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TEA-20 Hydraulic Relief Valve Problem

Broken hydraulic top covers are a relatively common problem with Ferguson TE-20 tractors.  The easiest solution for most people is to source a second hand component.

The earlier tractors had the relief valve fitted to the pump, whilst the later tractors had the valve integrated into the top cover.


Hydraulic top cover, Ferguson TE-20 tractor


It is therefore necessary to ensure that when replacing a later style top cover (with the integrated releif valve) that either the same design of top cover is used or a releif valve is fitted into the system somehow.

So how can this be achieved?


Option One

We’ve already mentioned that the earlier pumps had a releif valve fitted to the pump itself.

The later pumps had a blanking plate over where the valve was fitted, so it is simply a case of removing the blanking plate and fitting a new relief valve.

This is the option that Keith took with his  TEF-20 when faced with this situation.


Option Two

This isn’t as neat as the internal valve option,  but it would never the less do the job and get your tractor going.

An off-the-shelf pressure releif valve could be plumbed into one of the external ports with a return back to the reservoir.  Normally returns would be plumbed in below the oil reservoir  to prevent foaming, but this shouldn’t be strictly necessary for the odd occasion that a relief valve would operate.

Once fitted, start with it slack and then adjust upwards to the specified pressure using a pressure gauge.


The Question That Prompted This Post

A question came in from New Zealand which prompted us to write this post.  Here’s the question…

Hi from New Zealand,

I purchased a copy of your DVD on TE-20 Hydraulics a couple of months back. It is excellent and I could not have asked for more.

My problem is salt water has got in via the PTO and I have had a major refurbishment and cleanup on my hands.

All ready to put it back together and have hit a major problem with the top lift cover. The arms are frozen and clearly salt water/emulisified oil has meant a total sieze up. We cannot shift the arms off to get the bushes or spline out. Incidently my TEA is a 1956 serial 517+. It was one of the last 750 ever built.

The solution was to purchase a replacement top cover. It arrived last week and sadly is off an earlier model, and the poppet type safety valve is missing. Mine does not fit as its the later ball type per your video. I am tearing my hair out as I cannot locate the correct poppet valve. Seems there is more than one size of earlier editions. My new replacement cover has a much smaller diameter hole.

A question for you>>>

Can I just blank it off and have no valve at all?  I only use the Fergie for boat launching so there is no extreme hydraulic pressure being exerted on the unit anyway. If that’s not possible, then can I modify the ball type valve assembly, or the larger diameter poppet valve that I am the proud owner of!  Thanks for any assistance.


It is clearly too dangerous to have a system without a relief valve in there.  One mistake by the operator (or an unsuspecting operator) and you could easily end up looking for another top cover; or worse still, have an accident.

If you are unable to source the parts you need then hopefully one of the options highlighted above will work for you.

The Vintage Tractor Engineer (VTE)

FE35 – Red And Grey or Bronze And Grey?

Vilhelm has sent in some photos from Sweden of his father’s FE35, which he is intending to restore and bring back to its former glory.  It’s an FE35, 23C engine and serial number SDM28837.

This serial number would date the tractor to 1957, and would also mean it should be painted bronze and grey.  The bronze (or gold) and grey tractors were produced up until serial no. 74655.

Vilhelm would like to know what people think…

  • Has it been repainted at some time in its life?
  • When he restores the tractor, what colour should he paint it?
  • What about the cab? Anyone know what type it is? When would it have been fitted? What colour shoud it be?

Let’s Take A Look At The Tractor

As you can see from the photos below, it’s going to make an good restoration project.  The loader, the cab, the lights – all make for something quite interesting.  The extension mudguards – seemingly home made, and good for safety – but should they remain or should they be removed?

The second photograph is the most interesting to Vintage Tractor Engineer.  It is clear to see that the ID plate has got red paint oversprayed onto the edges.  This must be a good indication that the tractor has been re-painted.  Do you agree or disagree?

VTE has seen many tractors with replaced dash panels.  The replacement (second hand) panels have often been fitted with the serial number plate still attached from the donor tractor – making identification difficult.  In Vilhelm’s case though, we clearly have an ID plate with a serial number of a bronze/grey tractor.  The dash panel also does look to be in keeping with the rest of the tractor.

It is difficult to see from the photos, but the paint on the rest of the tractor does appear to be flaking – resprayed rather than original?

We look forward to hearing your opinions.


Ferguson FE35 tractor, painted red and grey


Ferguson FE35 identification plate


Ferguson FE35 painted red and grey


Ferguson FE35 tractor


Tractor Engine Losing Power

Peter jumped on his tractor, hitched up the topper (bush hog) and drove down the track to Ivy Bottom Field.

It was bright and sunny February day and his trusty Massey Ferguson 675 was singing away like it normally does.

Ivy Bottom Field is a bit bumpy, due to mole hills.  Peter went four times round the headlands with the topper and then something went wrong with the 675.

The tractor suddenly lost all its power, wouldn’t rev past 1400 revs and was pouring black smoke out if you tried to open the throttle.  Peter was scratching his head.

He changed the air filter, checked air pipes for blockages and changed the fuel filters.  Often it is a case of doing the basics, but in this case it hadn’t provided any improvement.


Vintage Tractor Engineer Receives A Telephone Call

Peter had taken some logical steps with the air and fuel filters, but sometimes it’s another opinion or mind that may see something different.

When Vintage Tractor Engineer arrived and started the engine (it started OK), the first thing he noticed was a distinct rushing noise from the exhaust pipe.

Removal of the exhaust pipe fixed the problem.  The running characteristics of the engine immediately returned to normal.

It turned out the inside of the exhaust pipe had collapsed and was blocking the exhaust gasses outlet (limiting the speed of exit of exhaust gasses and acting a bit like an exhaust brake that may be fitted to a lorry).

A replacement exhaust and the 675 was soom back to work in Ivy Bottom Field.


Tractor Exhaust Pipe



Tractor World Show, 2015

The 2015 Tractor World Show will be held on 14th and 15th March 2015 at Malvern Show Ground, Worcestershire, WR13 6NW.


County Super 6 tractor in show condition


First major show of the year
Turner tractors & machinery display
Displays from most other well known makes
Barn finds/hedgerow themed displays from the regional clubs
Classic tractors including cabbed versions
UK 2015 tractor championship & awards
Stationary engines and equipment
Practical maintenance demos
New tractors on display
New for 2015, spring steam weekend, full size & miniature engines in steam

Other Attractions

One of the attractions to many tractor restorers are all the trade stands full of second hand and obsolete parts.  We can all spend hours rummaging through all the parts, there may just be something you need!

There is an auction of tractors and spares on the Saturday and then a road run on the Sunday.

Tractor World is an event not to be missed.



Fitting Timing Chain, 4 Cylinder Diesel MF35

Many people find the timing process for the Standard 23C Engine difficult to follow and understand.  We wrote a brief article on fitting the timing chain recently.

The process is shown in full on the MF35 Engine Rebuild DVD, however, we also wanted to provide a written description to help people understand the process.  So here goes…


The Procedure

Turn the camshaft clockwise until number 8 valve rises to its highest position.  Then turn the camshaft a further half turn clockwise until the valve is in its lowest position.

Next set the valve gap on number 8 valve to 23 thou of an inch.  Then do the same thing for valve number 7, but to 25 thou (again you need to turn the camshaft clockwise until no. 7 rises to its highest point, then turn another half turn clockwise until it is at its lowest point).  This is done solely with the purpose of keeping things tight for the timing process.

To complete the positioning of the camshaft for timing purposes you need to keep rotating the shaft clockwise until number 8 (exhaust) valve has opened and then closed again and then just before number 7 inlet valve starts to open.  As the valve clearances have been set as we have done them, this will now hold the camshaft in exactly the correct position for us to fit the timing chain.

The next paragraph should be done without the timing chain fitted.
Next, pistons 1 and 4 should be set to Top Dead Centre, this is indicated by the keyway in the crankshaft been in the 6 O’Clock position.  If the engine is disconnected from the rest of the tractor then you can check this with the two arrows lining up on the flywheel.

Temporarily fit the camshaft sprocket and then slide on the crankshaft sprocket and check for alignment (using a straight edge), adding or subtracting shims from/to behind the crankshaft sprocket accordingly.  When you have got that correct you can fit/key the sprocket to the crankshaft.

Now remove the studs from the crankshaft sprocket that you were using to temporarily hold it in place (for alignment using the straight edge)

You can now fit the timing chain over the two sprockets.


4 cylinder diesel MF35 timing chain

Next you need to fit the camshaft sprocket in its correct position.  When trialing the fitment of this sprocket you need to place some weight with your fingers to the upper/left part of the chain (between the sprockets) so that the lower/right hand part of the chain is taught.

Don’t move the crankshaft or the chain, but move the camshaft sprocket over a link at a time until you get the sprocket aligned so that the small stud (one of them is smaller than the others) is aligned in the correct place.  You can then fit all the studs.

Make sure your chain tensioner mechanism is in good condition before fitting it.

That’s it.  The crankshaft and the camshaft are now timed!

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