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TAS Country : September 2nd 2010
Friday, September 3, 2010 Tasmanian Country 23 Machinery WORKHORSE: An early Marshall on steel wheels. Marshall faithful orm. 'The Model 10-20 tractor was originally designed with a two forward speed transmission which was carried into the first tractor built as the re-rated Model 12-20.' tractor serial number 210 was sent to France and a third example, erection No.3 serial number 213 built in May 1936 which was kept by Marshalls themselves at the Britannia Iron Works. By now Thomas W Ward were Marshalls controlling owners and they could see their future lay in diesel powered products. Priority was placed on gearing up to full production of the Marshall Model 12-20 and retiring Model 18-30. Pricewise, the Marshall Model 12-20 would never be able to compete with the Fordson Model N tractor on cost alone but Marshalls had a reputation for solid, reliable equipment and still had a list of faithful clientele. Nevertheless, Marshalls had to try to make the Model 12-20 an attractive machine in basic form. A new Marshall Model 12-20 would come to you complete with a tool kit, grease gun, oil can, an essential spare parts kit, service/parts manuals and a tarpaulin to keep the weather off . Production tractors now offered pneumatic rubber tyre equipment from the Dunlop Company as an option. The front wheels wore 6x19 inches tyres and the rear tyre size was 12.75x28 inches. While early tractors had been painted grey, production model 12-20 tractors were generally dark green with silver or red wheel rims wearing the lettering ''Marshall Diesel Tractor'' on the bonnet although Marshalls would still use pin striping and the famed ''Britannia'' transfer if the customer insisted. Model 12-20 tractors would be exported all over the world and examples sent to Australia generally wore wide rear mudguards, a standard chaff screen for the radiator, a tall air cleaner intake stack with mesh filter intake and an extended exhaust stack, but not exclusively as I have seen a photo of at least one tractor that did get here wearing the English narrow rear mudguards and low air cleaner intake with domed cover. Through Tasmanian agents A.G Webster Woolgrowers and Dalgetys in NSW, these two states got the bulk of Marshall Model 12-20 tractors sold in Australia. Thomas W Ward were keen to exploit the Model 12-20 in all manner of applications, contractor models with medium or heavy duty winches and lighting were offered and threshing contractors could further option up their tractors with a front end hitch to better manoeuvre equipment into place, a belt roller on the front axle or even ask for a full length canopy in steam engine fashion. Industrial applications were also explored with the Model 12-20 offered as a shunting unit, as a stationary power unit (the T-20), a front tipping dumper unit and as a road roller (Model RC). For tractors intended to haul extremely heavy loads, Firestone offered cast rear wheels that incorporated drums to allow hydraulic rear wheel brakes to be fitted. If Marshalls had more up to date production methods the Model 12-20 would have been a runaway success for the company but with old fashioned steam engine type build methods, production numbers would always be low but in late 1938 and improved version of the Model 12-20 was released known as the Model M. Gradually, modified components were introduced to Model 12-20 production such as a deeper cushioned drivers seat, new rear wheels by Firestone that were now fitted to the rear axles by 10 studs rather than a single nut, proper roller bearings in the front wheels and a coffee pot extension on top of the exhaust stack in a vain attempt to arrest any stray sparks or oil deposits. The old three spoke steering wheels gave way to a new four spoke unit and the Vokes supplied fuel filter changed to a C.A.V unit. There was no set serial number change as components were being constantly changed in production but it is reckoned that the Model M designation was introduced around serial number 810. Further changes would be made to the cylinder head, particularly in the placement of the decompression valve; the oil pressure gauge would give way to a pop out button indicator and final drive housings strengthened to avoid breakages in those tractors fitted with the winch unit. Generally though, the safest way to identify a Model M over a Model 12-20 is by the 10 stud fitment rear wheels. Over the years in service tractors would often receive whatever part Marshalls happened to have in stock, nothing went to waste at the Britannia Iron Works so it would not be unusual to ask for a cylinder head for your Model 12-20 and receive the latest Model M unit with the decompression valve in the front of the head rather than the side. Likewise you could own a Model M and find Marshalls supplying you with the early type of head off a Model 12-20! The Model M would continue in limited production throughout the war to finally cease in 1945 when it was replaced by the all new styled Field Marshall series 1 in 1946. Marshall serial numbers are not easy to carry over into actual number of tractors built but somewhere around 190 Model 12-20 tractors were turned out of the Britannia Iron Works with probably 51 making it to Australia and those that survive today are much prized by their owners including myself. I am the proud owner of erection number 137 serial number 642 which was exported to Australia on March 30, 1938 and sold by A.G Webster to a buyer believed to be in the Campania area where it worked before being purchased in later life by Mr M Bantick of Broadmarsh who used it for many years on his property before selling it to me for preservation. Of my three Gainsborough built tractors on show at the Vintage Tractor Shed Museum in Westbury it is certainly my favourite; another example in Pearns Steam World also at Westbury is available for enthusiasts to inspect. It would appear that no Marshall Model M tractors were exported outside the British Isles. With the dark clouds of World War 2 on the horizon, the 1938 shipment of Model 12-20 tractors was the last we would see here; Mother England could see that the Model M tractors were going to be needed at home for food production and the UK/ Ireland is where these tractors stayed. Nevertheless, those 51 or so Marshall Model 12-20 tractors that got to Australia laid the foundation for England's post war export drive and set up the later Field Marshall tractors as successful products here --- but that's another story!
August 26th 2010
September 9th 2010