The Ferguson TO-20 and 9N Ford tractor are commonly confused with each other. If you’re making repairs, it’s important to know what you have! In addition to mechanical differences, one of these tractors has a big claim to fame – read to the end to find out what it is.
The easiest and most reliable way to tell which model of tractor you have is to look at the serial plate. The TO-20 and 9N are similar enough that a quick glance (or even a look at the hood) won’t be definitive. If you’re ordering parts, it’s worth your time to double-check.
There are plenty of similarities between these two tractors. They have the same paint scheme (grey all over), same tires, and the same rim, to name a few commonalities.
Big differences: the motor and the carburetor.
The TO-20 uses a Continental Z-120 motor. Ford produced their own engine for the 9N. The carburetors are different, too: The TO-20 uses a Zenith, and the 9N has a Marvel carburetor.
Some people call the Ford 9N tractors a “Ford-Ferguson” tractor. While I know what they’re talking about, this technically isn’t the name of any model of tractor. It can be confusing! The 9N Fords were advertised as having a Ferguson Hydraulic System and even had an emblem on the hood that said “Ferguson System.” The word “system” often falls off before the word “Ferguson,” though, making it even more confusing!
Now comes the claim to fame. The TO-20 was well received here in the United States, but it was fantastically popular in England, the rest of Europe, and even Austraila and New Zeeland, where the tractor is nicknamed the Little Grey Fergie. It’s even the subject of a popular children’s show! In England, the tractor is known as the TE-20. It’s a very similar tractor and comes with a wide variety of engine options (diesel, gasoline – even lamp oil!).
While I’m partial to Ford tractors, the TE-20 (England-produced version of the TO-20, essentially the same tractor) has the claim to fame that takes the cake: it was used by Sir Edmund Hillary on his expedition to the South Pole! A fleet of 7 of these tractors was used to transport people and supplies on the 1955-1958 expedition. While some of the tractors got special tracks or extra tires, the other components of the tractors were stock. These tractors performed admirably, even in the bitter cold and on sheets of ice. They hold the record as the first vehicles driven to the South Pole.