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Massey Ferguson 590 (Perkins 4.248 Engine), Compression Test

This is a rather interesting video looking at the compression testing of a Perkins 4.248 tractor engine.  This video is from Youtube user EngineerLikes Farming.  Vintage Tractor Engineer follows this channel and likes many of the videos.  We would recommend you subscribe too!

(You can also subscribe to our Youtube channel)

It shows the compression measurement at 24 bar (360psi).

One of the cylinders didn’t have any (or very little) compression due to inadjusted valves.  You can hear the movement on the rocker arms that needed re-adjusting.

Cylinder number 4 had had a new liner and that was reading at 26 bar (380psi).  The video doesn’t say if that cylinder had also had new rings, but it does demonstrate the difference.


FE-35 Glow Plugs

We recently wrote about Ferguson FE-35 glow plugs.  The vital piece of information in the article was that glow plugs from a Land Rover engine also fitted the Standard 23C engine.  Land Rover parts are quite easily obtainable, so this is a good source of supply if you need glow plugs.

We have been given some information as to why this may be, in a historical context.

In 1954, the Rover Motor Company was in talks with Standard-Triumph with the possibliity of a merger.  Standard manufactured the 20C engine as fitted to the Ferguson TEF-20 tractor (also fitted to the Standard Vanguard).  The merger never actually went ahead, but during talks the Rover engineers were able to study the designs of the Standard diesel engines.  This helped give them the knowledge to develop their own diesel engines for the Land Rover.

The final design of the 2.0 litre Land Rover diesel engine (unsurprisingly) had some similarities to the Standard engine, including the use of Ricardo Comet swirl chambers with heater plugs fitted as an aid to starting performance.  Hence (Vintage Tractor Engineer believes) the heater plug fittings are exactly the same in the Land Rover engine (1957-1962) as they are in the Standard.

The Take Away

The Land Rover glow plugs will fit the Standard 23C engine with cold climate head.  The Land Rover plugs are 12V, so they would need to be wired in parallel (originally the glow plugs were wired in series on the 23C).  See the FE-35 Heater Plugs page for wiring diagrams.



Ferguson FE35 Glow Plug Information

Many Standard 23C diesel engines have the ‘Thermostart’ heating and vaporising coil fitted in the inlet manifold.  Effective as this is, FE-35 tractors sold for use in areas of the world where extreme cold temperatures are expected were often fitted with ‘cold climate heads’ that have individual heater plugs for each pre-combustion chamber.  Tractors equiped with this system do not have the thermostart system fitted.

It is still possible to get the glow plugs (or alternatives) from some suppliers, but they are becoming more difficult to source in some contries.  We are going to take a look at the system, the components, the wiring diagrams and an alternative system built from more easily obtainable components that offers some advantages to the original system.

We’ve got some really helpful photos and diagrams to show you exactly what to do if you need to work on the heater system.


Per owns a cold climate FE-35 over in Canada, and he’s written a comprehensive article about the system on his tractor and how he has converted it.  The following information summarises Per’s article, but to read the full article then we would recommend taking a look at Per’s page on the subject (and there’s lots more great stuff on his website too!).

If you are able to source the original type of glow plug and ballast resistor (or manufacture one) then you would have no need to change, but this information may be useful for those of you who cannot source the original equipment.


The Glow Plugs

The heater plugs as specified in the MF manual are…

KLG. Z 161/3  (1.7V. 38 amps)

superseded by…

Lodge D.T. 14 L-1.7V  (1.7V. 38 amps)

KLG. GF. 205.T  (1.7V. 38 amps)

The two plugs on the left and centre of the picture below are what was removed from Per’s tractor.  The plug in the right of the picture is the new replacement plug that also fits these engines (and comes from a Land Rover engine).  However, the new plugs are 12V, so it would be necessary to convert to a parallel wiring system if you use to this type of plug.

The old plugs are easily identifiable by the insulating washer (even when fitted to the engine).


The Originals, And Replacement Plug

glowplugs for Standard 23C diesel engine

Original Wiring Diagram

Wiring diagram for glow plugs


New Wiring Diagram

Alternative wiring diagram for MF35



Wiring the new glow plugs in parallel also gives us an advantage.  Using the old series wiring system means that if one plug fails, then none of the others would work either.  Parallel wiring means that if one plug were to fail then the other three would still be receiving current and hence working.

The other train of thought on this is that if a plug blows when in series you will know something has gone wrong and you will replace the faulty plug (there is a warning lamp on the original system to indicate this – if it doesn’t light).  The potential disadvantage of parallel wiring is that you don’t realise when one plug blows, then some time later the next plug may blow.  The operator may then think that starting performance is slowly deteriorating and may not realise it is the plugs.

It is also possible when the corkscrew / coil type of glow plugs burn out, that the element can drop into the pre combustion chamber and get into the cylinder itself.  The probe type of plugs are much less likely to suffer from bits falling off.

The Ballast Resistor


Ballast resistor for MF35 heater plug circuit

Newly manufactured ballast resistor.

The ballast resistor was originally fitted to prevent over-loading during the initial heating period.

The ballast resistor is not necessary with the new plugs wired in parallel, as each plug is 12 volts.

The ballast resistor in the photograph above was manufactured for Per by one of his friends.  His friend used 14 gauge Nichrome wire and made four new fibre washer insulators.



MF 3080 Engine Rebuild

This past week we’ve been rebuilding a Perkins A6.354 engine from a Massey Ferguson 3080.

This engine has only done a little over 6,000 hours, but hasn’t be well looked after.  The owner is a gentleman who takes lots of care and time looking after his pigs, but unfortunately spends little time on machinery maintenance.


Removing Massey Ferguson 3080 Engine


A couple of years previously when the engine became difficult to start, the owner reached for the starting fluid.  Here at Vintage Tractor Engineer we believe that if an engine won’t start then something is wrong, the cause should be identified and then repaired.

The owener reported that the engine was losing power and eventually got to the point that it wouldn’t start even using starting fluid, and that is when the tractor was brought to us for a rebuild.  The radiator choked full of dirt wasn’t a great start…


blocked tractor radiator

Lack of simple maintenane


The next photo is of one of the air intake ports (and they were all the same).  Severely restricted with carbon/soot deposits.  The valves were so badly burnt and pitted that combustion gasses had been escaping past the valves into the intake port and causing the build up.


blocked intake port

That’s bad!


Excessive use of starting fluid can wash the lubricating oil away from the cylinder liners and cause the rings and surface of the liners to wear.  The engine had reached the point where compression was so low (leaking valves, worn rings and liners, restricted air intake!!) that it would no longer start.


worn cylinder liners and black oil deposits

smooth liners and black oil deposits


The engine has had new liners (bored and honed to size), pistons and rings, vavles, valve stems, valve seats, head surfaced and a new oil pump.  The crank only needed a polish and so new standard sized bearing shells were fitted.  The owner hadn’t changed the engine oil for years, so we were expecting the crank to be in worse condtion than it was.

Vintage Tractor Engineer has an identical MF 3080 on our farm.  Well, I say identical, it has nearly twice the hours on the clock (just short of 12,000), starts first touch and runs as smooth as the day it left the factory 24 years ago.  Our pig farming customer couldn’t believe the condition of our tractor compared to his – it just shows the value of regular oil/filter changes and a little bit of maintenance.

We told the owner to change the engine oil after 2-3 hours and then again at 100 hours.  We’re not certain that it sank in, we think he was going to be too busy feeding his pigs!


1959 Ford 611 Combine Harvester For Sale

We’ve had an email from Dan who is selling his uncle’s vintage Ford combine harvester on eBay.com …


Dan has written a detailed description of the machine and posted lots of photos and a video of the combine running.

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