Classic corner: Kilkenny ‘true blue’ is ready for work or play

There are many classic tractors out there in various states of refurbishment, but few carry the visual impact of this Ford 8210 – belonging to Philip Ireland of Kilkenny.

Not only has he brought it back from its ‘ex-farm’ condition, but he has also added some magic of his own – which really makes it stand out from the crowd.

It is, as he happily admits, a show tractor first and foremost, although that hasn’t stopped him hitching it to a seven-furrow plough at a recent Ford tractor event – to give an impressive display of its capabilities. The whistle of the turbo under load was as distinctive that day as its looks are now. Even when silent, its mere presence is enough to turn heads.

Ford tractors of this era are enjoying a great following at present. Enthusiasts spend a good deal of time and money on the detail of the restoration and the overall finish, whenever they manage to get one into a workshop.

Philip (pictured below) is no exception. The end result of his hard work is a machine that is imbued with the wow factor – from stem to stern.

The brightness and clarity of the paintwork is the most immediate aspect of the tractor. The re-spray of the whole machine was undertaken by Philip Gaveny of New Ross, who has acquired a well-deserved reputation for bringing out the best in the vehicles he works on.

However, there is a lot more to this project than the paintwork; another eye-catching feature is the attachment of a front linkage from a third-party supplier.

This piece of equipment is made by Laforge, which is based in northern France. It consists of a sturdy frame that stretches back to the bell housing, alleviating the engine block of the extra strain (that a front-mounted implement would impose upon it).

At the forward end, these side members are bolted to the front axle mounting block. A a second frame – holding the lift rams and top link – is attached across the front of the radiator grill. Lifting power is supplied to the rams by hoses running back to the spool valves at the rear and operated via the normal in-cab lever.

This arrangement may not allow for draught control but it is entirely suitable for such implements as an extra spray tank or, in the case of Philip’s machine, holding around 600kg of front-end weights.

The actual lift capacity is unknown; he has yet to test it out fully.

Ford 8210

This tractor had been used for hedge-cutting before it came to Phillip, who has owned for around two years now.

The engine had been replaced shortly before purchase, so it required no further attention other than the usual service.

However, like many other operators of 8210s before him, he did fit a turbo-charger to what was a naturally-aspirated motor; a new exhaust manifold and silencer were also required.

Transmission problems were not unknown on these models and it is probably fair to say that they were approaching their limit with the 110hp produced by what was a fairly light tractor.

It’s worth noting that Ford’s next model in the power stakes, at the time, was the TW-15 – which was 2t heavier for only 22hp more. Philip, therefore, rebuilt the gearbox and added a new clutch while it was all apart.

Other items which were renewed included the tyres, steps and lights. While many of the more common items are still available from New Holland, there is a developing scarcity of body parts; he was quoted a rather terrifying €1,300 for a pair of genuine steps.

Patience is a virtue and, eventually, a much more reasonably priced set turned up – saving him well over €1,000. This philosophy of waiting for parts to come to him is presently being applied to a couple of smaller items of trim; these are the only details standing between the present situation and a complete restoration.

The cab roof is also a new item and its bright white finish adds greatly to the overall effect. New plough lamps were installed, as were the rear light clusters, but the rather feeble looking front headlamps were replaced by a much more meaningful set – mounted on the front hitch.

The original items on these tractors always did look like something of an afterthought, as if the Ford ‘stylists’ had forgotten them completely – until the last moment. Philip has certainly put that right and, again, they add tremendously to its presentation.

The dreaded rust was not any great problem on the body panels; most work was needed for the cab where a bent mudguard and rot beneath the window rubbers required attention. Both these areas are now looking as smart as the day they were new. The originality of the metalwork has been retained.

No cab interior with 26 years of working life behind it is going to remain pristine. This tractor is no exception, so it was re-fitted inside and a new seat installed. The switches and levers are a little faded but they all work, are clean and nothing is missing or broken.

The clock shows 6,700 hours on the digital dash, which was an early nod to the coming tsunami of electronics. It is often feared that dependence upon electronics will reduce the reliability of modern tractors, or at least add greatly to the expense of repair. Yet, here they are – a quarter of a century later – still working perfectly.

However, there is not the complexity on these models from the 1980s and 1990s as there is today.

As to the future Philip does have the tractor up for sale at €25,000 (on DoneDeal) and is unlikely to move from that figure. He is in no great rush to sell, so he will continue to enjoy it while he can.

Although leading a busy life running his tyre-fitting business, he intends to get along to a few tractor runs and rallies this coming season – including the ‘Silage Extravaganza‘ event at Fethard in July. For aficionados of well-preserved Fords, it is certainly worth getting along to see in real life.