Obtaining and Restoring A Ransome Crawler


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Howard Cooney Auto Sales Inc. 101 Front Street Belleville, Ontario, Canada K8N 2Y6

Being in the automobile business and naturally interested in machines you can imagine my interest when I first saw this little crawler tractor at the summer home of Dr. and Mrs. Tom Morley, friends of my wife.

The tractor is a 1949 Model MG5 Ransome Garden Tractor, Serial #4504, complete with Ransome Trailed Plough Model #TS42A.

The tractor had been purchased new in England by Mrs. Morley's father and was used in his garden. Unfortunately he rolled it over on himself and his family discouraged him from using it and it was then shipped to Canada to be used by Dr. Morley, primarily for digging furrows for tree re-forestation. It arrived in a wooden crate which for many years served as its own garage.

You can also imagine my pleasure when Dr. Morley, seeing my interest in the tractor, explained that he no longer had use for it and that I could have the tractor subject to caring for it and hopefully someday restoring it to its original condition.

The restoration was helped on by the coming of the 1986 International Plowing Match near our home in Stirling, Ontario, as we wanted to have it ready and displayed there. Our work was worthwhile as it created much interest with many favourable comments as to its uniqueness and quality of the restoration.

Fortunately, Dr. Morley, realizing when he obtained the tractor that someday parts would be obsolete, or at least difficult to find, had written away to Ransome's in the 1960's and obtained new rings, gaskets, valves, etc. in case they might ever be needed. Needless to say the engine rebuild was straightforward and simple.

I was also fortunate to receive with the tractor several original advertising brochures and service manuals which are rather amusing to read in the 'quaint English manner.' For instance, in their detailed description of driving a new machine they tell the driver 'he can take his place on the seat once the engine is ticking over and by moving the gear to the forward position, he can then move off.'

These manuals were very helpful in our restoration as we dismantled the machine down to the very last nut and bolt, sandblasted all body parts and repainted it to the original bright red and blue. The Ransome Company was also helpful as they looked through their records to obtain original paint codes and sent them from England along with a Coat of Arms transfer decal that was used on the MG5.

About the Company and Machine

The first commercially successful Ransome tractor was the MG2, announced in 1936, the first of a series of MG Mini-crawlers which held a small specialized share of the tractor market for thirty (30) years.

Total production of MG tractors amounted to approximately 15,000, or an average of 500 a year, including the War Years when production was temporarily halted and the Post-War period when Ransome made 1,000 tractors a year at the peak of the MG's popularity.

The little tractors were highly unconventional in design. For example, the flywheel incorporated a centrifugal clutch which disengaged when the engine speed fell below 500 RPM. The drive from the clutch is taken through reduction gears to the two crownwheels and differential gearing. One crownwheel produced a forward gear, while the second gave reverse.

Power from the differential is transmitted by spur gears to the front track sprockets. The tractor is steered by a pair of levers, each acting as a brake on one side of the tracks, so that the differential acts to speed up the unbraked track. The tracks can be adjusted to send varying row widths and are rubber joined.

In its original form the MG2 was powered by a Sturmey Archer 6 HP engine, which was an air-cooled, single-cylinder unit. In the MG5, which replaced the MG2 in 1949, the power was raised to 7.25 HP at 2100 RPM, which produced 4.5 HP at the drawbar. The final version, the MG40 was equipped with a 10 HP diesel engine.

With its light weight-1,400 pounds for the MG5, and seventy-four (74) inch length most demand for Ransome Tractors came from nurserymen and market gardeners. The ploughing rate for the MG5 was about one acre per eight hour day, which would have been unacceptable on a larger acreage. There were some other markets for the MG's including Tanzania, where they were used to scrape salt from the surface of inland salt pans, and also Holland, where the tractors were popular in some areas because they were small enough to be ferried across drainage dykes in small boats.

Today the tractor sits in our indoor showroom where it gives us much pleasure and creates a great deal of interest. Hardly a day goes by without someone coming in just to see what it is. We hope to show it in the future at local farm fairs and machinery shows.