Buyer’s guide: What you should look out for in a used MF 4300 Series

Massey Ferguson’s 4300 Series was the last of a long line of tractors built at Banner Lane, Coventry.

The factory itself was built in 1939-1940 to manufacture aircraft engines; it started making tractors for Harry Ferguson after the war. Half a million Ferguson 20 tractors were built there in the ten years after 1946.

On Christmas Eve 2002, the last tractor – an MF 4345 – rolled off the line marking the end of the firm’s UK production. Over 3.3 million tractors had been manufactured there.

The 4300 Series was launched in 2001; its design evolved from earlier Coventry-built favourites such the 4200 and 300 Series. They have an enduring popularity with dairy and cattle farmers – chiefly due to their compact size, unfettered power and relative simplicity.

Engine and transmission

The Massey Ferguson 4355, in particular, is a mid-range model; it develops 100hp from its Perkins four-cylinder, 4L turbo-charged engine.

Massey Ferguson MF

Available in 2WD or 4WD guise, it is often thought of as a more modern, updated version of the classic 390T (there was also a 4200 Series model in between, of course).

The 4300 Series comprised seven models ranging from 67 to 116hp (ISO TR14396). The four smaller models all had four-cylinder engines; the range-topping 4370 had a six-cylinder motor.

Initially available as a replacement for the earlier 399, the non turbo-charged six-cylinder 4360 was later replaced by the 4365 (which, instead, had a turbo-charged and inter-cooled four-cylinder engine).

A variety of transmission options was available; the Irish favourite was the 12F 12R manual shuttle ‘box’. Wet-clutch PowerShuttle ‘boxes’ included 12F 12R or 24F 24R versions – the latter with a two-speed splitter.

Massey Ferguson MF

A robust 18F 6R gearbox was also produced; it did have a clutchless splitter but no (forward/reverse) shuttle. It was rarely specified on 4300 Series tractors here in Ireland.

Both 30kph and 40kph variants were produced, with automatic four-wheel-braking on 4WD models. A trailer brake valve was also fitted as standard. Differential lock and 4WD activation is via rocker-switches on the side console. A hydraulic locking differential for the Dana front axle afforded good traction when needed.

Axles are generally reliable, but if fitted with a loader may suffer from worn king-pin bearings or pivots. As with any tractor, front axle oil leaks need to be investigated promptly as, if left unattended, may cause further damage.

Massey Ferguson MF

The PTO was electro-hydraulically engaged with two speeds – either 540/540E or 540/1,000rpm – available.

Transmissions are mostly trouble-free; however, the issue of a small spring breaking in the range selector within the gearbox has ‘plagued’ these tractors – from the 300 Series on.

Although a well-known issue, it actually seems to have affected only a relatively small number of tractors. In any case, to check it out ensure that the tractor changes ranges smoothly and positively.

If it breaks, you will not be able to select a higher range than the one you are in. However, Ronnie Martin, of Martin’s Garage (who assisted with this article), explained: “You would have to be very unlucky to have that spring break on you. I wouldn’t hesitate to trade one in or worry about it.”

Inside the cab

The six-post cab is an update of the earlier 4200 Series unit; the main difference being a short console-mounted gear lever replacing the earlier floor-mounted version.

Massey Ferguson MF

The cab is fitted with two doors and curved, rear ‘three-quarter’ windows. An optional ‘high visibility’ roof was available; so too was a ‘low profile’ (reduced height) cab on certain models. A mechanical suspension seat is standard; an air seat and air conditioning were available as options.

Massey Ferguson MF

Noise levels are acceptable at 80dB or under. Both standard and ‘HiVis‘ bonnet options were available; the steeply-sloping HiVis option was especially handy where a front loader was fitted.

Linkage and hydraulics

As standard, the rear three-point linkage was rated at 4t; additional assister rams could boost this to 5t.

Lift controls were mechanical on most examples; however, ELC (Electronic Linkage Control) was optional. External lift controls were fitted, along with quick-attach lift-arm ends on most models.

Two external spool valves were the minimum; up to four could be specified.

Massey Ferguson MF

A console-mounted joystick could be ordered for easier loader operation. Open-centre hydraulics, with a standard oil flow of just 38L/min, provided modest performance. This could be boosted using Massey Ferguson’s combined-flow system; it allowed the operator to disable the rear linkage – thus ‘locking’ pump output to result in a much more usable 66L/min.

A durable Dromone pick-up hitch was a familiar fitting, along with a double-ended drawbar. This (standard) unit didn’t telescope – necessitating a mirror when hitching up. Alas, many of these mirrors have since come to grief.

Specifications: Massey Ferguson 4355
  • Engine: 4L; four-cylinder; turbo-charged;
  • Power: 100hp;
  • Torque: 403Nm @ 1,400rpm;
  • Weight: 3.75t (no ballast; depending on specification);
  • Rear lift: 4t (5t optional);
  • Transmission: 30kph or 40kph; various configurations;
  • Hydraulic output: 38L/min (66L/min optional); 210 bar maximum;
  • Fuel capacity: 127L (standard);
  • Cab noise level: <80dB.

Typical Asking Prices

The 4355 is still very capable and quite popular, despite the fact it has been out of production for over a decade-and-a-half.

Massey Ferguson MF

Specifications can vary widely, due to the plethora of configurations, but prices range from €15,000 (excluding VAT) for rougher examples up to €24,000 (excluding VAT) for clean, original, low-houred tractors.

Bear in mind, of course, that a ‘tidy’ loader will significantly boost asking prices.

Thanks to Martin’s Garage, Bailieboro, Co. Cavan, for its help in producing this article.