1980. Old employees were invited to attend the gathering. An afternoon was spent reminiscing among their former workmates, and pointing out the part they had played in building the machines on display.

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