Our Ferguson FE35 by Massey Ferguson... 

... was purchased in 1984 from a farmer on Salt Spring Island in British Columbia, Canada. We intended to use it for hauling logs and firewood-making as well as some clearing and gardening on our 10 acre (4.5 ha) property.
     It has performed flawlessly in those tasks over the years, but it has also become a hobby–in fact a most enjoyable passion. Since it is a working tractor we've spent much time maintaining it and making functional improvements to it over the years. We've not had time to pay much attention to its appearance but maybe someday we'll get busy cleaning up the sheet metal and in general making it look more like those beautiful show tractors we so admire. Truth is though that we'd rather have it smell of manure or soil than of enamel paint!

FE35 front view

  serial number plate  

Here's the serial number plate which shows that our FE35 is a standard (chassis) width agricultural tractor (S) with a Standard 23C diesel engine (D), and a deluxe model with dual clutch (M).
     According to the serial number, it was built at the Banner Lane Works of the Standard Motor Company in Coventry, England on Friday, the 9th of October 1959.
     The engine's serial number is SJ128117ED, and the coded dates on the transmission and differential indicate that these were cast on the 14th and 24th of September 1959, respectively.


The 6 foot blade has been used and abused for scraping both soil and snow and even turned at an angle and used as a makeshift plough. You'll notice that the wiring for the plough light is not done yet and that the sealed beam is missing. We use the triangular 'slow moving vehicle' sign when we drive on public roads.


splitting firewood

The hydraulic logsplitter is one of the most useful implements we have. We bought this heavy-duty unit many years ago and it has worked well for around 25 years now. We split between 4 and 5 cords of wood a year for our woodstove and fireplace. Here is detailed information about the log splitter.

This is part of our veggie garden. It's located in one of the only meadow areas on our property which in general consists mostly of woodland and rocky outcropings. Our terrain has an altitude difference of about 150 feet so the tractor's fairly wide wheelbase helps keep it on an even keel on the slopes. Our trees are mostly Douglas and balsam fir with a sprinkling of arbutus. We have hardly any red cedars as we slope toward the south and cedars prefer more northerly cooler, wetter conditions.

The electric re-wiring has been particularly important since the Standard diesel 23c engine is notoriously difficult to start.
     The re-wiring began when we replaced the original Lucas dynamo with a rebuilt Delco 10-SI alternator. The dynamo produced its maximum output of about 20A around 2000 rpm with a cut-in rpm of 1050-1200. We seldom reached 2000 rpm, and most of the time we ran below 1200 rpm due to the difficulty of our terrain. It was no wonder that the dynamo couldn't supply enough current to properly charge the battery, which in turn contributed to our starting difficulties.
     When we replaced the Lucas dynamo with a 63A alternator, the battery charging improved substantially, and when we later added a second battery—doubling the starting current available— the starting performance improved even further.


Our FE35 wiring

CLICK HERE to download a PDF of this wiring diagram

A writer from Australia recently told me that his alternator wouldn't charge with the indicator light hooked up. After he added a 50 ohm resistor 'across' the light (i.e., in parallel, which makes the combined resistance of the light and the resistance very small), the exciter wire carried enough current to get the alternator to start charging. Here's what the setup looks like with the resistor added.

Also, depending on your particular type of alternator, a momentary increase in speed, up to about 2000 RPM, often helps getting the alternator to start charging.

  50 ohm resistor

NEW  Updated glow plug details

My glow plug ballast resistor recently burned out again which meant that the glow plugs couldn't work. This forced me to make a quick repair to the coil, and also to begin investigating replacements. Take a look at more details with photos and diagrams about my 23C glow plugs here.

Starting the 23C engine

We made several changes to the wiring and pre-heating setup in order to enhance the starting performance.
     First, we collected all the major ground connections in one spot on one of the large bolts connecting the clutch housing with the engine (see the right-hand side view photo above). This ensures a better ground connection, thus a higher starting current. One writer has suggested that the positive and negative battery cables ought to be of the same size, i.e., 2/0 gauge. However, our present positive battery fitting is larger than the negative one—the same as in any other vehicle—so some adaptation would have to be made. If you have any thoughts about this, please email me.
     Then we connected the gear safety switch to the alternator exciter wire through an indicator light on the dash. As described in the above diagram, the indicator lamp lights up when the engine is shut off to make sure that we remember to move the high-low gear shift lever away from 'S' so as not to drain the batteries.
     We also installed a lower radiator hose heater and a magnetic block heater. The magnetic heater gets attached under the air filter oil canister, but removed when underway.
      In addition to all these little improvements, you might also consider replacing (or rebuilding) the starter motor, or at least the solenoid. One writer from Alberta wrote "I ordered a new starter... [and] am glad I did. It fired up on the first turn like my car - awsome. It may have been a solonoid problem but I decided to upgrade both." I guess after fifty-some years starter motors get tired.
      Finally, nothing really beats some form of winter shelter for the tractor—preferably a heated one—when the outside temperatures drop. Occasionally, we have used a large 20x30 foot heavy tarp over the tractor, and this works well as it keeps the heat from the radiator and magnetic heater from escaping. This is somewhat similar to how they keep airplanes warm overnight in Northern Canada by throwing an insulated blanket over the engine.

lower radiator hose heater  




to download a catalogue
page showing specs for
both of these heaters


All these improvements have really helped the tractor start easier in cold weather. An engine rebuild would undoubtedly also be a big improvement, but that'll have to wait for a little while yet. We recently received a great engine rebuilding DVD from Vintage Tractor Engineer in England. It runs for a little over 2 hours and is so well made and so detailed that even we non-mechanics will be able to do a complete rebuild of the 23c engine.

transfer valve  






The hydraulic take-off setup which we use for the log splitter

Above is a photo of the hydraulic transfer plate we removed from the top cover, and in the larger photo (above left) the selector valve we installed in its place for diverting the hydrauic fluid from the lift arms to the log splitter.
     To the left is shown the quick-disconnect bracket which is attached to the rear differential housing.
     To operate the log splitter we simply turn the selector valve toward the rear position and pull up the lift lever on the quadrant to maximum lift. We usually run the engine at 1200 rpm when splitting wood, but a bit higher if the wood is very dry and hard.
     More hydraulic details are shown here.

FE35 tractormeter
Click photo to enlarge tractormeter
Ferguson hood badge MF decal on back of seat


More links will be added here as time goes on. Most of the tractor inquiries I receive ask about where to obtain parts, so if you know of any good ones, or if you'd like to be listed yourself, please send me an email.

Vintage Tractor Engineer - great source for a 23c diesel engine rebuilding DVD as well as technical information about tractors in general. You can also find expert answers to technical questions on this website.
        And check out their Massey Ferguson 35 Hydraulics DVD (includes TO35 and FE35 tractors) Troubleshooting And Repair. It'll enable just about anyone to repair or adjust a tractor's hydraulic system.


Friends of Ferguson - much good reading about Fergies, including a list of British equipment and parts suppliers.

Jack in Ontario, Canada  has an FE35 very similar to ours. He's got a bunch of really nice photos here.

Wilson Auto Electric Products supplies excellent re-manufactured alternators like the 10-SI to dealers across the country. They also have a catalogue with specs and cross-references for alternators and starter motors.

These are some of the suppliers I'd check if I were looking for parts:

I would ask your local Massey Ferguson dealer first. Our closest MF dealer is not very close, so we usually go to a Kubota/New Holland dealer who is only a short distance away. They have a CD they pop into their computer and it shows most after-market parts available for the MF35/FE35. We've had good luck getting parts from them. It seems a non-MF dealer may have access to a larger assortment of after-market parts than a MF dealer.

Chown Tractor Parts in Nova Scotia has been recommened as a supplier of both new after-market parts as well as used parts. They ship all across North America.

CanadianChains.ca supplies tire chains and chain adjusters and is a company located in Canada. Their prices and service seem very competitive—and you don't have to worry about duty and brokerage on items imported from the US. I already had a set of chains for our FE35, but I recently bought a set of rubber bungee spiders (chain adjusters item #0220) from them. They're pretty easy to put on and they keep the chains nice and tight. As a result, the chains seem to grip better and supposedly will last longer.

Latest info about this product: After using the rubber tighteners for two winters, I noticed a couple of cracks in the rubber arms where they join the ring in the middle. The type using all metal parts and springs instead of rubber is probably a better choice for chain tighteners.

Ferguson hood badge    fractured spider

Bare-Co in Australia lists an extensive selection of after-market parts for the FE35, TO35 and MF35. They have two main catalogues, one for British and one for US built tractors. Unfortunately, they won't ship to North America but has a US branch. When you inquire from Canada about parts they refer you to a US dealer... who to me at least doesn't seem too interested in shipping smaller parts to Canada, except via UPS which incurs some hefty shipping and brokerage fees. They seem to have nice stuff though, and their online catalogue lists a lot of MF parts including their MF numbers.

You might try the Canadian (or US) Sparex dealer. However, I had one Canadian writer who contacted them but was not successful in getting what he was looking for.

Most of the British suppliers seem to stock brands such as Sparex, QTP, Vapormatic, etc. Popular supply companies in England are southerntractorspares.co.uk   agrilineproducts.com   fergiland.co.uk and malpasonline.co.uk.

NEW  LR Spare Parts supplied me with the new 12 volt pencil (probe) style glow plugs and wiring. One major advantage of these new plugs is that they cost approximately one fifth of the old wire type.

I don't know what shipping costs in general are from England, but the thing to do is send them an email and ask what airmail for the items you want would cost. As an example, a friend from the West Coast of Canada had 4 glow plugs shipped from LR Spare Parts via Royal Mail for 10.81 GBP. As for shipping from the US, I try to not use couriers like FedEx and UPS as the brokerage fee and customs can be quite high. That's why, if they won't ship via the post office, I try to avoid buying from them. Shipments from England to Canada via air mail usually takes 10 days or a bit less.

Finally, if all else fails, a trip to one of your local tractor wrecking yards might be worthwhile. Or look for one on the internet. Again, if you've had good luck with a supplier of parts, please send me an email and let me know so I can add them to this list.

©1999-2017    Per Rasmussen
Updated 25 January 2017

The information presented on these webpages is a description of our tractor and of how we have dealt with various problems associated with it. It is not intended as recommendations and we accept no responsibility for the use of this information, nor are we responsible for the contents of external links.




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