Classic corner: Moffett MFTs abound in Monaghan

Moffett MFTs (Multi-Function Tractors) are becoming ever scarcer. Despite this, one dealer in Co. Monaghan has managed to amass five of these unique machines – including Massey Ferguson and New Holland derived models.

AgriLand paid this garage – namely Shaun Griffiths Tractors – a visit to find out more. There, we came upon a cluster of these eye-catching contraptions – each of which combines the attributes of a tractor and an industrial loader in one clever package.

What is the Moffett MFT?

Moffett’s MFT – long since out of production and now arguably a ‘classic’ – was a ‘bi-directional’ machine. You could swap the driving position around and operate it facing either forward or backward. Thanks to a bespoke cab and a purpose-designed loader, it was a more-than-capable materials handler.

Early units were built on Massey Ferguson (390T) skid units; later versions were based on Ford / New Holland tractors (7740/7840). They were produced (or converted, if you prefer) in Co. Louth – back in the 1990s.

In the case of the 7740-based version, the loader – sitting sensibly over the big, rear wheels – could lift 2t. Maximum lift height was 3.66m.

MFT Moffett

Much of Moffett’s conversion work was done in-house, including fabricating the loader arms and so on. Cabs for New Holland derived versions were shipped in from France.

MFT Moffett

Some early Massey Ferguson (MF) versions were fitted with torque converter transmissions; others had 12F 12R mechanical shuttle boxes. New Holland variants all came with SL Dual Power type transmissions.

Interestingly, MF-type units were typically yellow. Some New Holland derived models were blue; others were yellow.

In this article, we ask Shaun Griffiths why he fosters such a keen interest in these fascinating machines.

Why do you have such an obvious interest in Moffett MFTs?

They were built locally – here in Ireland – and I think the best way to describe them is as ‘tractors of interest’. I bring them to shows and road runs; they stand out from the usual Massey Ferguson 135s and the like. The MFTs generate plenty of interest, which helps the business.

How many have you had over the years?

I’ve had about 15 of them through my hands so far; I’ve been a tractor dealer since 2010. The first one I bought was a blue 7840-type model. The oldest was an MF-type version; I think it was built in October 1992.

The latest ones I’ve seen were from 1997; I haven’t seen any built after that.

MFT Moffett

How many do you have at the moment?

At the moment, I have five – though I’ve sold one of those to a farmer in Co. Clare. He’s a dairy farmer and a contractor; he has a keen interest in them too.

MFT Moffett

Two of the five are 390T-type machines – both with 12F 12 R mechanical shuttle boxes. I sourced those in Northern Ireland. The others are New Holland units – two 4-cylinder, 95hp 7740s and a 6-cylinder, 100hp 7840. One of the 7740s and the 7840 came from England; the other 7740 came from Cork.

MFT Moffett

What are the pros and cons of the MFT?

I think the New Holland versions are better machines; they’re built around a better tractor with a better transmission. As for the MF-type, I’ve only had the ones with mechanical transmissions – so I don’t know what the torque converter versions are like.

The cab is a bit narrow, but you can make your mind up on that straight away. They are really useful machines; you can convert from forward to reverse-operation [by turning the seat and swapping the steering wheel from front to rear] in about 10 seconds.

MFT Moffett

You can attach the loader in just two or three minutes. And then you’ve got a great view when you’re using it. And, with the fork or bucket taken off, you don’t always have to take the loader off. You can lift it up out of the way and there’s enough clearance to hitch up something to the back of the tractor [on the 3-point linkage].

MFT Moffett

Have you had to do much work to them?

They’re quite reliable machines to be fair. We haven’t had to do much to most of them. I do remember that we had to open up an SL Dual Power [New Holland] box on one; we had to replace the plates in the Dual Power unit. That was on a 7840 version that was sold to a buyer in Scotland.

We did an engine and transmission overhaul on one of the older 390T-type models. I remember the engine parts we needed cost about €1,400. The Perkins motor got pistons, liners and so on – and the crankshaft was re-ground and had new, over-sized bearings fitted. We did most of the work ourselves in our own workshop.

Do you have any difficulties sourcing all the parts you need?

Generally no. Because each tractor is – for the most part – either an MF 390T or a 40 Series New Holland, it’s easy to get all the major bits. However, we have struggled to get the MFT-supplied rear steering orbital units and joystick valve blocks. Because those didn’t come from either Massey or New Holland, finding those is not so easy.

In one or two cases, we’ve had to make do with a component that’s similar – but not identical – to the original. But it worked out fine in the end.

Are they all for sale?

No; I’ll keep some – including one of the 7740s. And I’ll keep looking out for them; there’s a market for them. In fact, you could almost say some fellows have a bit of a ‘fetish’ for MFTs.

MFT Moffett

How much can someone expect to pay for one?

It all depends on the age and the condition. An older MF-type model that would need some tidying could be bought for €10,000. But you could pay all the way up to €30,000 for, say, a later 7840-type model in exceptional condition.

MFT Moffett

Apart from rarities like the MFT, what are the ‘bread and butter’ tractors at your garage?

We have good demand for farmer-sized Case IH and International tractors – mostly 4-cylinder models but 6-cylinder units as well. 85 Series and 4200 Series sell well; so too do CX and MX models.

We also sell other makes of course – such as MF and Ford and so on. We do a good trade locally but also sell some tractors all over the country.

MFT Moffett

MFT Moffett

MFT Moffett

I have a good team here with me; there are two full-time in the workshop and another man is kept busy getting machines tidied up and ready for sale.

MFT Moffett

If you have a tractor or, indeed, a harvester or shovel that would make for an interesting Classic Corner read, why not get in touch? It doesn’t necessarily have to be a fully restored ‘classic’; it might even be a ‘project’ that is still a work-in-progress. In any case, we’d like to hear from you.

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