Brief Ferguson history>

Harry Ferguson was a mechanical genius. He was the first Briton to build and fly his own airplane (1909), the first to fly a woman passenger in Ireland, inventor of applied weight transfer, converging three point linkage, full time four wheel drive, and many other things too numerous to mention.

Growing up on an Irish farm taught him about hard work and the need to ease the burden of farming. Over the years he experimented with light weight tractors with mounted plows. His first success was a conversion to mount his plow on a Fordson Model F tractor. The first mounted plows were operated by springs and levers but by the end of the twenties Harry Ferguson had developed a hydraulic lift system. By the mid thirties Harry Ferguson was producing a tractor with a mounted plow using a David Brown chassis. This light weight tractor was produced for 2 years.

The idea behind the Ferguson system was that the weight of the plowing was transferred to the rear wheels increasing traction. The weight transfer allowed the light weight tractor to do the work of heavier tractors. Improvements to the Ferguson system such as draft control improved the weight transfer and increased the amount of work the little tractor could do.

In late 1938 Harry Ferguson demonstrated one of the David Brown tractors to Henry Ford. On the strength of that demonstration Harry and Henry entered into what is known as the "The Handshake Agreement." Ford Motor Company designed and introduced the Ford 9N in 1939. It was the Ford with the Ferguson system or the Ford Ferguson. During the war years a steel wheeled version was introduced in 1942 as the 2N. The 9N was a light weight tractor with the Ferguson hydraulic draft control system.

After the war Ford Motor Company under the direction of Henry Ford II pulled out of the handshake agreement and introduced the 8N in 1948. With the 8N Ford stopped paying royalties to Ferguson. In the resulting lawsuit, Ford was forced to pay Ferguson the largest settlement in Ford's history at that time.

Meanwhile Ferguson started producing the Ferguson tractor in England to help war torn European farmers. The Ferguson TE-20 used a Continental Z-120 engine built in the US. The Continental was used until one designed by the Standard Motors Company of England was available. This is the same motor that was used in the Triumph TR-2 Sports car of the era. In 1948 production of the TO-20 was started up to Detroit Michigan with the Continental engine. Within a few years the Z-120 was replaced with a Z-129 and the model changed to TO-30.

The Ferguson tractor had many attachments available from mounted plows, disks, sicle bar mowers, lifts, post hole diggers, cement mixers, etc. Several modified with rubber tracks traveled to the South pole. Many Fergusons are still at work all over the world every day of the year.

The Ferguson tractor company merged with Massey-Harris of Canada in the early fifties to form Massey-Ferguson. This company continues to sell tractors. In fact the Ferguson system has been adopted by all tractor manufactures. The three point hookup has become standard. Harry Ferguson went on to continue his inventive career. The Ferguson Formula Four wheel drive is one of his many innovations.

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Last update Feburaruy 2, 2001 by Don Bowen