The History of the Nuffield Tractor - Conclusion

Contributed Article

History of the Nuffield Tractor: Conclusion
Last Part in the Series
by Anthony West

In the last piece I mentioned that Nuffield had reached the stage where they had chosen to drop the "Universal" from production. The two new models were given three figure numbers, instead of "three" and "four". Model numbers were introduced to help farmers and dealers instantly recognize the engine size and horsepower of the tractor, the 4/60 had a four cylinder diesel engine which developed 60 bhp at 2,000 rpm. The 3/42 had a 3 cylinder diesel engine which produced 42 bhp at 2,000 rpm.

The two new tractors had improvements to the engines and had hydraulic depth control together with independent hydraulics a new simms injector was fitted with a mechanical governor.

The 4/60 and 3/42 were built at the Morris-Motors factory, Ward end Birmingham, England. Production was later transferred to the B.M.C factory at Bathgate, Scotland.

The Bathgate factory was established in 1961 on about 250 acres of land, just outside Edinburgh. The training center for dealers and service engineers was sited opposite the factory at Mosside Farm, this measured 166 acres. It may be of interest to note that all the pictures for the sales brochures for nuffield tractors show photographs of machines in a farm environment. Either at work plowing etc or in rural settings.

This is due to all machines being photographed in situ at Mosside Farm. In August 1964, the 4/60 and 3/42 were replaced by the 10/60 and the 10/42. The main difference here being the new gearbox which offered ten forward gears and two reverse, as opposed to the old 5 forward 1 reverse. These speeds were obtained as a result of a high / low range gear system operated by two levers. The high and low situated on the left hand side of the gear box. The side pully was dropped in favor of a rear mounted pully, the hydraulic lift was strengthened and the instrument panel redesigned to incorporate a rev counter. "Self energizing" disc brakes were also introduced as a new feature on the ten.

December 1st 1965 saw "MINI" mechanization day. Nuffield tractors introduced their new "Mini" following five years of research and experimentation. The tractor was not well received, it was introduced at a time when tractors were getting larger and in fact the ten was by now classed as small. The Mini measured a mere 8ft 2.25 inches long and 3ft. 8.5 inches from the ground to the bonnet top, it weighed in at 2,098 lbs.

A large amount of the development was done by "Harry Ferguson Research" of coventry (this may have accounted for the great similarity with the early T.E 20 of the 50's). It was offered with either a BMC 950cc petrol or diesel engine and put out a mere 15 bhp.

The gearbox was a three reverse nine forward gears, via a high/ medium/ low/ reverse gear lever and a 1st 2nd 3rd gear lever which had a safety start feature. Due to poor sales, by November 1968 the BMC Mini was changed. A larger engine (BMC 1.5L) was added giving an extra 10 bhp at 2,000 rpm and the name was changed. The new Mini became known as the Nuffield 4/24, it became distinguishable by the poppy orange coach work with white wheels.

In July 1967 the Nuffield 4/65 and 3/45 tractors replaced the 10/60 and 10/42 models. The new tractors were quickly criticized by farmer, and the press who disliked the new styling as opposed to the old Universal style. The new gearbox had two levers (side by side) giving 2 reverse and 10 forward speeds, the engine was again improved but suffered many faults, engine vibration being the most annoying.

The hydraulic linkage was also updated, a pick up hook was available and the new 16 gallon fuel tank was placed at the front of the machine. The wheel base was also extended to a total length of 80 inches. Shell type mudguards went and full "square type" were brought in.

The steering drag link bar was incorporated inside the engine frame, the hydraulic levers were changed and mounted in a quadrant on the right hand side of the driver together with the depth control lever as similar with other makes. The instrument panel was set just below the steering wheel and a hand throttle was added on the left side below the wheel.

Regardless of all the "improvements" the machine soon acquired the tag of being unreliable which ultimately began the decline in confidence in the Nuffield brand.

The B.M.C (British Motor Company) had been bought out by "British Leyland" by 1968, but at the royal show Leyland promised to keep the "Nuffield Tractor" line and disclosed plans to consolidate and expand it. After a year of designing and testing, rumors of a new " big" Nuffield tractor started to filter out of the Bathgate factory. In November 1969 three new machines were unveiled, however the Nuffield name along with the poppy orange and white livery had been dropped. The name had changed too, the tractors were now labeled "Leyland" (Nuffield) although the Nuffield was relegated to being a small sticker above the model number. Even this was to disappear the following year.

1969 Leyland The Leyland 154, 344 and 384 machines were now painted 2 tone blue with silver wheels, the engine gearbox and hydraulics were dark blue, whilst the bonnet and mudguards were light blue. The 384 was powered by a 70 hp, 3.4 litre 4 cylinder diesel engine, which apart from the addition of a harmonic balancer on the crankshaft to alleviate the vibration and a small increase in power was similar to the 4/65. However the restyling improved the machine no end. The instrument panel remained the same as that of the 4/65.

The Leyland 154 was the same as the Nuffield 4/25 apart from the change in color and three bars added to the front grill. In 1969 the retail price of the 384 De-lux was £1,186. The 344 De-lux £1,080 and the 154 De-lux was £680.

The 384 model number stands for a 3.8 litre engine of four cylinders, the 344 3.4 litre engine with four cylinders and the 154 for a 1.5 litre four cylinder all of which remained unchanged until 1979 when production ceased.

The old Nuffield tractor was still recognizable even in the new Leylands and in fact the Marshall tractors owe a lot to the original Nuffield tractor of 40 years ago. Leyland Tractors were eventually sold off to the "Marshall and Sons" and company of Gainsborough, England in 1981 when the "Leyland" name was dropped in favor of "Marshall" who still held some semblance of stability and a name for reliability and quality. Something which the Leyland group had lost and never recovered due to the economic troubles brought on in the 70's following all the union strikes.

That concludes the history of Nuffield tractors in laymen's terms and I hope that the information in this article may be of use and interest to the owners of the Nuffield Tractor world wide.

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