My Latest Addition - MF 35x



MF 35x at Work Mowing Hay

Like most Grey Fergy owners I recognise that the little Grey Fergy does have it's limitations. The 35 to my mind is a far more usable tractor if there's a bit of work to be done. The 35x with the three cylinder diesel is a great piece of engineering encompassing Harry Fergusons designs and principals with Frank Perkins superior diesel engine. The 35x also has such benefits as a rear end diff lock.

I recently got a lead on a 35x that was in need of a bit of work and TLC and would come up to scratch. I went and had a look at it and I was tempted to purchase this machine. The tractor had been used for running a PTO water pump for the last part of its life. The farmer backed it into a shed near the dam and simply hooked it up. When he wanted to shift some water he went down to the dam and dumped a jerry can of diesel in it and started it up. When it ran out of fuel it stopped, simple as that. He had fitted a remote engine watchdog protection system, this was a complicated set of hoses and really detracted from the look of the machine. The first task was to disconnect all this system and put the tractor back to normal.

With this complete it was time to park the tractor into the shed and start pulling it to bits. There was a couple of jobs I wanted to do and the first job was to prevent the lift arms from dropping too quickly when the tractor was switched off. We removed the top cover and removed the hydraulic pump from the depths of the back end of the tractor. With this on the bench we set to and removed the control valve. The valve was found to be a bit of a step back from the Grey Fergy days - Funny how engineers take a good simple robust idea and tinker with it and stuff it all up. I purchased a new control valve assembly and rebuilt the pump without to many other dramas. We cleaned the accumulated muck out of the back end and replaced everything with out to many problems. The out come of this work is satisfactory but I should have also replaced the piston rings to really solve the problem of the lift arms dropping completely.

View of the Workings of the Backend of a 35x

The brakes required some attention because the tractor didn't seem to want to stop at all. Upon removal of the brake drums it became evident, somebody had a problem with some bonded brake linings splitting off the shoes. Solution to this problem back the brakes off on this side of the tractor and only use one set, I hope it lived on a level block of land. We replaced the axle oil seals and rebuilt the complete brake system using new brake shoes. The tractor now stops as well as any 35 I've driven.

The next major problem was the front end of the tractor. The axle pin had worn the front housing quite badly and I had to remove the housing and take it to work and machine the holes back to round and machine some bushes to take up the the wear. The pin also needed to be built up with weld and turned back to true in the lathe. Both the radius arms where also badly bent and required straightening in the press. With all this work the front end was ready for reassemble. With this complete the wheels seemed to point in a straight line again instead of been decidedly club footed.

The next task was set to and strip it right down for a respray job. We stripped it right down to basically a bear chasis and ground the rust and flakey paint off and gave it a through degreasing before applying 1 coat of undercoat, 3 coats of color top coat and 1 coat of 2 pack clear gloss paint to complete the job.

Tractor Cleaned and Ready for Respray

Tractor After Painting Ready for Reassemble

The last job is the worst of all, funny how I always leave the worst to last. The bonnet had been severely fiddled with and was in a bit of a sorry state. I believe there was at least four liters of body filler used in the bonnet. Grinding all this out left me with a bonnet that had not been panel beaten at all just covered all the dents and shape problems with body filler. Also somebody decided the bonnet sides needed to be welded on instead of bolted as per original. I cut the sides off and using another pair of sides did a cut and shut job to end up with a pair of usable sides to suit the 3 cylinder diesel. I found that the 3 cylinder diesel has different sides to all the other 35 tractors. The bonnet then required quite a lot of rework to then rebolt these sides back on again. The panel beating and straightening and realigning work continued until it was somewhere approaching original again.

Mudguards where my next job these fortunately only required a clean and respray job. With all this work complete the tractor was ready for work again. The tractor is envisaged for work and I have got carried away with my clean up job and the tractor is now ready for show work instead. I will have to be careful using it for real work.

Here is the completed 35x.