Lanz Success Leads To Field Marshal

By Staff
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The decompressed roller for two revolutions of the flywheel
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Foam insulation stripping

Veterans Row Westbury, Tasmania, Australia 7303

Since my article on restoring a 1938 Lanz Bulldog in the May
1988 GEM issue, I have been delighted to see a number of articles
appearing on the Lanz tractors. I finished my tractor soon after
the story appeared, and it has been fitted with the full rear
fenders and sign written with the original dealer’s name on the
flywheel covers. Learning the correct starting procedure had been
largely trial and error; most Lanzs used a blow-lamp to heat up the
cylinder head, but as mine was a road/farm dual-purpose model it
was fitted from new with petrol injection and a trembler coil to
fire a spark plug as on a normal engine.

It was found that the best way to get ‘motor ovation’
was to set the injector nozzle screwed down to deliver a wide fan
of fuel into the hot-bowl and to set the fuel control lever wide
open to the 630 r.p.m. position. With the steering wheel already
placed in the end of the crankshaft, two squirts of fuel are primed
into the hot-bowl via the fuel pump, the trembler coil ignited and
a hard swing given on the steering wheel. When the engine fired you
could bet it would be running the wrong way and you would have to
reverse the engine rotation. Once up and running, a change over to
fuel oil could be accomplished in five minutes, but recently this
system of starting has become quite unreliable, with the engine
giving just enough of a cough to keep you swinging the wheel, but
refusing to pick up regardless of having fuel and spark. So after
collapsing in a heap under the starting wheel and uttering some
choice vocab, Father and I decided that there must be a better way.
The hot-bowl is removed and it is naturally flooded with petrol.
After having the fuel pump and injector rebuilt, I began to

‘If I had a blow lamp I bet I could have it going in 10
minutes,’ comes a reply from the background. This comment came
from another Lanz owner from the Australian mainland. ‘Why
don’t you start it the proper way, with the lamp; it’s all
we use in Victoria.’

My reply was a polite, ‘Well, it’s the only system
I’ve used and it came factory fitted, but if you can find a
lamp, you’re welcome to try it.’

We managed to borrow a lamp from a fellow two-stroke owner and
our man proceeded to heat up the hot-bowl. After a rather tense
couple of minutes, two pumps were given on the pump, one swing on
the wheel, and you guessed it, away she went! Well I had a large
serve of humble pie and I now realized that a lamp is the only way
to go for starting, as it never failed on two attempts at

The photo of my Lanz Was taken while running in our backyard and
successfully covering all and sundry with a healthy emission of two
stroke lubricant from both the exhaust and by-pass pipes. All this
simply adds to the aura of owning a two-stroke.

After restoring and coming to grips with the Lanz, I decided I
must have another two-stroke in our collection, but what type? A
McDonald Imperial? As only two came to our island state, slim
chance. An H.S.C.S.? Well, these are rarer than a McDonald (in our
state anyway), with two coming here on demonstration only and
disappearing without a trace.

Well, that leaves us with a Marshall, but which Marshall? A
12-20 perhaps? Or maybe a later Field Marshall version, Series 1, 2
or 3 ?

We found only one 12-20 Marshall in the possession of an elderly
gentleman who could no longer swing the engine over compression to
start it. He was extremely fond of it, and declined to part with
it. A while later we discovered a very original Series 3- the same
one my father drove new from the dealership to his then employer.
After offering more than a fair amount (due to sentimentality), our
offer was declined, the owner reluctant to retire a tractor he
considered to be more than capable of doing a hard day’s work.
Well, never mind, all we can do is keep looking. Keeping in mind
that I wanted a tractor in good mechanical condition, things began
to look bleak. We found quite a few more Series 3 Marshalls but all
had either broken or were on their way with small end bearings
being the major cause of stoppage.

Why so many failures? Mainly due to the small end bearing being
a needle roller setup, and as the oil reservoir needed to be
checked every six hours. Many people forgot this, especially when
using the tractor overnight to drive irrigation pumps, a job which
they could run at full load and use less than one gallon of fuel an
hour. A seizure invariably meant the needle rollers welding
themselves inside the piston; rebuilding an engine ruined to this
extent would consume more time and money than I could afford (even
if I could get the parts). Remembering that we had at least 50 more
tractors awaiting restoration, we left the ‘sick’ Series
3’s and decided to wait, which we didn’t have to do for
long. One evening the phone rang.

‘Would you be interested in a good Field Marshall?’

‘Well yes, but how good?’ was Dad’s reply.

‘I bought her new in ’48 and always kept the oil

‘1948, must be a Series 2,’ Dad mused. ‘Has it got a
diff lock fitted?’

‘No, but it has two hand brake levers and a 3 speed

‘Yes, you have a Series 2 all right, but how much are you

‘Come and view it first,’ was his reply.

Dad replaced the receiver and informed Mother that we would be
going for a Sunday drive, followed by the usual wife’s
repertoire of the possibility of more ‘junk’ coming

Following our given directions, we arrived at an area we
couldn’t see as being right, no cleared land, just dense
bushland. It was then we saw an elderly gentleman trudging down
this long gravel road in his boots. We wound down the car window
and politely asked, ‘Excuse us, can you possibly tell us where
to find a certain Mr. Norman Bradford?’

He removed his hat and gave his head a scratch. ‘Norman
Bradford? Never heard of him, guess you must be well and truly

We looked at our map, then at each other, muttered a few choice
words and checked the map again. The elderly gentleman watched us
with amusement and said, ‘You’d be the Shaws from The
Vintage Tractor Shed.’ We looked at each other again, and Dad
said, ‘Yes, and you’d have to be Norman Bradford,
wouldn’t you?’

‘One and only,’ he says. ‘Had you guys

We jokingly threatened to drive off without him, but we let him
step in the car and continued down the long road. A few minutes
later we arrived at Norman’s home settled in an idyllic setting
with a creek nearby. I couldn’t see any sign of a tractor
around here though. After a quick tour around we were led uphill
into the bush, and there under the trees sat a very straight Series
2 Field Marshall tractor, serial #10301. It still had three
original tyres on it, thankfully the 19 inch fronts were perfect as
they are only obtainable ex New Zealand. The chaff screen on the
radiator was still in good order, as were the rear fenders, these
sustaining only light damage, and the optional Burgess oil bath air
pre-cleaner had been fitted. In fact the only thing missing was the
rear seat which had rusted out as the tractor hadn’t seen a
shed in years.

‘Can we hear it running?’ Dad asked.

‘Sure,’ replied Norman and I wondered who was going to
draw the short straw and swing the starting handle, which was about
three feet long and two inches in diameter.

‘Nope, won’t need that,’ said Norman, as I moved to
pick up the handle. ‘I haven’t used it in years.’

We watched in amusement as Norman released the park brake and
rolled down the slope to a clearer area. He set the throttle and
the decompressor roller for two revolutions of the flywheel. Next,
a piece of ignition paper was placed in the holder at the front of
the cylinder head and ignited. Norman selected top gear and in
about five feet the Marshall burst into life with that sharp
‘pom pom’ exhaust note my father remembers so well. Right
away I could hear the difference in the running of the Marshall,
being a full compression ignition diesel and Lanz being surface
ignition semi-diesel, the Marshall really bouncing every time I
fired. I listened to the engine carefully, no rattle from the small
end bearing, just good old diesel knock. Good, she’s healthy

‘Told you she’s been well maintained mechanically,’
replied Norman.

‘Certainly has,’ I replied. ‘How much do you want
for the old girl, Norman?’

‘Take her for a drive first and see what you think
then,’ he said with a smile.

Well, the steering was going to need a bit of work; we got three
turns on the lock one way and two the other, as the pitman arms had
been welded on out of position. Apart from that, I couldn’t
fault it, no smoke from the exhaust (unless you roused the motor
up) and shut the engine down. From the look on my face he knew I
was hooked. We settled on a price the same as we previously offered
for the good Series 3, so I was pretty happy.

Upon taking delivery a week later it was a sad parting for
Norman as he watched us depart with his workhorse of some forty
years, but I was determined to have it look eventually as it did in
the agent’s showroom.

First job was to burn out the exhaust, as quite a few sparks
were being emitted from it. After lighting it, nothing happened
until we tipped the exhaust upright, and boy, did we have a fire
then! Red Adair couldn’t put it out!

The exhaust port was amazingly clean, not even needing a
de-coke. As with the Lanz, it was not deemed necessary to touch the
engine, considering how well it ran. However, wheels, bonnet, tank,
guards, platform and wheels were all removed and the tractor placed
on jack stands. The frame/chassis was the first thing to be
prepared for painting, firstly with a lot of wire brushing and
sandpaper, followed up with a lot of buffing with steel wool to
give a glass smooth surface. A preliminary coat of red oxide primer
was applied, followed by a coat of green rustproof enamel
undercoat. All body work was taken back to metal by hand, which
took a lot of patience, before being painted in the same manner as
the chassis, except this time a heavy coat of grey automotive
primer was brushed onto all panels before being wet sanded by hand.
This was followed by another coat of red oxide to prepare for the
top coat of auto enamel. Jaguar British Racing Green was found to
be a perfect match, and thankfully we got a hot sunny day which
made the paint glide on beautifully.

The gearshift pattern was detailed in silver, and the badge
work, which had been buffed and polished, was fixed in position on
the nose panel and bonnet side.

The back platform had been severely rusted and pitted from
standing out, and since we welded a new step in, it took some
lining up as some distortion had taken place. Foam insulation
stripping was attached to the inside edges of the bonnet to guard
against vibration and possible scratching, rear fenders were bolted
up which again took doing, as the straightened guards did not want
to make up to now de-dented guards.

The hand brake levers were a huge problem, as they had to be
fitted after the guards had been mounted, which meant they had to
be guided up from the undersides of the floor panel and slid into
splines, there being no room to force them on (which we naturally
had to do). We succeeded, but only after losing a bit of paint. The
seat Dad made was bolted on its support and a new upholstered
cushion fitted. The steering box had been sent away and had new
splines cut into the sector shaft for the pitman arm, so while
jacked up the steering wheel was given plenty of exercise to loosen
things up a little. New copper drain pipes were fitted to the
exhaust and engine pipe, and all we needed to complete things now
was some original silver striping and some union jacks as decorated
on many special show models I luckily had photos of.

I contacted a friend who is a professional sign writer, and left
him with some original sales material to study. He agreed to make a
start one night after work. I must admit I was worried about the
side striping, as I thought removing the masking tape would remove
some of the paint or feather the edges of the stripework. No
worries, he had a special tape which applied itself like
conventional pinstripe, a couple of careful brushstrokes later he
quickly removed the tape leaving a beautiful straight edge. The
unfurled union jacks were hand painted the next week over the
previously painted white background, which certainly brightened up
the green paintwork.

After another week we decided to attempt the first start up in
twelve months. After consuming 20 litres of diesel to prime the
fuel system I knew not to let it ever run dry. The oil pump was
primed via 50 turns of a hand crank behind the flywheel to
pre-lubricate the engine, and we were ready for action. We towed
the Marshall into our backyard, remembering all the unnerving
stories of handles sticking in flywheels and causing severe harm to
one’s pride and underwear. The ignition holder was removed from
the cylinder head and the well greased handle slipped into the end
of the flywheel and rotated until a reassuring squawk of fuel
injected into the cylinder was heard.

‘Would you rather I swung her over?’ asked Tim, our
right hand man.

Now, I was not about to say I was intimidated by the thought of
swinging my own tractor over, but as Tim’s a lot stronger than
me I figured he could swing that handle over compression easier
than 1.

‘Only if you insist,’ I replied with a smile.

Okay, action stations all! I rolled up an ignition paper
(blotting paper soaked in saltpetre solution and dried), and placed
it in the holder. A last-minute check on the decompression roller
(4 winds), and I ignited the paper. As soon as it began to glow
fiercely, I screwed it into the head as far as my trembling hands
would allow. As soon as the holder was screwed home, I told Tim to
start winding, which he did, building up speed quickly until the
roller left the flywheel with a clunk and Tim was rocked back
violently by the starting handle. Oh well, I guess hoping for a
start first up in 12 months was a bit ambitious, so we set the
decompression roller again and swung the engine over with the fuel
shut off and the ignition paper removed. This was to clean out the
combustion chamber of excess fuel. Tim was raring to go on the
handle once again, so once more an ignition paper was lit and
screwed home quickly. This time after four winds the roller left
the flywheel and immediately the engine fired. As if to say
‘told you,’ the handle was ejected simply and easily. In
fact, you could be in more danger when the handle swings back off
compression during a failure to start. Once the engine starts
firing, it builds up speed very quickly, and once running smoothly
it can be shut down to a steady thump around 450-500 r.p.m.;
anything lower than this and you would be bounced to death!

As before, we had a good clean exhaust under idle, and this time
it was great to have a seat to sit on. We selected a gear and
headed off up the yard, the first time in 12 months under its own

We telephoned Norman that evening and informed him that we had
finished restoring his old workhorse, and he was eager to know how
it turned out.

‘Well, you had better come and drive it in the grand parade
at our show next week.’

‘Really? Yes, of course I’ll be there,’ Norman

The next week it was bright and sunny as I departed down the
road to the local showground. It was then I discovered the
limitations of a 6 mph top gear, especially when I got rounded up
by Oliver 70’s and similar hot rods.

Upon arriving at the grounds, I could see that we had a good
selection of Marshalls from all over the state, 12-20’s through
to Series 3. It was then that I saw one gentleman admiring my new
arrival more excitedly than anyone else, pointing it out to all the
people around him. Looking more carefully, I saw it was Norman,
complete with family, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

‘Yes, that one’s mine!’ he exclaimed, pointing at
the one original British Firestone tyre on the rear .

We exchanged greetings and discussed aspects of the restoration.
He was in fact surprised we had gone to all the trouble of making
and upholstering a seat, but he was even more surprised at us
cranking the engine by hand. Again the engine started easily, and
we invited Norman to go for a drive.

I was sure that he had a tear in his eye as he stepped off.
After having his photo taken on the Marshall with his
great-grandson, his sense of humour came to the fore again, as Dad
arrived on the scene and asked Norman what he thought of his
restored tractor.

‘Very nice, but I thought you were going to paint it!’
was his reply as he laughed, remembering our first meeting on that
gravel road.

Norman’s Marshall is now proudly parked in our museum
opposite its German nemesis, the Lanz Bulldog, two single cylinder
two-strokes together. I guess another would be nice … !

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