Saturday, May 31, 2008

Won Over By A Ransomes Crawler

Three years ago I took over a rather overgrown allotment. It had not been cultivated for years and the ground was hard and full of weeds. The big question was how to bring it under control. Should I attempt too dig it by hand? No, that could take forever. There was only one decision to make - I needed to acquire a rotavator.

But, which one? Well, given my interest in vintage machines, it was easy. I wanted a 2-stroke Shay rotavator from the 1950's. So, using the Look What I Have Found website I found just what I was looking for. I was now in business.

After a little checking over, setting points and cleaning the carburettor, the Shay fired up on a second pull of the starter - brilliant! The sound and smell of the 2-stroke took me back years to when I used to help my father. Without delay, I went straight to the allotment to try it out.

Unfortunately, my enthusiasm was short-lived. Although the rotavator performed very well, the job was going to take weeks. I needed a bigger machine.

Back to Look What I Have Found to search for another purchase. This time, I found a Howard Gem rotavator. Originally, this machine was used in market gardens to prepare large areas of ground. With its 5 horse power, 4-stroke engine, it pulled like a tank. This I was convinced would plough through the soil like water.

But, although the Howard worked well, it spread the weeds rather than removing them. It was obvious; I needed a plough and drag harrow mechanism not a rotavator!

Back to Look What I Have Found to search yet again for another purchase. This time, I found a Mayfield garden tractor with all its attachments - plough, cultivator and disc harrows. This must be the answer, I thought.

After a careful run with the cultivator toolbar, the results looked very promising. The ground was well tilled and the weeds had been gathered together for scooping up. I was happy ... or was I?

With my success in tracking down garden machinery, I continued to search Look What I Have Found for books and information about these machines. This was disastrous. Each search revealed something better. Finally, I stumbled upon an old Ransomes MG2 crawler with tools.

That was it. I was hooked. This machine epitomised everything I needed to bring my allotment back to life. From that point onwards, my addiction began. I now have 21 of them blocking my drive, my garage, my garden; from MG2s to MG40s. I love them all!

My army of ransomes crawlers

As most of the machines were not working when I first got them, I have spent many hours bringing them back to life. So, I thought it would be helpful to pass on my experience to other owners and future owners of Ransomes Crawlers.

Therefore, over the next few weeks, I will present a series of articles showing different aspects of the machines. Each article will highlight a specific problem, show how the problem was analysed and then show how it was resolved.

If there is any specific aspect of a Ransomes Crawler that you would like to discuss, please leave a comment and I will get back to you immediately.