Video: ESB workhorse brought back to its former 1980s glory

AgriLand paid a visit to a diesel-fuelled Ford and Ford-derived tractor event in Kilkenny last month (Sunday, December 30).

The gathering was the brainchild of the South East Ireland Ford 6 Cylinder club.

John W Anderson was there; he spoke to Jim Fitzpatrick, who brought along a splendid-looking County 774.

He explained: “I bought this tractor on DoneDeal about eight years ago; it came up for sale down in Kerry.

It was formerly bought new by the ESB in 1981; they bought four of them on the same day.

“So this tractor, on that day, actually cost £35,000 (Irish punts) brand new. It was fitted with a Hiab crane on the back and a 10t winch on the front. Its job was to do ESB power lines up around Kinnegad and that area.”

Bought by the ESB

Jim continued: “They used those tractors for some years and then they were left lying in a yard idle, so they eventually sold them off in the ESB auctions. That’s where my tractor came from.

“It was in really bad shape when I got it. I didn’t know anything about tractor restoration; I’d never had a tractor before. When I got it, it was a steep learning curve.

“It took me five years to get the tractor to where we are today. Some of it was very enjoyable; some of it was a bit frustrating – trying to source parts and that.

“I got advice from a lot of people, that you’d actually make contact with at these events very easily. Everybody seems to be very helpful and friendly. It’s a great place to start.

You meet all the right people, who have all the contacts.

He explained: “The cab was the biggest job on the tractor to do; all the wings were rotten. A new roof skin [was needed]. There were several welding jobs; I had to teach myself how to weld first.”

Thankfully, he joked, it “hasn’t fallen apart yet”.

“Most of the glass was in the cab at the time, but we had to buy some – and it’s very hard glass to source. It’s toughened glass and there’s actually a green tint in it as well.

“When I got the tractor I took the cab off and took it all apart – down to just the bare chassis.

“I ended up doing all the paint-work myself, except for the bonnet, the nose-cone and the diesel tank. I got them professionally done. My work wouldn’t be up to that kind of a standard.

“[As for] the wheels and tyres; at one stage I had 10 different tyres for the tractor, but not one matching set. I sold all those off eventually and bought a new set. Philip Ireland fitted them for me and did a really good job.

Engine wise, the tractor was pretty sound, [along with] brakes, steering and all that. Just some hub seals and a few oil leaks [needed fixing] – typical Ford stuff like that.

“There was actually a major leak on the sump, so all of the front axle had to come off to do that. That was a pretty big job for me.”

Future plans

Describing his plans for the tractor, Jim said: “Anything that’s going on, we’ll try to bring it along – to show the tractor. That’s what it’s for.”

He also had some parting advice for budding tractor restorers; to find out more, don’t forget to watch the video.