Austin Seven Powered Tractors - An Agricultural Austin by Phillip Merrills

Source: The Association Grey Magazine 1980C (Pages 4 and 5)


By Phillip Merrills

Perhaps the most immediately interesting feature of my Austin Seven Tractor is its two 3 speed crash gearboxes mounted one behind the other, giving nine forward gears and six in reverse; low gear is really low!

The first gearbox bolts to the crankcase in the normal way and the second is coupled to it by a modified clutch centre plate and a rear take-off spider in conjunction with a fabric coupling. The bell housing on the second gearbox has been cut away. The power is transmitted from this gearbox directly to the rear axle through another fabric coupling.

The torque tube has been drastically shortened to make room for the second gearbox. The rear axle is bolted directly onto the chassis and no rear springs are employed (Ouch!).

Turning attention to the front of the tractor, the photograph shows clearly how a Chummy radiator is fitted into a special cowling which supports the petrol tank. This is similar to the conventional tractor and gives gravity feed to the carburettor.

All the wheels are cast steel. They are very heavy and account for a substantial proportion of the tractors weight. The front ones are 17 inches in diameter, ribbed and fitted with Austin Seven Centres. The rear ones are 22 inches in diameter and have angle iron grips welded across them to improve the traction. Again standard Austin centres are used. Brakes are only fitted to the rear wheels.

This particular tractor came into my possession about four years ago. I was at a nearby farm, to see if an old car which was there, was for sale, when I asked the farmer if I could look around. There were various farm implements there and five or six other tractors. Quite unexpectedly, I noticed between two of them, half sunk in the mud, an Austin Seven Tractor. It only had half a chassis, no steering wheel and no bottom to the petrol tank. The magneto was missing and one rear wing was lying nearby.

It had been bought about five years earlier from a scrapyard and before that had belonged to a market gardener.

Unfortunately, I was ill and off work at the time and although we did a deal on the spot, it was three months before I could collect it. Then, like all new things, It took pride of place in the garage and three months hard work followed to get into shape again.

Another chassis was fitted, along with the radiator. In order to keep the original form of the petrol tank, a new one was enclosed within the old skin. New rear wings were made following the pattern of the one I had picked up when the tractor was found. The engine (M52267) appeared to have been rebuilt a very short time before it was scrapped and was in excellent condition.

Now that it is restored, it runs well but is a bit of a handful and has an exceptionally sharp clutch.

I believe this to be an original tractor of Austin manufacture made for use in market gardens. I recall being told by an elderly gentleman at a show I attended at British Leyland that he "used to work for Austins and could remember making them." This one, first registered in 1927, is built in the style of the late twenties and has a lot of work in the body lines and wheels which would make it very expensive as a one-off project.

The Austin Seven Motoring Pages