The GMB guide to the Grey Fergie tractor
(Ferguson TE20 TEA20 TED20 TEF20 etc.)


A few years ago we took the opportunity to buy some agricultural land. We did not know any detail about farming or land management so had to find out for ourselves. It quickly became apparent that "scale" is an issue, so a tractor was going to be required for such things as managing large areas of grass and weeds, cultivating on a small-holding scale and lifting heavy things. I thought I would share some of our experience of owning a vintage tractor for use rather than show. Like many subjects, a lot of things about agriculture are "easy when known", but not so easy to find out in the first place because everyone knows it already. Because modern tractors are expensive, and because the first time you start on something new you often get it wrong, we decided to buy a cheap tractor first to find out about tractors, so next time we would know what to buy.

We decided to start with a Ferguson TEA20 for these reasons:

Of course, being the first modern tractor there were bound to be some issues with it and there are several.

So once you have bought your TEA20, fitted it with roll bar, seat belt, position control, handbrake and perhaps even a low ratio gearbox, you realise that what you should have bought is one of the 35 series tractors (FE35 or MF35) where most of these issues are fixed (except the safety ones). The 35 series are a little less iconic than the 20 series but they are a lot more "modern" and usable (get the deluxe version for live-drive) and a little more powerful (but not as much as you might expect as the 20 series was somewhat conservatively rated).

A few other things to note if you do want to buy a 20 series tractor:

Some notes on front loaders. As far as I am aware there are 3 different front loaders that were made to fit the 20 series tractors.

They vary in convenience and lifting capability. But they are all nothing like a modern loader and are much harder to use I am sure. The main issue is that they have single action rams so they only power upwards, the downwards action is under gravity.
The other big issue is that they tap into the hydraulic power of the rear linkage and this is where things get difficult. There doesn't seem to be a way to isolate the hydraulic power to the rear so the rear linkage is operating at the same time as the loader rams - except this doesn't quite work because of the safety vent that operates as the rear arms reach maximum height. So to operate a loader (or anything using the hydraulic feed) the rear arms have to be locked in place using the "T bar", which kind of doubles as a towing attachment. You just use the hydraulic control lever to either obtain pressure or vent it. This is where the lack of live hydraulics really bites because when you hit the clutch you loose the pump. So scooping up a bucket full of stuff is quite involved for the driver. You have to drive into the pile, then engage neutral while you run the pump to lift the bucket. So hard work, but think of how little it cost!