TEA P3 Ferguson Tractor



Click the play button to listen to the distinctive P3 Engine note.

This tractor was purchased by my brother in November 1996 as a partially dismantled wreck but equipped with several interesting and useful options that were available for Ferguson tractors during the 1950's.

Originally the tractor was an early Ferguson TEA 20(petrol with 6 volt electric's) but was fitted with a Perkins P3(TA) diesel engine upgrade kit. The engine kit included 12 volt electric's, brackets that raise the radiator, fuel tank and bonnet, and an infill panel between the bonnet and the dashboard. This tractor is believed to be one of about 6 conversions performed in Launceston by British Farm Mechanisation Co. a division of Max Geeves Pty Ltd who were the sole Tasmanian Ferguson agents. The Perkins P3(TA) conversion kits were imported and sold by another company: Peter G. Hayes, who were located in Wellington St., Launceston.

The Perkins P3(TA) conversion develops 34BHP at 2000 RPM, significantly more than the normal Ferguson 20 tractor. The marketing opportunity for the Perkins P3 conversion kit lay in the fact that the Standard motor Co. manufactured diesel engine supplied by Ferguson, being about 1 inch longer could not readily be fitted to existing TE 20 petrol or TVO (Kerosene) tractors. Frank Perkins used the Perkins P3 conversion kit to convince Harry Ferguson that the Perkins 3 cylinder diesel engine was suitable for future Ferguson tractor.

The tractor gearbox is fitted with an additional Howard high-low range gearbox, providing a total of 8 forward and two reverse gear ratios. The Howard high-low gearbox provides approximately 4:1 reduction provided by rather crude straight cut gears. It can be difficult to find a unit that has not been wrecked by trying to drive with the gears not correctly engaged. This unit however needed little attention and was simply cleaned and reinstalled. Howard made available the high-low range gearbox to allow for relatively low ground speeds with high P.T.O. speed required by their rotavators and slashers.

Presumably, due to the increased horsepower from the P3 engine and the increased torque in low range, a Ferguson TEF 20 rear end with heavier axles was fitted at some stage.

The tractor was almost completely dismantled and paint removed to bare metal. Most parts were primed with cold galvanising paint and finished in engine enamel. For durability the mudguards, dashboard and bonnet parts were all finished in acrylic lacquer.

The steering box, gearbox, hydraulics and differential parts were cleaned and inspected. The clutch was replaced, as were all the seals and many bearings and bushes throughout. Several parts considered too damaged or worn were replaced by parts in good condition from wrecked tractors.

The Perkins P3 engine was already partly dismantled and required to be fully rebuilt with reground crankshaft, new pistons, rings, sleeves, bearings, small end bushes, valves, valve guides and timing chain. Both the block and the head were machined to provide the maximum allowable compression ratio. The injection pump and injectors were cleaned and tested and found to be working perfectly despite evidence of years of neglect. All this work was performed with little or no written information or pictures to follow as dealers and suppliers today had no knowledge of this engine having been fitted to the TEA Ferguson tractor. So finding new replacement parts was a bit of a challenge.

The tractor now drives and performs well and is put to work in a variety of tasks spanning from cutting and raking hay to towing trailers. The P3 has also been used successfully for ploughing and will easily pull a three furrow Ferguson mould board plough through the heaviest sticky clay based soils.

Condition of the P3 tractor upon inspection

P3 under restoration

P3 engine left note: fuel tank position and raditor brackets

P3 engine right note: bonnet position

This image clearly shows the bonnet infill panel and the smaller steering wheel required

P3 and Ferguson plough ready for work

Original sales brochure for the P3(TA) conversion