N History Forum - Expanded Thread Page

Subject: The Ford-Ferguson Story -Short Version

[Back] [Return to Top of Forum]

Tim Daley(MI)    Posted 08-11-2011 at 13:33:26 [URL] [DELETE]        [Reply] [No Email]  
  • The Ford-Ferguson Story -Short Version
  • Here is a short synopsis of the Ford/Ferguson saga and some of my personal observations and opinions:

    We all know Ferguson was only a salesman, the real genius behind the 3-point lift was John Chambers, Archie Greer, and Willie Sands. Ferguson was not an engineer, neither was Ford, but at least Ford had the sense to see in his mind what he wanted then convey that to his engineers. Once there was a model of his concepts, he could understand the functions. Both had visions of improving life for the farmers of the world and that is what drew them together. My opinion has always been that neither would have done so well on their own -they needed each other to feed off of. Both Ford and Ferguson had to co-exist in the same plane in order for all to be right with the world. With the Ferguson saga, I have broken it up into three categories and that is where a lot of both Ford and Ferguson enthusiasts get lost.

    The first leg would be the Ferguson Plow, as he and the Sherman brothers established Ferguson-Sherman Inc; in 1925, with the Duplex Hitch that Ferguson introduced for use with the Fordson Tractor. The year 1925 was also when Ferguson applied for the first draft control patent and it was granted in 1926. It was almost too late as Fordson US tractor production was about to cease, and in 1927, finally moved to England. Ferguson stuck with the Sherman Brothers in pursuit of a better tractor and plow. He took a break and partnered with David Brown in 1936 in England to produce about 1200 Ferguson-Brown Type A tractors that were real dogs and often called the "Ferguson-Black" tractors because they were painted all black, but the partnership soon failed. This is the famous tractor Ferguson brought over to demonstrate at Fairlane, in Dearborn, with the new 3-point design his team created and improved on. This 3-point design was not functional in US soil conditions until Ford engineers made improvements and introduced it to the world with the new 1939 9N Ford Tractor with Ferguson System after Fergusonís partnership with Ford with the famous 'handshake agreement' in 1938. Ford would build the tractor; Ferguson would be control of sales, distribution and implement procurement.

    This second phase was the Ford-Ferguson partnership from 1938 until 1946 when Henry Ford II, in 1945, as the new president of the Ford Motor Company, took the reins due to his grandfathers' poor health. On April 7, 1947, Henry Ford died at age 83.

    The third phase, after the demise of the Ford partnership, Ferguson went to Coventry, England to build his TE20. I think a lot of folks get confused when talk of Ferguson comes up in Ford Tractor discussions. When with Ford, Ferguson and the Shermans were the distributors as Ferguson-Sherman Inc; until 1941 when Ferguson went solo simply as Harry Ferguson Inc. With the Shermans gone, Harry started shopping around 9N blueprints ( behind Henry Ford's back ) to outside manufacturers to start building a similar tractor only with his designs; i.e. 4 speed transmission, O/H valve engine to name a few. When he succeeded with the TE20 in England, he then built a plant right next to Dearborn, in Southfield, Michigan, and began producing the TO20 in 1948 in direct competition with the new Ford 8N Model. He was so successful in both US and overseas markets that many feel that is what hurt him in his lawsuit against Ford and caused him to settle for about 10 million dollars -a fraction of what he started out suing for. The period following that, he partnered with Massey-Harris, then eventually just Massey-Ferguson and that is where the company stands today. Harry Ferguson died of a barbituate overdose in 1960 at age 76. Ford Tractor eventually faded out and around 1990 the FORD TRACTOR brand name longer appeared on a tractor as a world class competitor.

    My personal experiences with both Ford and Ferguson tractor members have pretty much been equally satisfying with the discussions and exchange of stories and ideas mingling with both groups either on-line or at actual tractor shows. There can be a good, friendly rivalry between the two, but there are those from both camps who refuse to recognize the other as being a part of each other's success. Some Ferguson members believe Ferguson was the one and only almighty genius and they refuse to recognize Henry Ford and all he did with Ferguson and the 9N. They block out everything prior to 1946 when the TE20 came out and some will say that if it wasn't for Harry Ferguson, Ford would've never got into production with the 9N. The same is true with some Ford members as they won't acknowledge that the Ferguson design of the 3-point lift helped them both achieve the success both strived for and that wasn't making money, rather, but to better the world farmers by eliminating the need for horses, when they combined their ideas and efforts.

    There are some good videos available on both Ford and Ferguson tractors and implements as well as several good books with lots of very good color pictures. We did not go into the implements here but bear in mind that the Ferguson-Sherman implements, and after 1941, Harry Ferguson Inc; tagged implements were designed for the 9N and 2N Tractor. In 1946 when the TE20 was produced in England, Ferguson had suppliers in England and Ireland building implements for the new 'little grey Fergie' tractor and many of these implements were never exported to the US. There are some implements that simply would not be practical for use in US soils. The NTC offers some good old films on DVD for a modest donation and books and videos can be found at Diamond Press, Old Pond Publishing, www.oldpond.com. on Ferguson trcators and implements. Two very excellent videos that I recommend on Ferguson implements are called "Ferguson on the Farm" parts 1 and 2, filmed on Harold Beers farm in Ireland and produced by Stuart Gibbard. Harold demonstrates many of his original Ferguson implements on his TE20 tractor, and as stated earlier, many of which were never exported to the United States. One of my favorite books in my personal library is called "Tractor Pioneer: The Life of Harry Ferguson" written by Colin Fraser. Also, some decent Ford books written by Chester Peterson Jr. and Rod Beemer by MBI Publishing, are available. One of their books is titled "Ford Tractor Implements" and lists most of the early Ferguson-Sherman; Harry Ferguson Inc; and Dearborn Motors Corporation implements and model numbers in the index. Not all are covered in the text but the book makes for good reading on the bedside or coffee tables. Enjoy.


    Tim Daley(MI)

    8N Josh    Posted 08-17-2012 at 10:47:17 [URL] [DELETE]        [Reply] [Email]  
  • Re: The Ford-Ferguson Story -Short Version
  • Thanks for the info. I need to write a book report on a historical book for history class. I want to one on the Ford 8Ns the book has to be at least 200 pages. DO you have a title of a book this infomation came out of?

    jon    Posted 05-04-2012 at 17:06:29 [URL] [DELETE]        [Reply] [Email]  
  • Re: The Ford-Ferguson Story -Short Version
  • It still amazes me they basically did it in 6 months.
    That would be a marvel with today's technology.

    Ed Gooding (VA)    Posted 11-05-2011 at 05:52:21 [URL] [DELETE]        [Reply] [Email]  
  • Pics of and Comments From Harry and Henry
  • lonestarjeff    Posted 08-12-2011 at 19:18:58 [URL] [DELETE]        [Reply] [Email]  
  • Re: The Ford-Ferguson Story -Short Version
  • Tim:

    Thank you for posting that synopsis of Harry & Henry, I thoroughly enjoy anything I can get my hands on that covers this subject.

    You mentioned the system Harry brought over on the Brown tractor was not particularly good in our soils over here. Can you point me to any source material on that issue? All I have gleaned so far was the system on the Brown tractor was not very reliable. The guys in Henry's skunkworks were such incredible engineering problem solvers....they took an inspired idea that was cobbled together by Ferguson's guys & made it into a real-world reliable system.

    I have an excellent book published in UK on most all of the Ferguson implements. It's fascinating to me how Harry's engineers developed so many uses for the 3-point system that Ford had no interest in(or time to develop before he became ill).

    One other item that is interesting to me on this subject is regarding the 8N's(& the TE/TO's)upper link long pin. Harry must have been behind this design feature. There are at least half a dozen UK-designed implements that make use of the pin to avoid putting stress on the rocker & draft control linkage. Seems like Ford/Dearborn largely ignored the long pin altogether in their implement designs.

    In fact, even much later(1960's)the Massey Ferguson 100-series still had the long pin designed into the rear diffy.

    Jeff

    don b    Posted 10-06-2011 at 11:17:28 [URL] [DELETE]        [Reply] [Email]  
  • Re: The Ford-Ferguson Story -Short Version
  • Jeff....yes the long pin[8n486A] was Harry's design and was one of the two items mentioned in the "lawsuit" that Ford could no longer have on the tractors.Ford could make the pin and sell it for "service" only after serial number 237xxx.The other item was that the hyd.system was not to be used after 12/31/1952. don b

    Bruce Dorsi    Posted 08-12-2011 at 05:54:09 [URL] [DELETE]        [Reply] [No Email]  
  • Re: The Ford-Ferguson Story -Short Version
  • Thanks for the article, Tim!

    Minor point, but:

    "...the FORD TRACTOR brand name longer appeared..."

    I think you forgot the word "no."

    Tim Daley(MI)    Posted 08-12-2011 at 16:01:08 [URL] [DELETE]        [Reply] [No Email]  
  • Re: The Ford-Ferguson Story -Short Version
  • Hey Bruce-
    yep, wrote this in a hurry as I said and there are a few other points I need to correct so will re=write it with corrections and additions and then repost...thanks.


    Tim

    Randy(PA)    Posted 08-11-2011 at 16:24:36 [URL] [DELETE]        [Reply] [No Email]  
  • Re: The Ford-Ferguson Story -Short Version
  • Tim, relative to the "fading out " of the Ford name on tractors, Ford sold Ford New Holland to Fiat in 1991. The Ford script was allowed to be used for five years, and the FORD block letters for another five years on tractors, ending, I think in 2000, on those products that were designed when owned by Ford, in other words, not to be used on any new products designed after the sale to Fiat. This is how I remember it, as I had some responsibility for changing decals and labelling on some products in those years.

    Tim Daley(MI)    Posted 08-11-2011 at 19:12:56 [URL] [DELETE]        [Reply] [No Email]  
  • Re: The Ford-Ferguson Story -Short Version
  • Thanks for the correction, Randy. Trying to write on the fly today at the college so did not have any of my reference books with me and tried to remember from my feeble mind...

    Tim

    [Back] [Return to Top of Forum]


    Top