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Owners of vintage tractors have been unable to purchase tractor vapourising oil (TVO) since 1974, when commercial production ceased. The only option has been for owners to mix their own (kerosene, petrol and diesel in differing quantities depending on your recipe). As kerosene is a rebated fuel, it has made it illegal to use the fuel on public roads. Technically it has also been illegal to use the tractor on private land (running on TVO) if it is also registered for use on the road.

HMRC have issued guidance on this issue:-

“HMRC have agreed to issue a General Licence under regulation 43 of the Hydrocarbon Oil Regulations 1973 to enable individual owners to mix the rebated kerosene with other road fuels for use in vintage tractors constructed before 1960. The rebated kerosene may be obtained from Registered Dealers in Controlled Oil in the normal manner. Rebated gas oil, ‘red diesel’, may only be used in the mixture if the tractor is performing bona fide agricultural, horticultural or forestry work pursuant to the Hydrocarbon Oil Duties Act 1979, Schedule 1 section 2.

The concession is subject to :

  • Mixing will only be permitted in the fuel tanks of the vehicles concerned.
  • The mixed fuel is not to be used in any other vehicle.
  • The fuel must not be mixed in bulk for resale.
  • Any breach of the terms of the licence may constitute an offence.”

Remember, bona fide agricultural work excludes social, domestic and pleasure activities such as rallies, shows, ploughing matches or road runs. Your fuel oil supplier may wish to see your licence before they deliver kerosene.

Vintage Tractor Engineer recommends pouring the individual components into the tractor fuel tank and then relying on natural turbulence to complete the mixing – this is the safest way to blend the fuels. It would seem that “tractors constructed before 1960? includes tractors manufactured after that date provided that the model was introduced prior to 1960 (eg. a 1961 Massey Ferguson 35 TVO, as the model was introduced before 1960).

Related information…..

TVO recipes    

Ferguson FE35 Vapourising Oil, thermostats, jets and identification

Alan Coutts says:

February 5th, 2008 at 8:34 pm
Could someone help me please. I have just purchased a 35 petrol/tvo and now got it running on petrol. What mix would I use in the other tank (kerosine/petrol?) Thanks

The Vintage Tractor Engineer says:

February 7th, 2008 at 4:37 pm
Hi Allan,

FOFH give some good guidance on mixing TVO. This is what they say….

There must only ever be 2 ingredients in TVO

1. Petrol (unleaded is absolutely fine for a Ferguson tractor) 98 Octane.
2. 28 Second Heating Oil 20 Octane.

Aim for an Octane value between 55 and 70.

55 if doing very hard work
70 if doing topping and the like
To give you some idea of the sums:-

1 part petrol and 1 part heating oil comes out at 59 Octane.
2 parts petrol and 1 part heating oil comes out at 72 Octane.
1 part petrol and 2 parts heating oil comes out at 46 Octane.
Petrol on its own is suitable for road runs (with the heat shield removed).

Octane is not the only factor, but it provides a good guide.

Diesel fuel is designed to cause ignition by compression and will encourage pinking. It is not designed to burn in TVO tractors, and no upper cylinder lubricant is required in these tractors, so do not use anything other than petrol and heating oil.

Using fuel which does not burn completely will destroy the lubricating properties of the oil and that (in a Ferguson TE tractor) will result in wear to the cam shaft bushes and then loss of oil pressure from cam shaft bushes. Loss of oil pressure will, then result in damage to the crank shaft. Lubricating oil in a TVO tractor’s engine should be changed according to the Tractor Instruction book.

GasiousClay says:

March 18th, 2008 at 7:59 pm
For those of you who don’t know, tractor vaporising oil (or TVO) is a fuel for internal combustion engines, produced from paraffin (kerosene). In the United Kingdom and Australia, after the Second World War, it was commonly used for tractors until diesel engines became commonplace. In Australian English it was known as power kerosene.

alan says:

April 19th, 2008 at 7:09 am
I am slightly confused . Is kerosene actually paraffin or a derivitave of it. I thought that paraffin was still readily available in the UK?

Bob says:

August 16th, 2008 at 3:15 pm
hi, does anybody now the timing order for a ferguson te20 tvo??!!

The Vintage Tractor Engineer says:

August 21st, 2008 at 5:39 am

Do you want the firing order? The TED firing order is 1,3,4,2. This covers all versions of the VO engine.


mark chapman says:

November 24th, 2008 at 8:17 am
Anybody out there able to help, I live in Deal, Kent. I cannot seems to be able to buy small amounts of 28 sec heating Oil, I only need between 20 – 50 litres at any one time, this will last best part of a year !!! all the suplliers here deliver a minimum of 205 ltrs or 500 litres. This high quantity shall go off before I get half way through it. Anyone able to help. thanks Mark.