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Vintage and Classic Tractor Restoration

Vintage and Classic Tractor Restoration

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Vintage and Classic Tractor Restoration

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Lançado em:
Feb 28, 2017


Vintage and Classic Tractor Restoration is a complete guide to the subject, looking at how to initially purchase a tractor, through private means or at auction, and then how to restore it back to its former glory, as it would have looked when it left the factory. It is even possible to preserve a classic tractor in its working condition, which has a unique appeal to some tractor collectors and in some ways is harder than a full restoration to undertake. Practical techniques have been amply illustrated throughout the book, ranging from the simple use of a lathe or milling machine to the making from scratch of various tools useful in restoration work. Rather than just replacing items such as carburettor, starter motor or dynamo, practical advice is given on how to test and rebuild these compondents back to full operation. Fifty-two practical picture spreads show techniques suitable for restorers of all levels of skill. Contents: Setting up the workshop and making specialist tools; Finding a tractor to restore; Engine and fuel; Electrical systems; Transmission and brakes; Wheels, tyres and steering; Hydraulics and the three-point linkage; Metalwork; Painting and finishing. Aimed at serious tractor enthusiasts and agricultural machinery engineers and fully illustrated wth 1100 colour photographs.
Lançado em:
Feb 28, 2017

Sobre o autor

Richard Lofting has been messing about with old tractors and machinery most of his life. He trained at college to ordinary diploma level in engineering and has been self employed working as a landscape gardener for many years. He regularly writes in Tractor and Farming Heritage and Heritage Commercials magazines, demonstrating repair techniques associated with these older vehicles and the correct procedures that should be followed. He has authored two books in the Crowood Metalworking Guide series, Welding and Brazing and Soldering.

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Vintage and Classic Tractor Restoration - Richard Lofting



The original concept of this book was to act as a bank of knowledge for anyone interested in restoring or indeed keeping an old tractor running, as there is little in the way of a comprehensive work covering all topics. There are books available on specific topics such as painting, but I wanted to explain the whole process from start to finish, and what can be achieved with a little knowledge and guidance. There are many vintage and classic tractors still working for a living, for example mowing cricket pitches, and many a stableyard still runs an old tractor for tasks such as dung carting and raking the manège – and of course there are many old tractors stuck at the back of farmyard barns, superseded by modern machinery, all begging to be restored before they are weighed in at the scrapyard, as scrap-metal prices are ever on the increase, with countries such as China and India expanding their industrial activities.

You may well ask, who restores tractors? The answer to this is people from all walks of life: farm workers who had an old tractor of the same make and model on the farm in years gone by, through to the accountant or bank clerk who has a mechanical bent, and enjoys nothing more than to get his hands dirty at the weekend, enjoying a hobby that gives him a complete change from the clean, clinical environment in the office. And it is not only country folk who restore tractors, though they are at an advantage when it comes to driving their pride and joy, with more space and gardens for test drives: many a suburban garage door hides a vintage or classic tractor.

This book covers all the techniques that can be used in the restoration of a tractor – and many other types of vehicle, come to that. All stages are explained, along with the basic theory as to how things work, giving the budding restorer a better insight into his new-found hobby – and indeed there is much information for the experienced restorer, who just requires reference to vital data while adjusting things or doing a rebuild.

A thread file can save the thread on a damaged bolt.


I have had an interest in engineering and all things mechanical for most of my life. I come from a background of ‘make do and mend’, with both my parents being children during World War II: nothing was ever thrown away, and everything was mended if possible, unlike today, where so many things are discarded and binned without even being looked at. My father was a first-class mechanic in the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy, working on aeroplane engines. Luckily the war was over as his training finished so he never saw active service. I was lucky in that when I was at secondary school, metalwork was on the curriculum along with technical drawing; we were taught to use the lathe and forge, amongst other tools, and learned not only how to draw, but how to read a technical drawing – this was all long before health and safety regulations curtailed these valuable lessons, and of course with drawing programs now available on computers, actually using pencil and paper has become more or less redundant.

I was brought up in the Kent countryside, and visited a local farm from an early age, where my mum picked strawberries. Although it was a relatively small farm they had a Ferguson TE20 tractor and a Massey Ferguson bagging combine, and it was here that I had my first encounters with tractors and other farm machinery. Once I had reached the age of fifteen I was working in the school holidays bale carting at another local farm, and here I had my first tractor-driving experiences, on a Mk 1 Massey Ferguson 65 and a tatty Fordson Major, although at that time not on the public highway.

The first tractor I owned was when I was eighteen: my girlfriend Pamela’s father had an old TED 20 Ferguson in his garage with a stuck clutch; I fiddled around with it and got it going, and freed the clutch by starting the tractor in gear and driving it round the field for about twenty minutes with the clutch pedal held down. I was told that as I had got the tractor going, I could have it! I still have this tractor today, and it is featured in some of the restoration photos that feature throughout this book; incidentally I still have the girlfriend, too: I married her twentyeight years ago, and now we have two grown-up children who both enjoy old tractors, probably as much as I do!

Although I still love the Ferguson TE 20 tractors, of late I have discovered the virtues of the hot-bulb, semi-diesel-engined tractors, in my case SFV tractors built exclusively in France, so popular on the vintage scene in Europe – and I make no apologies for its inclusion in the book. These tractors – some say quirky! – are becoming popular in the UK in the tractor-collecting world, though they never became ‘mainstream’ in their day. When single-cylinder tractors were used on the farm, the British-built Field Marshall tractor became established, without the requirement of lighting a blowlamp to start it, as with the hot-bulb engines. I would argue that a hot-bulb engine, although it has to be pre-heated with a blow lamp, is easier to start than a Field Marshall because a hot bulb is bounced against compression, whereas a Field Marshall has to be turned over several times until the decompressor closes. Others may disagree!

The first three chapters of this book cover basic workshop practices and the skills needed for restoration work, along with the relevant health and safety information for a safe working environment. Chapter 2 contains various tools that are easily made for restoration work, given that my ethos has always been ‘why buy when you can make it’; sometimes things can be made that are better than those on sale, and the satisfaction of making it yourself is always a bonus. Furthermore in the restoration world the threads used are now extinct, so the only way is to make the tool yourself.

Chapters 4–13 cover every item requiring restoration work, from the engine through to the tyres, illustrated in practical spreads with references back to the first three chapters where needed. I have started with the engine and worked through the whole tractor almost from front to back, but this system needn’t be followed religiously: you can dip into the book where you like and have your own working order. Chapter 14 presents a gallery of restored tractors, some of them photographed specifically for this book; these are not based on any one make or model – I have tried to cover the differences on various tractors, so whatever you go for, whether a Fordson or a Ferguson, the peculiarities on various tractors will be covered.

At the back of the book you will find various appendices covering basic data for some of the more common tractors, and this could be viewed as ‘tune-up information’, allowing the restorer to carry out maintenance and adjustments all from this one book. There is also a list of suppliers of parts and spares: it is by no means comprehensive, but for the more common models it should enable parts to be sourced without too much difficulty; for the more obscure or rare examples, parts will need to be made.

Once you have undertaken your restoration, I can hear you ask the question ‘What can I do with my tractor?’: the simple answer is, drive it. There are many things you can do with your vintage tractor, whether it is restored or not. For example, up and down the country on most weekends during the summer months there are steam rallies and country fairs that welcome entries from these very tractors, allowing the public to peruse your work, and often prizes are awarded for ‘best tractor’ and suchlike. Vintage ploughing matches are also popular, most being in the autumn, and of course you will need a plough. If you have a large garden or paddock a mower deck will enable you to cut the grass with your tractor. I use one of my tractors to cut logs for the woodburner, and I cultivate our pig enclosures as we produce our own pork – but that’s another story.

I am currently chairman of the Kent Agricultural Club, whose members are like-minded tractor and stationary engine owners; however, it is not a requirement to own any vintage machinery to join the club, and in fact many of our members just enjoy the camaraderie and the social evenings that the club offers. Local clubs can be a valuable source of information about vintage tractors, where most members are happy to pool their knowledge and help newcomers to the hobby. And you never know, you might have a unique skill that can be shared with fellow club members, such as IT skills that can be put to good use in the club.


workshop practice

Although this book is primarily about tractor restoration, to achieve this aim, unless all operations are to be outsourced to professional firms, then some understanding of the tools and their safe use needs to be understood. And even if the work is to be outsourced, a basic understanding of what will be going on will be beneficial, as more informed discussions can then be made, rather than just having blind faith in whichever firm is chosen for the work.

A workshop can be anything from a garden shed to a purpose-built building: it is home to all your tools and keeps them locked up out of harm’s way, and gives you somewhere to work.

My philosophy in life, and the whole point of the book, is this: why get someone else to do the work when most people, with a little guidance and some background information, will be able to carry out most tasks? Back in the 1970s during my time at secondary school, the curriculum was very different from what it is today: practical lessons were the order of the day, and not only did we have metalwork and woodwork lessons on a regular basis, but technical drawing was all but compulsory. This gave us an insight into how to make things, and also how to produce the drawings of what we were making. Admittedly times have changed, and now computers are used for all types of drawing, including technical drawing, with many CAD programs available – and now the CAD drawing file can be fed into a CNC lathe or milling machine directly, without it ever having been on a sheet of paper.

This is all very clever, but it doesn’t help in the practical restoration of a tractor – unless, of course, a vital part is broken or missing, in which case the part could be drawn and produced accurately in a short space of time. I am not saying do not use these services, but rather, with the right knowledge a more informed decision can be made as to what avenue to take during your restoration. CNC operations will not be discussed in this book, apart from a brief explanation, but as said already, basic lathe turning and milling will be covered.


A ‘workshop’ can be anything from a garage to the garden shed, through to a purpose-built, fully kitted-out building. Before the consideration of any tools, the first thing to install will probably be some form of bench to work on: the major criterion when working on tractor components is strength, as most tractor parts are heavy by necessity – so it follows that to carry out operations on these components, they will need to be well supported. Although useful, a workmate-type portable bench is really only suitable to place hand tools on while working, and something with heavy section wood or steel angle legs will be required to support engine and gearbox components. The last thing you want is the legs on the bench to give way, because quite apart from the health and safety implications to your personal wellbeing, expensive damage may occur to your tractor components.

Fundamental to any workshop is a good sturdy bench, especially when working on parts of tractors that are heavy.

A large vice is a useful asset when fitted to the workbench: items can be held while they are being heated or undone.


Twenty to thirty years ago most men – and indeed women – would have had a fair selection of hand tools, as simple tasks were undertaken regularly on their vehicles, such as oil changes and servicing; also service intervals were in the order of 2–3,000 miles, unlike today, where they can be up to 12,000 miles apart – so people either never bother with servicing until their vehicle breaks down, or they employ a professional to service it for them. The same applies to tractors and farm machinery: where once the average farm had its own workshop, now things have become very technically advanced, with breakdowns being diagnosed by satellite links direct with the machine! This information is then downloaded to the local main agent, ready for when the machine arrives at their premises for service work. In fact much farm equipment is now operated on a lease/hire basis, with all the service work included in the package.


So where do you start? If you have just bought a wreck ripe for restoration, or have a vintage machine needing some TLC, then a set of spanners would be a good start, along with a set of ½in drive sockets. There is no need to spend a fortune these days, as most budget tools are better made than their earlier counterparts: at one time ‘cheap’ meant soft or brittle tools, which either bent or cracked with mild force, but now even the cheaper brands sold at some of the discount supermarkets are approved by German TUV standards; the down side is in the finish of the tool itself, but it will get the job done. The more money spent means a more professional tool with a better finish, which makes handling them all day and every day a more comfortable task – you pay your money and make your choice, as with most things in life.

If you went out and purchased every tool that you thought you might require for the completion of a restoration project, the bill would probably be more than the value of your finished tractor. The best approach is to buy the tools as you need them for any particular task, and once this is completed, move on to the next task; tools do not necessarily need to be new, and second-hand ones will still do a good job for less money – and if you don’t expect to carry out the same task in the future, the money saved can be used to purchase tools for the next job on the list.

A good starting point with a toolkit is a comprehensive socket set.

Ring and open-ended spanners will be required as you progress with restoration work.

Pooling Your Resources

If you are amongst a group of like-minded friends, even within a club, and are undertaking the same sort of restoration work, inevitably at some point you will all need the same, or similar, tools. If one person buys the tools for one job and someone else buys the tools for another, there is no reason why they cannot be lent from one to the other – though obviously a certain amount of trust will be required, otherwise arguments could easily start over whose tools are whose and who owns what.


Once you have purchased all those lovely shiny tools, the next step is to have somewhere to keep them. Toolboxes come in all shapes and sizes, from the very mobile tote box right up to the multi-drawer professional toolbox mounted on heavy casters. Once again, you pay your money and take your choice, from a few pounds for a small box, and into treble figures for its larger cousins – but it has to be said that with a bigger toolbox with many drawers, it is much easier to find the right spanner – as long as you put it back in the right place the last time you used it, of course.


A selection of hammers of different sizes will be useful, especially when stripping old and seized components: the engineering hammer, with a ballpein at one end, is the best type for this kind of work. A standard hammer head is hardened during manufacture, and this stops the head from distorting and denting during use – so never hit hardened items such as bearing shells directly, as they will most likely crack and could splinter, sending sharp shards of metal around the workshop (eye protection should be worn during hammering operations). Copper and hide-faced hammers are also available in many sizes, and these can be used directly on components without fear of damage or distortion.

Engineering or ball pein hammers of various sizes will make life easier when anything requires a tap.

Slide Hammer

A slide hammer is unlike a conventional hammer: it is a weight that slides along a bar, and when the weight reaches the end stop, the energy is transferred to the other end, on which there is an attachment that is fixed to whatever you are trying to remove – in some ways it operates in the opposite way to a normal hammer, which is used to drive things in, rather than removing them. It is an ideal tool to remove stuck gib keys, and with the correct adapter can be used to extract bearings in a blind recess.

A slide hammer will be indispensable for knocking out things such as gib keys and bearings in blind housings.

Punches and Chisels

To remove pins, a set of pin punches will be useful, while for removing bearing shells – and more importantly, to replace them – punches made from mild steel or brass are ideal; these can easily be made from bar material, and made the right length to reach, on an individual basis. Over time the working end of a pin punch will be damaged and will require dressing to bring the end back to a nice square end without any burrs or chips. The same will happen to a centre punch. To dress these tools on the grinding wheel and get them back to shape, do not allow them to become more than hand hot, otherwise the temper in the tool may be lost and it will be as much use as a chocolate teapot.

Cold Chisels

Engineering chisels, known as cold chisels, are useful for knocking back lock tabs or undoing nuts that have lost their corners – but as with all cutting tools, if they are blunt they are next to useless, so sharpen them as soon as they lose their edge. The centre punch, although not a chisel but a punch, must also be sharp, as the point is used to mark where you want to drill a hole: this stops the drill bit wandering until it has bitten into the surface. It can also be used to lock a nut on to a thread by deforming the thread – a crude but effective method! They can be used on screw heads to the same effect, and the valves in a fuel lift pump are sometimes staked in using a centre punch.

Drifts and punches of various sizes will be needed to knock out pins and mark centres; soft drifts are ideal for removing bearing shells.


Drifts are basically large punches made from soft material. Many components on older tractors have parts fitted with an interference fit, and this stops them moving when in service; to remove them requires force, but to avoid damage or distortion, soft drifts are used made from soft mild steel or brass in large section to suit the job in hand.

Number and Letter Punches

Number and letter punches are not critical to doing any work on your tractor, but a set of these punches will come in handy to mark any specialist tools that you happen to make with any critical sizes, and for which tractor they are designed for. The other important use for the punches is to mark your growing tool collection, as it will not be too long before you make many new friends and acquaintances who may want to borrow your precious tools. Some form of marking system will enable you at least to cast your eye over your friend’s toolbox and identify your spanners: if your initials are indelibly stamped into them there is little to argue about, if ownership is in dispute.


The scribe, although not a punch, it is a useful marking instrument, and if there are any marking jobs to be done on metalwork, a scribe is ideal. It is just a sharp point on a handle, though some have a right-angle on one end with another point. These points are relatively hard, but in use they will lose their sharpness from time to time; however, they can be easily sharpened on a grinding wheel.


Most screws on older tractors will be the plain slotted type, so a good selection of sizes from a small terminal size upwards will be useful. Sometimes where things have been replaced over the years crosshead screws may have been used, so a selection of crosshead screwdrivers will not go amiss.


There are two categories of power tool to choose from: electrically operated and air-operated tools.

Electrically Powered Tools

We start this category with the humble electric drill, which is very useful for tasks such as making holes and drilling out broken studs (more of that later). Here again they range in price from a few pounds up to three figures, though just for general drilling the cheaper end of the scale will suffice. Not to be overlooked is the battery-operated drill, where again, the more you spend, the higher the power; to go with these you will need a set of twist drills.

Drill Bits

A general set of what are known as jobber drills will get you started, and if bought as a set will come in a protective tin case; this will ensure they all stay together, so when you need them you can put your hand on them straightaway without too much searching. Cheap drill bits are available made from carbon steel, but using these to drill metal will be a waste of time, as you may get only one hole drilled before the bit loses its sharp edge. Carbon steel gains it hardness from heat treatment, so drilling through just mild steel will produce enough heat to soften the drill-bit tip. For general use it will be far better to go for high-speed steel (HSS) drill bits, which are not so affected by heat during drilling.

A good selection of drill bits will always be useful, and kept in the original tin will keep them all together; if any break during use, replace them at the earliest opportunity.

Out in the tractor shed a battery drill will make light work of the smaller drilling jobs.

If more accuracy is required – for example, drilling a specific-sized hole for a thread to be tapped – individual drill bits can be bought at a good tool shop, in fractional sizes, and metric and imperial sizes, along with cobalt drills that will allow the drilling of harder materials such as stainless steel. The problem with stainless steel is that it work hardens locally as you work it. As usual, the more specialized the job, the more expensive things become. Nevertheless, if the right equipment is bought in the first place, savings can be made in the long run.

Angle Grinder

Next is the ubiquitous angle grinder, with the smallest at 100mm (4in), right up to the 230mm (9in) model, requiring several horsepower to drive it: the drawback is that the more powerful it is, the heavier it gets. Of course grinding isn’t the angle grinder’s only function, and the grinding wheel can be changed for a cutting disc, which will make short work of cutting through rusty bolts. Wire wheels of varying severity are available to cut through severe rust to light surface rust, and sanding discs are available with a suitable backing pad for final linishing of the back of those welds before painting. The newish flap wheels, constructed of many overlapping sections of abrasive, are great for linishing and general sanding, and have the advantage that they last a lot longer than their single sheet cousins, being less likely to tear on a sharp corner.

The multi-purpose angle grinder, available in a variety of sizes; it can be used for grinding, cutting, linishing and sanding, depending on the type of disc fitted.

All of the above are available in 240 volts or 115 volts. It must be said that 115 volts in an outside environment where it can be wet and damp is a lot safer than 240-volt household mains, but this will entail buying, borrowing or otherwise, a reduction transformer to run the machines at the lower voltage.

Note: In a working environment in the workplace, in the UK 115 volts is the only voltage allowed to be used outside.

Air Tools

Technically, I suppose, if the compressor is electrically driven then it should be in the above category, but let’s look at the business end, where most electrically driven tool types – such as drills and grinders – are available with air drive, and a plethora of others – such as impact tools – are generally not. However, having said that, there are battery-powered impact wrenches available that can be handy if the tractor you are working on is in the middle of a field, and which for their size have an incredibly high torque figure.

One of the main advantages with the air-operated drill or grinder is the fact that the power source is remote from the tool, located at the compressor, making the tool itself much lighter and smaller – which is invaluable if you are lying on your back, holding the tool up with your arms above you. Another advantage is that if you are lying on a damp workshop floor, even with modern earth leakage trip devices there is no risk of electric shocks from the tool in your hand.

The air-belt sander is ideal for cleaning areas that need welding as it can get into tight corners where you would struggle with a larger tool. The belts come in different grades of abrasive.

If a lot of sheet-metal cutting is required then an air shear will speed up the job considerably.

The benefit of the air drill is that it can be used without fear of electric shock in a damp tractor shed, and it is reversible at the flick of a switch.

As stated above, equivalent hand drills and grinders are available in air drive. This list of useful attachments also includes the die grinder, a small high-speed hand grinder that can reach into all sorts of places; and the belt sander, a favourite of mine with its 10mm-wide belt, as this can reach into some tight spots where it would be awkward, if not impossible, to get an angle grinder in to do the job.

Apart from revolving tools, air comes into its own with reciprocating and percussion tools. For slicing through sheet steel an air nibbler or shears cannot be beaten, and a combined hole punch and joddler – also available as a hand-operated tool – is invaluable for letting in repair sections ready for plug welding (see the welding section) when repairing wings and bonnets. On the percussion side we have air chisels and needle guns: these are extremely efficient at their job, but be warned they are extremely noisy for the operator (so ear protection is necessary), and indeed for any bystanders or neighbours in the local vicinity; with all the encompassing environmental legislation, short use at sensible times of the day may be prudent, and a chat with your neighbours might help alleviate their concerns, just in case they thought you were going into full time repairs. Although the noise will be annoying for you while you are working, you can at least appreciate that it is achieving something useful; your neighbour, on the other hand, may not be able to hear the television and just sees the noise as a nuisance, and could possibly phone the local council – so be warned.

Air Tool Maintenance

Air tools require very little maintenance during their use. When in regular use manufacturers recommend that they are oiled with the correct oil daily, but on a part-time basis – used, say, only at weekends – then oiling after every other use will probably suffice. The alternative is to use an inline oiler, which provides a very small amount of oil into the airline when it is in use; however, if you intend to use your equipment to spray paint, then it is imperative to keep a separate air line just for spray painting, otherwise oil contamination will ruin your paint finish. The same can be said of water droplets in the line: although they will not damage a well-oiled tool, one used infrequently could suffer internal corrosion from the water droplets. A good water separator fitted at the regulator or in the airline will remove most of the extraneous water before it reaches the tool.


All air tools require something to provide the air to drive them, and this is the compressor: as its name conveys, it compresses the air, usually via a piston and valves into an air receiver. The receiver provides three main functions: it acts as a cushion to even out the pulses as the piston pushes out the air on each stroke; it cools the air, as the process of compressing it creates heat; and it provides a reservoir so that for brief periods larger tools can be driven. In the process of cooling the air in the receiver, it allows water vapour in the air to condense out, as cooler air cannot hold as much water vapour as warm air. All compressors have a drain tap, and it is imperative that this is regularly checked and drained of any accumulated water: if left, the water will corrode the inside of the air receiver, resulting in weaknesses in the structure with possibly fatal results, if the receiver fails when full of air.

Compressors do not have to be driven by electricity, and petrol- and diesel-engined versions are readily available. These are generally more expensive than their electric cousins, though usually they have a higher air output, so are ideal for driving the bigger air tools. Some tractor sheds are well away from civilization and have no power supply available, so tools powered by internal combustion will have an advantage here.

The heart of an air-tool system is the compressor, and obviously the amount of air used by the tools will dictate the size of compressor – for example, the 3hp model will give about 14cfm of free air and should drive most air tools.

Although this Myford ML10 lathe is small, it will turn smaller items for use on a tractor, and with care, larger turning jobs can be achieved.

A Harrison lathe: this size of machine is capable of skimming brake drums and larger objects.

This Colchester lathe is more of an industrial size; provided you have a three-phase power supply, it should cover all your tractor turning needs.


Some of us of a certain age need no introduction to the merits of the centre lathe, but for those who are not so informed, a description of its virtues follows. The lathe has been around for many, many years, and has been used to make components from furniture to space rockets. The basic principle is to mount the blank from which the component is to be made, usually between centres, hence the name. The modern lathe is electrically powered, but in the past it could have been driven by human, water or steam power. Once the blank is rotating, a sharp tool is used to cut it to the desired dimensions that will form the component.

In the past it would have been necessary to have mastered the art of sharpening the cutting tools required, and there are whole books available covering this task showing all the cutting and clearance angles required for different materials. Today, however, things are a little easier, as lathe tools are available with replaceable, pre-sharpened tips made from tungsten carbide; also, once worn or chipped they can be turned round, as most have two cutting edges, or they can simply be replaced with a new tip. Another distinct advantage with tungsten carbide tooling is the fact that turning can be done without the messy problems of a coolant supply, which is needed with high-speed steel (HSS) tools, as turning can create a fair amount of heat at the tool tip.

For restoration work the lathe is invaluable, as not only can you make new components, but you will be able to re-true machined surfaces, make new pins and bushes, adjust similar components to fit, and cut internal and external threads.

A lathe is useless without the tools to do the cutting; HSS tools need cutting lubricant, but tungsten carbide does not.


A centre lathe is a very useful piece of equipment if undertaking any sort of restoration work. The first set of pictures shows some basic turning, where a bronze bush is being turned from bar stock to fit the throttle link being machined in the milling section further on in this chapter.

1. The first operation when turning anything in the lathe is to face the end of the bar. It is important that the tool is set to the centre height of the lathe.

2. Once the end is true, it is ready for boring out the centre. A centre drill is used to mark the centre and give a normal drill bit a good start.

3. Bronze is a tough material, and a sharp drill is required: starting small, I drilled a pilot hole to the depth of bush that was required.

4. The final drill used was 13mm in diameter. The finished size of the hole was to be 14mm, so it needed opening out with a boring tool to 13.95mm, leaving a small amount to be taken out with a reamer.

5. The boring tool was set to centre height and used with very light cuts to open the drilled hole to just under the finished size. Care needs to be taken when boring in a blind hole.

6. The outside needed to be turned down to just over 16mm for an interference fit in the hole that was milled in the throttle lever (seen in the milling spread).

7. To avoid turning down the bush too far, a short section is turned first, then if you do go too far, this can be machined off – if you have turned the whole bush too small it will be scrap.

8. The final diameter of the bush is to be 16.15mm, measured with a micrometer; this allows a tight fit in the throttle link once it is pushed in with the press.

9. The sign of a sharp tool: long lengths of swarf are produced as the bar is reduced in diameter.

10. The bronze bush all to size and ready to be parted off with a parting tool.

11. As the parting tool breaks through, catch the bush on a piece of rod or something similar, not with the hand: this is a posed shot!

12. The milled throttle link, the new bush and a new pin ready to be fitted.

The second set gives an outline of how to turn an internal thread on the lathe: in this case I am making some nuts to fit the Ferguson TE20 steering column, as these are not available from suppliers.

1. Before you can think about cutting a thread, you will first need to know the angle, pitch and diameter so that the lathe can be set accordingly.

2. On lathes without a gearbox, the thread cutting pitch is determined by a train of gears; the inside of the cover gives the right settings.

3. The train of gears set to cut the thread pitch, in this case 28tpi, and of course in the right direction.

4. While the thread cutting was being done, the lathe back gear was engaged: this slows the headstock speed so the whole operation can be controlled easily.

5. The first job is to centre the hexagon bar with a centre drill: this allows the subsequent operations to be on centre.

6. The bulk of the metal was removed with a twist drill; this was followed by turning it to the thread inside diameter with a sharp lathe tool.

7. To get an accurate thread the tool needs to be set square to the axis of the lathe; here it is being done with a setting gauge and a piece of silver steel held in the chuck.

8. To help the tool cut, the top slide is set over to half the included angle of the thread being cut, and the tool is advanced into the cut by adjusting the top slide: this allows the tool to cut on one plane.

9. Once the thread had been cut, the end was faced off square.

10. To match the original nuts, the corners were machined off by setting the top slide to the correct angle.

11. A parting tool was used to separate the new nut from the hexagon bar; this was later held in reverse in the chuck and then finished the same as the other side.

12. The nut on the right is an original that I borrowed from another tractor, while on the left is a new one just machined on the lathe.


Whereas in a lathe the component is rotated and a stationary tool does the cutting, the way a milling machine works is in essence the reverse: the work is usually clamped to the machine table and traversed under a rotating cutter. If the machine is large enough and the operator is confident in such procedures, it is possible to skim your own cylinder heads and suchlike.

Simple Milling Operations

One simple task to which the milling machine with a vertical cutting head is suited is boring out a worn hole where a shaft or pin has, over time, made the hole oval. The example in the pictures is typical of this type of wear: it is a throttle link on a French-built SFV 302 tractor, where two levers sit on one 14mm pin; one lever has minimal wear, the other has excessive wear in the lever and the part of the pin it sits against. The pin is no problem, as this will be replaced with a piece of silver steel hardened and tempered before fitting. The lever boss will be bored with a 16mm milling slot drill: obviously this will make the hole in the lever boss even bigger, and to alleviate this a bush will be turned on the lathe from bronze and pushed into the lever boss, with the bush finally being reamed to size (14mm) with a hand reamer.

A milling attachment for the Myford ML10 lathe, but again, it can do very useful work on the smaller scale.

A large milling machine, with horizontal and vertical cutting capabilities; it is old but very useful, especially for the larger tractor components, once you have gained confidence in its use.

The hardest part of the job is to align the lever in the mill so that it is square to the cutter, especially as the hole is oval. The easiest way is to pack up the lever and clamp it to the table; to get the hole in the right place under the cutting head, adjustments can be made on the tables X and Y planes with a cutter, drill bit or piece of rod the same diameter as the original pin. Adjustments are made until the cutter (or whatever) fits into the worn hole

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